Hurricane Ian Golf Course Damage Report
FLORIDA—October 20, 2022—Florida is home to numerous high-profile golf courses and tournaments, with Naples and Fort Myers among the most popular golf destinations. The Ritz Carlton in Naples hosts both the Shark Shootout and the LPGA’s annual end-of-season tournament, and the PGA Champion’s Tour stops in Naples every February. When Hurricane Ian battered Southwest Florida on September 28 and then cut a path across the state, more than 1,000 golf courses were affected, with those in and around Fort Myers experiencing severe damage, according to News-Press. The National Golf Foundation (NGF) has compiled a golf course damage report, but along with the rest of the state, recovery will take time.
The NGF report states that 1,119 golf facilities (8% of the country’s golf courses) were damaged by wind and storm surge from Hurricane Ian. News-Press reports that nearly one in six were hit by hurricane force winds, and many courses in the hardest-hit regions remain closed.
Sanibel Island, where nearly every structure was damaged in the storm, is home to The Dunes on Sanibel Island golf course. Here, the clubhouse flooded, the fleet of golf carts was battered and tangled with every cart having frozen brakes from salt water, and a hot tub ended up on the 18th green, according to News-Press.
Maintenance staff has begun cleanup efforts, but without power and running water in the weeks since the hurricane, restoration is slow. The causeway reopened yesterday, but prior to that, most access to the island for workers was by boat only. Power has made it to the island, according to News-Press, but crews will need to rebuild the electrical infrastructure section by section before individual residents and businesses regain power—a process that will likely take a few more weeks to complete.
In addition to damaging clubhouses and golf carts, the storm impacted the irrigation systems and maintenance equipment at many golf clubs. Another major concern is that the salt water that flooded greens in places like Sanibel Island could cause the turf to fail. As golf course damage reports continue to come in, many golf industry associations are mobilizing in support of recovery efforts to get these clubs back up and running.