Ship Creek flooding damages base golf courses

Flooding has destroyed a tee box at Eagleglen, and a bridge at the Creek Course.

Anchorage Daily NewsSeptember 26, 2012 

Where the 15th tee box at Eagleglen Golf Course once stood, Ship Creek now flows.

The course that lost an iconic tree to a wind storm earlier this month has now lost nearly all of the par-5 15th hole tee area, an area nearly the size of a football field.

"Yesterday, we were just standing here watching chunks and chunks fall off," Eagleglen manager Mark Dolejsi said Tuesday. "It's just remarkable, the power of Mother Nature."

The 15th at Eagleglen got the worst of the damage to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's three golf courses, but Ship Creek also took out a bridge on the third hole of the Moose Run Creek Course, forcing Eagleglen and the Creek Course to close about a month early.

For those still looking to squeeze in some golf before winter, the Hill Course at Moose Run is open through Sunday. The Anchorage Golf Course and Tanglewood Golf Course in Anchorage are also open, as are Settlers Bay, Palmer Golf Course and Fishhook Golf Course in the Valley.

The six courses not situated along Ship Creek all suffered their share of felled trees and standing water, but were otherwise spared by recent storms and flooding.

At Eagleglen, Ship Creek used to wrap around the 14th green and meander down the left side of the 15th fairway.

While the creek still runs down the left side of the 15th fairway, all that's left in front of the 14th green is a stagnant pool of water. Busting through a barrier of trees and turf to reroute itself, Ship Creek destroyed all but a small portion of the forward tee box on 15.

The new channel seems to be widening each day, Dolejsi said, and he worries that the water could still eat its way into the 14th green.

"Right now it's still there, but I don't know if it will be there tomorrow," he said.

Several other areas of Eagleglen were flooded over the weekend, but appear to have escaped serious damage. Until water-levels subside and the creek quits tearing its new path, assessing the total damage and formulating a plan for repairs won't be possible, Dolejsi said.

"Just to re-armor the banks, I can't even hazard a guess (as to cost)," Dolejsi said.

Moose Run is also waiting to determine what to do about repairing or rebuilding its bridge, said manager Amy Sexton.

The bridge detached from land on the end near the third green, where portions of the red tee box have been washed downstream. Along with connecting the third tee to the third green, the bridge is also used by golfers making their way from the 16th green to the 17th tee.

The bridge between the ninth and 10th holes at the Creek Course is still intact, but small portions of the turf near the ninth green have disappeared.

Eagleglen's 15th could be shortened to a par-3 or par-4 in the short term, in order to allow play when the course opens next summer. To remain a legitimate par-5, it's likely a new tee box will have to be built on the north side of Ship Creek, an area now occupied by trees.

Dolejsi has managed Eagleglen since 1995 and said it has been tough to watch the course get torn apart this fall. There's no replacing the giant cottonwood that guarded the green on the par-5 18th hole and was blown down earlier this month, and Dolejsi said he is pretty certain there won't be any attempt to reroute Ship Creek and restore the 15th to its original form. So Eagleglen will be a changed course when all is said and done.

"That's where the river wants to go, and they're not gonna change that," he said.

Reach Jeremy Peters at jpeters@adn.com or 257-4335.

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