Duncan Park’s back nine closed due to many felled trees

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2008

NATCHEZ — Hurricane Gustav spared no mercy when it tore through Duncan Park Golf course on Labor Day.

The damage from the storm was so great that the entire course closed Sept. 1. The front nine re-opened for play this past weekend.

Golf Course Superintendent Greg Brooking said there were 14 large trees blown down on the course. Branches and other debris were also scattered across the course.

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Brooking said it is the size of the trees on the back nine holes that is causing the biggest problem.

“We don’t have the equipment to move trees of this size,” Brooking said. “For the branches that are down, we are able to get out there with chainsaws and cut them up and move them off the course.

But we are incapable of moving some of these trees.”

Brooking and his staff are set up to maintain the course, which includes mowing the grass, general maintenance and small scale debris removal. He said they don’t have the time or manpower to take on such a large scale project.

“We hardly have the time to do what we do on a normal basis,” Brooking said. “All we are able to do now is mow the grass. We are having to do it a small portion at a time.”

Because the equipment needed to move the trees is not readily available, Brooking said the closed portion of the course will remain closed indefinitely.

“Right now we’re hoping that FEMA or MEMA will come in and say, ‘you are a disaster area’ and get the equipment needed out here,” Brooking said. “It just looks like matchsticks.”

Brooking said that he doesn’t expect the course to remain closed for an extended period of time and feels like he will receive clean up assistance from the city when help is available.

“Would you rather have your streets and power lines cleared or the golf course?,” Brooking said. “It is more important for us to get our roads and power lines cleared. I know we will get help.”

The front nine received damage from downed trees, but Brooking said it wasn’t near the scale of the damage received on the back nine. He said that of the 14 trees that were blown down, only two were on the front nine.

“A contractor was passing through and had the equipment to move those two trees off the course,” Brooking said. “He brought in a crew on Friday and did the job in just a day. We were very impressed with the work he did.”

Though the front nine is clear of trees, Brooking said the course is only “playable” and not in its usual shape.

“It is just open for play. It is in terrible condition,” Brooking said. “Sand traps are blown out and it is full of debris.”

But don’t expect the condition of the course to remain poor.

“It isn’t destroyed. We just have a little adversity and we are going to get through it,” Brooking said.