Wild Oak Golf Course has weathered through plenty of storms in Dave Backlund Jr.’s years of managing the operations, but he's never witnessed the type of damage that resulted from the recent rain.
As Backlund Jr. made his way to scope out the condition of the golf course Thursday morning following the storm, he came upon a large landslide that had torn apart some of the grass near hole 10 of the back-nine. The landslide that gave way was located on the hill just east of the clubhouse.
“It was a unique situation, and I’ve never experienced anything like it at the course,” said Backlund Jr., who has served as the manager of Wild Oak for roughly seven years. “But it is what is, and we’ll have things back up and running shortly.
From causing the breakdown of the plumbing and sewer system to damaging the tee box area of hole 10, the landslide has caused a myriad of headaches.
To compensate for the temporary sewer and plumbing issues, portable bathrooms are aligned near the clubhouse. While there is plenty of work that needs to be done, Backlund Jr. and staff have wasted no time in attending to the areas that suffered significant damage.
“The sewer and the septic tank had to be repaired,” he said. “We actually have one line already dug up, and we’re reconnecting the tank now. We’re trying to get one tank operable for this weekend, because we have to use the upstairs.”
For the past several days, Backlund Jr. and a handful of helping hands have been patching up the dirt and grass where the landslide inflicted damage, along with fixing the sewer and plumbing issues. Landslides are known to take place on the sides of hills and mountains after severe flooding occurs.
“We’re filling in the cracks and leveling the hill up,” Backlund Jr. said Tuesday.
Immediately following the storm that brought roughly 7 to 10 inches of rainfall, Backlund Jr. said the entire back-nine of the course was flooded out, which forced the course’s Thursday closure. While new water pumping mechanisms helped dry out some of the holes by Sunday afternoon, Backlund Jr. said six of the golf course’s 18-holes remain flooded.
“It used to take us a couple weeks to get the water on the bottom nine holes pumped off, but now we’re setup to where we get it pumped off in four days,” he said. “We started pumping Sunday afternoon, and we have a good chunk of the water already gone.”
Situated along Highway 38 on the east side of Mitchell, the back-nine of the golf course is familiar with flooding in the aftermath of severe rainfall. Given the location of the front-nine holes are located on top of the hill, Backlund Jr. said that half of the course didn’t experience any flooding.
Although there’s no definitive timeline for when all the damaged areas will be completely repaired, Backlund Jr. said his goal is to have everything in good condition before another rainstorm or severe weather event takes place.
Considering Mitchell’s future forecast is calling for a chance of rain on Friday night, the race against Mother Nature is on at Wild Oak.
“We want to get the majority of the cracks from the landslide filled and repaired before the next rain, and I’m afraid if we don’t and we get another heavy rain the dirt will slide down again,” Backlund Jr. said.
According to Lance VandenBoogart, meteorologist with the National Weather Service of Sioux Falls, there is a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms that could bring up to an inch or two of rainfall on Friday night into Saturday morning.
“The scattered thunderstorms could form as far west of Mitchell, but it mainly looks to be east of Interstate 29,” VandenBoogart said regarding the Tuesday night forecast.
As Backlund Jr. and the Wild Oak staff continue making progress to bring the golf course back to its best condition, he’s thankful the course didn’t suffer the same damage it did roughly 20 years ago.
“In 1997, the standing water levels reached a foot higher than what the course experienced after the recent flooding,” Backlund Jr. said. “We have a great course, and we’re thankful for the support of the community, especially in times of crazy weather like this past week.”