chat Clubs Fight Back From Ravages of Cyclone Debbie
Queensland golf clubs ravaged by the fallout from Cyclone Debbie have fought back strongly despite significant damage to courses, buildings and machinery.
Clubs impacted were located from Bowen, Proserpine and Collinsville in the north to Carbrook, Logan City, Mt Warren Park and Windaroo Lakes in the south. Others on the coast,
including Mackay and Rockhampton, also felt the cyclone’s wrath which also extended inland to the mining region courses of Moranbah, Middlemount and Dysart.
Golf Queensland’s manager of club support and development, David Webber, was on the ground in north Queensland as quickly as possible to assist with recovery plans. “The worst hit district was virtually where the cyclone crossed the coast which impacted on Proserpine, Bowen and Collinsville,’’ he said.
“A lot of the damage was caused by destructive winds which uprooted trees and created a lot of debris at Bowen and Collinsville where the clubhouse was also damaged. “Proserpine was the worst hit with the course and pro shop flooded with damage to stock and carts. They were also without power for at least two weeks.’’
Although Bowen golfers were playing their course within days of the damage others were not so fortunate. Proserpine planned to re-open their front nine holes on April 29 with the clean-up continuing on the remainder of the course.
Webber said the Department of Correctional Services had sent clients from Townsville to assist volunteers with the recovery at Bowen and Collinsville.
“The Department of Sport and Recreation has also been very good. They have a disaster assistance plan in place but when something major occurs funds are obviously stretched.’’
Webber also said Golf Queensland had contracted a grant writing service to advise and assist clubs in applying for financial help. “That service is accessible to all the clubs,’’ he said.
Mackay and Sarina sustained flooding to bunkers and fairways with debris on some greens. Rockhampton lost four holes in the cyclone’s aftermath but golfers could still easily access nine holes for uninterrupted play.
Damage to courses in the south-east focused on the Logan region where flooding was the major problem.
Logan City club professional Carl Evans used a “tinnie” to inspect his flooded course while Carbrook, Mt Warren Park and Windaroo Lakes were also inundated.
Carbrook general manager Scott Wagstaff said the flooding came quickly after the Logan River broke its banks. “We managed to move 60 golf carts and our machinery to higher ground which was fortunate as water went through three of our sheds,’’ he said. Carbrook, named 2016 Club of the Year at the annual Golf Industry Awards, was closed for 22 days and re-opened on April 21.
Members and volunteers showed typical spirit and resilience in working overtime to get the club operational again. “On the first Saturday after the flood we had 110 people turn up to help and overall about 200 contributed,’’ said Wagstaff.
“We had to be very conscious of safety as silt, mud and debris were everywhere. It will take many months for us to clear up.
“We had 12 greens submerged with a giant tree washed on to the 11th green. All 25 bunkers will need to be fully renovated which is a costly exercise. We renovated 10 bunkers last year but that work will have to be done again." “The size of the restoration is considerable. It is a very big job but we will get through it. It can be daunting but our staff are in a good frame of mind and very positive.’’
Aside from the significant costs involved in repairs and restoration, Wagstaff said loss of income during the 22 day forced closure was considerable.
“Fortunately, we have had six years of financial surplus and we will be able to get through this setback. It is just another challenge along the road …”
By Bernie Pramberg