JUPITER, Florida – At 3:10 in the afternoon on Wednesday, Sept. 28, Hurricane Ian ripped through the barrier islands and Ft. Myers Beach, Florida, with 150+ mph winds and an unprecedented gulf surge.
Having watched The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore in the lead-up to Ian’s landfall, I was struck by his comment that this part of our state’s western coast likely wouldn’t look the same after the storm. Anyone who has seen the images of the coastal areas knows he was correct.
The golf industry in the game’s most heavily supplied state will also show some short and longer-term scar tissue, as will the people employed at courses and golf-related businesses. National Golf Foundation’s Jupiter HQ dodged this bullet on the east coast.
For those courses damaged or closed, the effect on the golf business will surely be exacerbated by the proximity of this event to Florida’s unofficial opening day of the golf season, Nov. 1.
Coastal flooding caused devastation to property near the shore, and the heavy winds carved a swath across the state, strengthened over the Atlantic and wreaked havoc in South Carolina as well. Our search of National Hurricane Center data revealed a map (below) showing the cumulative wind history.
In total, 1,119 golf facilities were touched by Ian – 8% of the country’s overall supply. Almost one in six of those were hit by hurricane strength winds and a number of those, particularly in and around the Fort Myers area, remain closed or partially so. As broader recovery efforts continue, operators and management companies suggest there will certainly be a negative impact on play in the area, which you can read more about here in our accompanying Spotlight story.
Troon, the world’s largest golf management company, had dozens of Florida facilities affected by the storm, including about 10 in the area in which the hurricane made landfall.
“We still have a couple that are not open but have a target date and all should be operational by month end,” Troon co-Chief Operating Officer Bruce Glasco noted. “Some have made makeshift par 3 courses (temporary tees) because debris still needs to be removed and there is no way to navigate the entire golf course. In other words, people are finding a way, which is encouraging and shows the importance that golf plays in their everyday lives.”
In the wake of the storm, several industry associations have risen to the occasion to help their golf brothers and sisters.
The Southwest chapter of the South Florida PGA reached out to every affected facility in the region and as many members as they could contact.
PGA of America President Jim Richerson sent a communication reminding members about the PGA Medical and Disaster Relief Fund. Apply for relief here or call 800 474-2776 to make a contribution.
The National Golf Course Owners Association and its members have kindly offered support, ready to assist the recovery of anyone operating a course damaged by the storm. Those seeking assistance should click here.
Supers who need assistance should contact the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s Disaster Relief Fund.
The NGF has donated to support relief efforts and we encourage you to do the same.