MISSOULA AND FRENCHTOWN – A course on the banks of a river creates a picturesque round of golf, but it also can cause quite a mess during flood season.
Rising water in Missoula County over the past month has limited or even canceled play altogether at a few courses. But with some hard work, tee time is finally right around the corner.
Linda Vista Golf Course borders the Bitterroot River. But lately, you couldn’t tell where the river ended and the course began. Head pro Charles Miller states they have to close one or two holes every few years due to flooding. But on May 11, the water seeped to every part of the course, and Linda Vista completely shut down for the first time since 1997. No one has teed off since.
Even after the water started receding, it sat stuck in low areas on the course, causing turf damage to rough and fairways. Linda Vista’s greens and tees sit on higher ground just for this reason, so they avoided damage, although groundskeepers needed to water them by hand because they could not use the irrigation system. They began the multiple day process to pump water off the course on Monday.
Meanwhile, down the Clark Fork River in Frenchtown, King Ranch Golf Course also sat under water. They planned to open a new nine holes this summer, building the course back up to 18. The old back nine washed out due to flooding years ago. Work was progressing great in early May, until rising water once again forced everyone off much of the course. Four holes have remained open, so King Ranch could at least bring some golfers to the course.
“It’s been a difficult spring, just with the loss of revenue during the month of May,” said head pro Tim Bakker. “We’ve always kept the higher holes open. We’ve had different specials going on during that time getting some golf happening each week.”
Receding water with some help from pumping has allowed the grounds crew back on much of the course. Bakker hopes the back nine, including a few of the new holes, will all be playable within a week. The full 18 will open later this summer.
At Linda Vista, they’ve found a creative way to bring in revenue while no one can play. They offer a Flooded Out coupon, good for two rounds of nine holes for the price of one. And while Miller admits it will take a while for the course to grow back to its green beauty, he believes Linda Vista will open up for play by next weekend.
Double Arrow Resort in Seeley Lake felt the effects of flooding, as well. Morrell Creek soaked the lower part of the course, and even the higher ground was impacted by an underground spring that washed out a fairway bunker. Another hole will need repairs to a cart path. All 18 holes at Double Arrow are open now, but two have been shortened to avoid the soggiest fairways.