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Golf: Slayton Country Club returning to normal

SUBMITTED PHOTO The Slayton Country Club was under water after the worst flooding in course history in mid June. Within two and a half weeks it was ready for golfers to head back out on the links.

SLAYTON — It has been a fairly normal August so far at the Slayton Country Club, but just a short time ago, “normal” seemed a long way off.

The rain that pounded southwest Minnesota in the middle of June wreaked havoc on the 9-hole, Par 35 golf course just north of the city limits right along Highway 59. The storms that hit between June 13-17 caused “the worst flooding in the history of the course” according to grounds superintendent John DeLong.

“Basically the whole course was under water,” DeLong said.

Beaver Creek, which runs down the middle of the golf course, rose to being 10 or 11 feet deep by DeLong’s estimate. The water was so high that it was touching a bridge that normally runs about eight feet above the water level. The course’s pump house was halfway underwater, but it was the turf that took the hardest hit.

DeLong said in the first couple of weeks following the flood, he was working 80-to-90-hour weeks while some volunteers spent more than 40 hours per week helping out. Once the waters finally subsided, most of his time was spent on a skidloader pushing sand, silt and mud off of the fairways. Once that was cleared off, the course needed to be tilled and re-seeded.

In all, he said it took 7-10 days until most of the water was off the course. Holes 1 and 4 were perhaps the hardest hit. Once the water was gone, DeLong said there was 6-8 inches of silt covering the first fairway.

Amazingly, after two and a half weeks of tireless work, the course reopened with a temporary green on Hole 1 on July 2.

“I would have never dreamt it would be open that soon,” DeLong said. “Luckily the weather cooperated, we got a lot of help from volunteers and everything just came together. When I first said we’d be open in two weeks, people looked at me and told me I was crazy.”

DeLong added that the volunteers who helped get the course back in shape were a “godsend.” First-year clubhouse manager Sherry Robinson echoed that statement.

“Our members are very loyal,” she said. “A lot of them came out and helped right away. Without them who knows where we’d be at? Within a week you could already see a huge difference.”

Of course, some much-needed cooperation from the weather didn’t hurt. After days of storms and torrential downpours, the next few days were filled with warm weather and sunny skies that helped expedite the clean-up effort.

“Mother Nature helped us out right after she let us have it,” Robinson said.

Now, nearly two months after the flood, things are almost back to normal at Slayton Country Club. While Robinson said it is still recommended that golf carts stay off of the fairways, they are still playable. The view from the clubhouse once looked like a lake and now looks as good as ever.

As such, play has resumed in full force. With tournaments galore, Robinson said the club has stayed busy in recent weeks. Tuesday will mark the Women’s Tournament at SCC, one that is expected to be an even bigger hit than usual.

“We have some individuals who are really excited about putting it on,” Robinson said. “They’re putting a lot of emphasis on supporting the clubhouse.”

That tournament begins at 2 p.m. Tuesday with registration opening up one hour earlier. It is a four-person, best ball tournament and costs $35 per person with dinner, prizes and a raffle after all teams have finished. Participants are encouraged to wear a pirate hat as a prize will be awarded for the best one.

Another big tournament in the not-so-distant future is the club’s first Fall Social on Sept. 13. Open to members and non-members alike, Robinson said it will be a whole family event with food and entertainment. The goal, she said, is to thank everyone for their support of the club.

Most importantly, however, she emphasized that with the help of many supportive individuals, the club and course are running strong.

“Despite the flood, we’re running at full force,” she said. “Where it was brown not that long ago is now looking green and people can still go on it and golf. They really put in a lot of great work on it. I’m looking out the window (of the clubhouse) right now and it really is a beautiful view.”

Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

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