Flood damage gives way to rebuilt Nursery greens

The Nursery Golf and Country Club layout has a new look, thanks — or no thanks — to the severe flooding of 2007.

Karl Dillman prepares to hit the ball at the third hole which is a par 3.

Karl Dillman prepares to hit the ball at the third hole which is a par 3.

LACOMBE — The Nursery Golf and Country Club layout has a new look, thanks — or no thanks — to the severe flooding of 2007.

Due to extensive water damage caused by the flood on the back nine of the course, three holes — Nos. 14, 15 and 17 — were reconstructed.

“It was in the spring of 2007. It was my first year here, as well as our superintendent (Connor Winslow), and we walked into a golf course that was coming off its best year to date,” Nursery operations manager Karl Dillman said Monday.

“The flooding was cause by a combination of there being a lot of snow that winter, and then a lot of runoff.

“Plus, it was just horrible for rain through May.

“The straw that broke the camel’s back, if you will, was during the first weekend of June when we got eight inches of rain.

“The next weekend was similar, so we decided to close the back nine for the season.”

Workers were busy during the summer and fall months of that year, with the biggest job being the reconstruction of most of the fairway on the par-4 15th hole.

“The fairway was rebuilt from the creek (that cuts across the landing area) all the way back to the teebox,” said Dillman.

“We brought the fairway up almost five feet in certain places with a lot of new dirt.”

The 17th hole, meanwhile, was built up along the creek bed and the par-5 14th also underwent renovations that to this day include ground under repair.

“We’re slowly working on it (14th fairway),” said Dillman.

“The soil we placed there wasn’t the best quality. We’re continually aerating and seeding it and adding more dirt.”

Dillman, who was previously the manager at Goose Hummock near Gibbons, calls the new No. 15 his ‘absolute favourite’ Nursery hole.

“Before it was rebuilt, it was a mediocre hole, at best,” he said.

“It was remade into what I think will be one of the best holes on the course once it’s actually fully grown in and finished.

“It’s just a great golf hole.”

The 15th is pretty much a straightaway hole, playing 420 yards from the tips and featuring additional lengths of 404 yards from the blue tees and 382 from the whites.

“We’ve added a couple of new tee boxes there, including a forward one for the ladies,” said Dillman.

“And we’re adding one more longer teebox that will be done by the end of the year.

“It’s just going to be a great hole. It went from being the 13th or 14th in terms of handicap to the fourth-hardest hole.

“It’s still easy enough that the average golfer can go out and play it fairly well, but it’s also a good challenge for the lower handicap golfer.”

In the past, the 15th was an awkward hole, with golfers being forced to lay up about 180 yards off the tee. Now, the driver is a safe club off the tee with the creek roughly 270 yards out. From there, you play into a postage-stamp green.

“The flood was a horrible thing, but we got some really good changes out of it,” said Dillman, who added that the fairway reconstruction and the addition of a handful of dams and dikes on the course has prevented further extensive flooding.

While the Nursery features one of the longest holes anywhere with No. 11 playing as a par-6 at 782 yards from the back tees but also as a par-5 from 564 yards, the par-3 third is arguably the signature hole.

“In my opinion, it’s the best par-3 we have out there,” said Dillman, pointing to the elevated tees and the overall picturesque setting with water behind the green.

“It’s just at that nice 160-yard distance, hitting downhill a bit. If you go long you’re in the water, but there are a lot of bail-out spots.”

Business at the Nursery has been relatively brisk this spring, said the operations manager.

“Actually it’s been pretty good considering the weather hasn’t been the best the last two to three weeks. Overall, it’s been a good spring. We opened about a week earlier than normal this year and we had a really good opening.”

Contact Greg Meachem at gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com