Golfers at BREC’s Beaver Creek Golf Course in Zachary are having to deal with more holes than the 18 they are playing — at least 10 sinkholes have appeared on the course over the last several months, officials said.
Some of the holes are small, just a foot or so wide and less than a foot deep, said Haze Brignac, the course manager at Beaver Creek. Others are larger, tens of feet wide and as much as 5 or 6 feet deep, Brignac said.
No one had been injured and no golfers had complained about the sinkholes, Brignac said.
The holes are in locations on the course that are farthest from the main drainage ponds, Brignac said. The greatest concentration is on holes 5 and 7, he said.
“The drainage is breaking down,” Brignac said, referring to pipes that run under the course to carry rainwater away from the playing areas. “The water gets in, erodes under the pipe and it collapses.”
In several of the sinkholes, a vertical drainage pipe can be seen in the middle of the hole. The sinkholes tend to form around “T-joints” in the pipes, where a vertical pipe intersects a horizontal one, Brignac said.
BREC Golf Director Jeff Marks, who took over the post earlier this month, said heavy rains in the first part of the year exacerbated the problem.
“Because we have had so much rain, the water pools up there,” he said.
Marks said he has seen similar problems at other courses.
“I have seen it at new courses, I have seen it at old courses,” Marks said. “With new courses, after time, the land kind of settles in.”
Beaver Creek is a relatively new course, having opened in 2002. Construction on the course began in late 2001.
When it opened in 2002, course architect Craig Schreiner said the design of the course would allow it to be played quickly after a heavy rain.
When contacted by phone, Schreiner said he had not been to the site recently and could not comment on the cause of the holes.
Tuesday, some of the larger holes were marked with stakes and yellow rope. Others had spray painted lines around them, denoting “ground under repair,” meaning golfers whose balls went into the sinkholes could drop without a penalty stroke.
Marks said crews would be placing stakes and ropes around all the holes this week.
“My concern is safety,” he said.
Ted Jack, an assistant superintendent at BREC, said repairing the holes could be completed by late summer.
“It may take us a while over the next two to three months,” he said.
The repairs will require heavy equipment which, if it rains, BREC will move off the course until the land is dries out, Jack said.
“We don’t want to make a bigger problem,” he said.
Jack estimated the cost of repairing what he called “about a dozen holes” at $3,000 per hole. There is no option to attempt to recover the cost from the contractor, SAJO Construction of Richmond Tex., Jack said.
“Unfortunately, we are outside the warranty period,” he said. “I think it will take around $35,000 to $40,000 to do the job.”
Jack expects to be able to repair the underground pipe in the sinkholes, rather than replace it.
BREC will use its own maintenance crews to complete the work.
“If we have to replace it, obviously the cost will go way up,” he said.
About 18,000 rounds of golf were played at Beaver Creek last year, Brignac said. Play on the course is up through the first part of this year, he said.