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Published: Sunday, 7/16/2006

With a little help from friends

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Kelli Kuehne and her caddy get a ride to the No. 2 green from operations chairman Dick Flaskamp during yesterday's second round. Kelli Kuehne and her caddy get a ride to the No. 2 green from operations chairman Dick Flaskamp during yesterday's second round.
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Truth be told, even the man who directed the effort that enabled the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger to get back on track, at the exact time he had projected, didn't actually believe it could be done.

Highland Meadows Golf Club superintendent Mark Mixdorf did win a small over/under wager, made with his assistant, Dave Alexander, on just when yesterday the water overflowing the banks of Ten Mile Creek would flood the course's third tee box area.

Alexander said 2:30. Mixdorf took the over.

But Mixdorf would not have bet a penny on the chances that the remainder of the Farr Classic's second round - suspended by heavy rain Friday - would begin at 11 a.m. yesterday. That was the time he indicated to LPGA officials Friday night.

"Honestly, I did not believe that we were going to play at 11," Mixdorf said. "But [the media] needed to hear something, I guess, and that was the number we picked.

"The number in my head as I watched it rain [on Friday] was, if we could play golf by 1 or 2 o'clock, I was going to be very happy."

Mixdorf was thus ecstatic that his crew, bolstered by volunteer aid from some his of counterparts at other area clubs, was able to pull off the "Miracle at the Meadows."

"It's been a superhuman effort," said Mixdorf, who worked with his crew throughout the night and morning. "The conversations, as we were trying to decide what we were going to do to get golf in today, ranged anywhere from 'Forget it, it's not going to happen,' to 'Maybe we can tee off by 5 o'clock.'

"The LPGA said give us a time that we can give to the media to let people know. I said, 'I think we can be ready at 11 a.m.' "I went out, talked to my staff, got them rallied together and said, 'Let's be heroes tonight.' I think they did that."

Mixdorf's 22-member staff was assisted by more than 20 additional workers who came in from other courses along with some extra equipment.

Pitching in were superintendent Steve Brown from Sylvania Country Club, his assistant and three other staff members; superintendent Tim Glorioso of Toledo Country Club, his assistant and another staff member; and superintendent Mike Suchomma from Tecumseh (Mich.) Country Club. Also, Steve Anderson, the superintendent at Inverness Club, offered staff help and provided some necessary equipment.

"Our goal was to get the area inside the ropes playable," Mixdorf said. "So, we pumped it, unfortunately for spectators, into areas where they're walking."

Mixdorf could do little about the portions of the course that were flooded by the cresting Ten Mile Creek. LPGA players were forced to improvise in those flooded areas, and were taxied in carts through and around flood waters.

The No. 3 tee box - the most crucial spot for the fate of the tournament - was literally an island for the conclusion of the second round yesterday.

Also, the creek flooded the No. 1 fairway approaching the green, and submerged almost all the area between the par-3 No. 2 tee and the No. 2 green. Farther east on the course, the par-3 eighth hole was basically all flood water between tee and green.

Borrowed equipment was essential in preparing the course.

"I own one pump," Mixdorf said. "We had seven two-inch trash pumps delivered from a company [United Rentals] that's a sponsor for the tournament. They also brought two three-inch trash pumps.

"The area between 5 tee and 18 fairway was a humongous lake and now it's all gone. You can't see it today, and that's due to the efforts of the equipment that was brought in."

Mixdorf, in his sixth year at Highland Meadows, finally took an afternoon nap after play began, as "projected," at 11 a.m.

"I would say, professionally, this was the biggest challenge that I've ever faced," he said. "It's not just me, though. This is a great staff. Now that it's over, you look back on it and you're proud of it. It's kind of exciting actually.

"We were out here with smiles on our faces at 1 o'clock in the morning because we knew we were doing a good job and we were going to be successful."

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com

or 419-724-6461.



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