(St. George, UT) - A natural disaster on a small scale caused problems in southern Utah for golf players.
In 2010, floods forced two City of St. George golf courses to shut down. Two years later, only one more hole needs to be fixed before the last one of them is open.
The damaging flood was the city's second hundred-year flood within five years. It turned a small stream of the Santa Clara river into a fast and deep torrent.
"And how fast it took the earth away. It was unbelievable," Jerome Jones, maintenance manager of the Sunbrook Golf Course. "There used to be a bridge where that crossover is now. And, that probably a hundred feet of bank is gone."
But that was a while ago. Now, the hole with the most damages is almost ready. They planted new trees, put in new sod and shored up the river bank.
"It's going to be a great green, so we're happy with it," Jones said.
Downstream, the Southgate Golf Course is doing well too. This course was hit the hardest during the floods, with water, debris and damage everywhere.
"We had a lot of dirt that came downstream and literally, in areas, we had silt that was 3 to 4 feet thick," said Scott Draper, head golf pro at Southgate.
It had been a rough few years for some of these golf courses. First, they had the floods of 2005. Then the economy crashed in 2008. Then came the floods of 2010. Those three events, really hit hard.
"It was a pretty good blow to golf in general," said Colby Cowan, St. George director of golf operations
Cowan said golf is important to the St. George economy, so when golfing slowed down, so did revenue. However, so far this year, he said there has been an 8 percent increase in the number of golfers returning.
"I think we're on an upward tick, definitely, with golf," Cowan said.
That's good news for the courses affected. After all they've been through, they hope another hundred-year flood won't happen.