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Golf courses coming back from severe storm damage

Rick Bedells was at Deerfield golf course April 4 around noon when tornadoes hit the Jackson area.

The general manager of Jackson-based Colonial Country Club, which owns Deerfield, Bedells was north of the worst weather. But when he headed toward Colonial’s Northeast Jackson headquarters — guided down the road by good Samaritans who directed traffic in lieu of darkened traffic lights — he knew his club probably had some damage. Northeast Jackson’s homes and businesses, specifically the corridors of Old Canton Road and County Line Road, bore the brunt of the storm the National Weather Service eventually said produced a family of F1 and F2 twisters.

What Bedells found when he got there was a mixed bag. The good: there was no major damage to any of the buildings. The roofs of the pump house and a storage shed were missing a few shingles. The bad: Trees, some with trunks that measured 15 feet, were everywhere, some on the ground, others in some sort of state that would eventually lead them to being on the ground.

“We lost 275 trees,” Bedells said. “This was substantially worse than Katrina.”

But thanks to the club’s tree service, which Bedells said took no other jobs and devoted all its resources to cleaning up Colonial, the debris was cut and removed in time for the club to reopen its clubhouse April 8 and its Jackson course for 9 holes of golf on April 15, opening up completely April 18. The damage to the golf course came at a cost of $250,000.

“We went without electricity for four days,” Bedells said. “We had a wedding reception scheduled for the night after (the tornadoes) in Jackson, but we were able to move it to Deerfield without much of a problem. The two major revenue losses we had were two banquet events in Jackson that had to be cancelled. But overall we’re ok. That’s why we have insurance.”

Of the almost 100,000 people who lost power because of the storm, some in the Northeast Jackson area went without electricity for substantially longer than four days. And those who did and who were members of the private Colonial, says Bedells, enjoyed soaking up the lights in the clubhouse.

“The demand for the facility went up greatly,” Bedells said. Though the lights came back on relatively quickly, phone service took longer, handing the club another revenue hit.

“It cost a lot in terms of membership sales,” Bedells said. “Most of our membership is derived from people calling us.”

The Country Club of Jackson is a couple of miles north on Old Canton Road from Colonial in Northeast Jackson, and encountered similar problems: trees down, but no major damage to buildings and no injuries to staff or members.

“We were very lucky,” the private club’s general manager, Charles Burckel, said. “We lost 100 trees, but other than that we’re great.”

The family of twisters did the bulk of their damage in Ridgeland and the Northeast Jackson area, moving southeast into Rankin County. One of that county’s more popular golf destinations is Patrick Farms Golf Club in Pearl, a semi-private facility.

“No damage whatsoever,” said club manager Jay Coalter. “We were fortunate. We didn’t have one single tree down.”

Coalter said his neighborhood in the Castlewoods area of Brandon had trees knocked down by the winds. Castlewoods Country Club sits adjacent to the residential area. Officials from Castlewoods had not returned a phone call seeking comment as of press time.

Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@ msbusiness.com .

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