Anchorage — Eagleglen Golf Course and the Moose Run Creek Course will both play shorter than usual this summer.
Each course will shorten one hole because of damage last fall by an overflowing Ship Creek, but the changes won't prevent golfers from enjoying 18 holes on either course.
The flooded, wandering creek destroyed the par-5 15th tee area at Eagleglen and a bridge on the No. 3 hole at the Creek Course.
Each hole will lose yardage with the use of temporary tee boxes this summer, changing Eagleglen's 15th into a par 4 and shortening the Creek Course's par-3 third from more than 100 yards to around 50 yards.
The Creek Course's wrecked bridge also means golfers will play holes in a new order.
"My motto these days is that we are making the best of a bad situation," Moose Run manager Amy Sexton said.
Eagleglen's sequence of play remains intact, but shooting par there now takes 71 strokes instead of 72. The shortening of the 15th into a par-4 will straighten a slight dogleg left, but golfers will still be forced to hit a shot over Ship Creek.
In the future, course managers may stretch the 15th back into a par 5 by creating tee boxes to the right of the old teeing ground, an area now occupied by trees.
"There's plenty of room over there to go back and make that a heck of a par 5," Eagleglen manager Mark Dolejsi said.
The method for traveling from the 14th green to the 15th tee at Eagleglen will also change. What used to be a walk of less than 100 yards will become a trek of around 400 yards. Ship Creek now flows where the old pathway existed, so golfers finishing 14 will backtrack down the hole's left tree line to a maintenance bridge that connects to the 15th hole.
Last fall the flood looked like it might claim the 14th green too, as raging water devoured turf daily. The green survived, but much of the turf behind it did not, so golfers driving carts will park in the 14th fairway and use a bridge to walk the rest of the way to the green.
"We still have a little bank stabilization to shore up over there, on the left side of the green, but we are planning on playing the green," Dolejsi said.
Eventually, Dolejsi said he would like to put in new asphalt to create a cart turnaround near the 14th green. That would allow golfers to drive their carts over the bridge and park near the green.
No tree on Eagleglen's 18
Flooding wasn't the only thing that created havoc last fall. Violent wind storms demolished hundreds of trees at the city's golf courses, including the iconic cottonwood that guarded the 18th green at Eagleglen.
The tree crashed onto the 18th fairway, and removing the debris is an ongoing task that will continue into the summer, Dolejsi said.
Eventually, he would like to replace the cottonwood with another tree or combination of small trees, but he said there are no plans to do so this summer.
A new Creek route
The broken bridge at the Creek Course connected the third tee to the third green and also served golfers making their way from the 16th green to the 17th tee. The raging Ship Creek washed out the end of the bridge closest to the green, forcing its removal over the winter.
The bridge won't be rebuilt this summer, Sexton said, nor are there plans to rebuild it.
The only remaining bridge across Ship Creek is at No. 9. In order to make things work with just one place to cross the creek, holes will be played in a new order.
When can you play?
Right now, the Valley is the place to be for golf.
Palmer Golf Course opened 10 holes earlier this week and hopes to have all 18 ready to go Saturday, with temporary greens on four holes. For tee times, call 907-745-4653.
Fishhook Golf Course on Palmer-Fishhook Road opened six holes Thursday and its driving range is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Book a tee time by calling 907-745-7274.
Settlers Bay on Knik Goose Bay Road will open Sunday with nine holes and no temporary greens. Call 907-346-5466 to make a tee time.
In Anchorage, the earliest opening will likely be at Anchorage Golf Course, which is hoping for a May 11 opening. It could be late May before Eagleglen and Moose Run are playable.
Dolejsi hopes to open the Eagleglen driving range by May 17, with the course to open a week later.
Lingering snow may delay the Moose Run Creek Course opening until June, Sexton said. It opened on temporary greens May 23 last year and May 3 the previous year.
The Moose Run Hill Course usually opens a week or two earlier than the Creek Course.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.