Golf courses, Speedway take beating from snow

Hidden Valley owner Dan Nord’s dog, Willie, explores the damage done to the golf course.

As was apparent to anyone who looked outside anytime in the last week, it was a tough time for trees. While the snow came down, so, too, did trees across the city.

Falling on sidewalks, houses and garages the trees were also downed on golf courses and the local race track. 

“It’s a war zone, it’s horrible. We’ve lost trees, it’s horrible. Middlefield (Golf Course) got some damage but we really got hit because we have some really super old oak trees out here and they just didn’t hold up to the weight of that wet snow,” said Hidden Valley Golf Course owner Dan Nord. For the course that is lined with oak and fir trees, Nord estimates that at least 50 percent of all fir trees on the course were damaged by the snow.

Nord was at the course last Monday as the first day of snow hit Cottage Grove bringing at least 18 inches of snow to the grounds.

“I come outside and it’s still snowing like a banshee. And you could just hear, crack, crack, ka-boom. When this fell,” Nord said pointing to an oak tree that is over 150-years old, “it was just earth-shattering. It just shook the buildings.”

For the most part, the damage stayed off the fairways which will allow play to resume sooner than later. But for each tree that was damaged, Nord estimates a 10 to 20-yard radius around it of fallen branches that now need to be cleaned up. The process could take up to a month, though, play will be able to resume before everything is cleared.

“First thing we’ll do is concentrate on the areas that are in play so we can open back up and get business going and money flowing in here to help clean this up. So the tee boxes and the greens have to absolutely be finished right away. That’s the priority,” said Nord on the order of operations for the cleanup effort. “Then we’ll start on the rough and start working methodically through the course that are in play.” Additionally, Nord also has to wait for the snow to melt before the course is ready. While over a foot of snow still sat on the course last week, he received a call from a loyal golfer who was checking to see if they could come and play that day.

At the Cottage Grove Speedway, downed trees were blocking the road to even allow general manager Heather Boyce a look at the track and the surrounding area. Once she got out there, there was plenty of damage including to the shop.

“We’ve got to wait for some of (the snow) to melt so we can get the roof off and see what kind of damage we have in there. And then start to rebuild that. We have a lot of down trees all over that stretch, we had some fences come down,” said Boyce in a phone interview on Friday. “Same kind of damage I think everyone around town is having to deal with, unfortunately, we just have a pretty short timeline to getting it fixed.”

The short timeline is due to the fact that the Speedway is set to have their first event of the season on Saturday March 16 with the first race the following week.

“So that’s still only a few weeks out and I think we’re going to have our work cut out for us to get all the damage and cleanup taken care of before those are supposed to happen,” said Boyce. “It really depends on the weather between now and then. I mean, when we schedule stuff in March, we kind of always know there’s a chance it won’t happen because of the weather around here. But this is definitely putting a damper on it.”

In addition to the downed trees, the track itself is still full of snow and will need time to dry out before it is race ready. A looming fear now is if there is any flooding in the area and how that will impact the track because of its close proximity to the river. But with that being down the road, Boyce and her team are just trying to clean up and prepare for the season.

“It’s just stuff, nobody was hurt. It could have been worse so we’re just going to regroup and do the best we can,” said Boyce as the power went out at the track during our phone call. “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, I guess. Hopefully it just means we’ll be set for a really good season because we got all the bad stuff out of the way in the offseason.”

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