The winter of 2014 dragged on and on. The May 9th macroburst came and left. The damage caused by both has left the Evansville Parks Department in a bit of a bind. However, that bind has created a special deal for Tri-State golfers.
"Last year was a great year. [Helfrich Golf Course] had improved a lot," said Denise Johnson, the executive director of the Evansville Department of Parks and Recreation. "This year? It's a different story."
It's a much different story. The two major characters are the bitterly cold winter and the destructive May 9th macroburst. The macroburst -- packing winds topping 120 miles per hour -- snapped or toppled some 60 trees at Fendrich Golf Course. Helfrich Golf Course lost more than a dozen trees and McDonald Golf Course lost some trees as well. However, that's just part of the problem, officials said.
The prolonged and downright difficult winter also killed off some of the Bermuda grass at the city's golf courses. Up to three acres of grass will need to be re-sprigged at both McDonald Golf Course and Fendrich Golf Course.
However, the damage is much worse at Helfrich Golf Course on the city's west side. The course superintendent estimated that up to 25% of the course's fairways will need to be re-sprigged.
"We had a lot of winter damage just because of the weather. It was nothing we did or what the golf superintendents did or did not do," Johnson said. "We've decided to reduce the amount of money that we had allotted for our roofing replacement at Fendrich Golf Course. Our estimates and bids came in much lower that what we thought and we're going to divide up approximately $25,000 amongst the three courses."
Fendrich and McDonald will receive $5,000 apiece. Helfrich, which lost a quarter of it's fairways -- will receive $15,000 to re-sprig the fairways, Johnson said.
"I think what's so hard to swallow is there was nothing we did to cause this," Johnson said.
While that may be the case, according to Johnson, the commissioners of the Parks Board decided there was something they could do about it.
"What we've decided to do until [Helfrich] is turned back over to the condition that it needs to be, we're going to reduce the rate of play back to the winter rate," Johnson said. "I think we recognized that if we want to keep play out there, we've got to do something to promote that and keep players coming out."
Johnson says the winter rates will only apply to Helfrich Golf Course. The lower rates will continue through the end of July or until the course is in an acceptable condition, Johnson said.