With the first group teeing off at 7:30, for the tournament’s first round Robinson was still uncertain until he got to the course several hours beforehand. Play went on, but Robinson had some anxious moments.
“Thursday afternoon, I was a little bit reluctant, but Thursday was a good day,” he said. “The sun came out and the wind blew a little bit, but the course could have been a little bit dryer. But I wasn’t sure about it until this morning because it could have rained last night.”
Despite storms traveling through Calhoun County consistently for nearly two weeks, Robinson and his staff were faced with a strict deadline while dealing with a golf course that had several holes underwater Tuesday after storms pushed Choccolocco Creek beyond its banks. It was something Robinson said he had previously seen happen twice in his three years at Cider Ridge.
“We had six and a half inches of rain in a weekend, and that’s going to bring it out of its banks,” Robinson said. “When the water went down Monday afternoon, it left a lot of water, debris, trash and mud behind, but that’s normal when it comes out of its banks.”
With the third through sixth holes flooded, Director of Golf Ed Joseph said there wasn’t much that could be done until the water lowered enough for the staff to use the cart paths. Robinson said the third hole was under nearly four feet of water, while the fifth hole had three feet of water and the sixth hole had nearly five feet of standing water.
“On Tuesday when we had another storm blow through, I was thinking if we got any more rain after that, then this golf course wouldn’t be playable. We got a quarter of an inch Wednesday morning, but we were able to clean it up,”
Robinson said. “My guys worked really hard this week. We were working from daylight to sundown every day pretty much.”
Although the standing water caused a major problem, Robinson said draining the water wasn’t difficult. Rather, the biggest issues came with the bunkers.
“We’ve got 30 bunkers and every single one of them washed out,” he said. “We got 12 guys in the bunkers, throwing the sand back up on the face because it would just wash back down. We just had to completely redo bunkers.
“It took us two days to redo all the bunkers.”
Yet, Sunny King Classic veterans Wayne Tillman and Billy Grizzard, who are competing in the tournament for the 18th year, were nothing short of impressed by the conditions of the Cider Ridge.
“I live here and I saw how much water we had,” Grizzard said. “A lot of the front holes were under water two or three days ago and I am totally amazed the first few holes weren’t car-path only. And the conditions were excellent considering the rain we’ve had.
“As far as casual water or standing water, we didn’t have a problem at all.
There were a few spots on the holes that we could drive on that we could see the marshy spots, but that was it. I’m still amazed at the conditions the course was in.”
Outside of the first and second holes being wet and cart-path only, the course was as it would ordinarily be, with Robinson saying there were only a few “minor things” that caused problems Friday. He added there is a possibility of allowing carts on the first and second holes of the course as early as today.
“We want to say hats off to the greens-keeper here and the people that work on these fairways,” Tillman said. “They’ve done an excellent job here at Cider Ridge.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star.