Rebuild The Resurrection of Metairie CC

By Mercer BaggsApril 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
Golf Chronicles: After KatrinaNEW ORLEANS -- Greg Cores eyes start to water. He gives pause to his speech. He tries to compose himself, and after almost a minute he manages to do so.
 
Upon doing so, he says, Dad called and said, You cant quit.
 
Dad was the same man who told him to hightail it out of town, the day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the New Orleans area.
 
The younger Core had wanted to stay, believing that Katrina was just another storm, just a nuisance that would require a little extra clean-up. Then it became evident, to his father, to him, to everyone else, that this was not a storm it was The Storm.
 
So Core, head professional at Metairie Country Club for the past 10 years, had his crew stow away what could be stowed away and lock up that which could be locked up.
 
He then packed up a few items, grabbed his wife of less than one year and their cat, and did just like Dad told him.
 
They went to Jackson, Miss., wife Marthas hometown, though they didnt exactly hightail it. Thousands had exodus in mind, and what was normally a two-hour trip took nearly nine hours.
 
Ten days after exodus, and after bouncing around from place to place, they came back to experience Revelation.
 
Greg, Martha and one of Gregs two sons, Vance, a college student at Louisiana Tech, drove back to Metairie as far as dry land would take them. They then started walking as far as they could. Along their journey back home they came across a couple of Tulane students who had a canoe in the back of their truck.
 
They said, Were never coming back. If you want our canoe, take it, Greg recalled.
 
And so they did.
 
Martha and Vance, both of whom had breathing masks to protect them from bacteria, piled in. Greg, who was wearing chest-high wading boots and was without a mask, steered the canoe by foot, keeping it from tipping over into water blacker than the Devils heart.
 
It was horrifying, said Greg, who could only make it so far because of the stench of raw sewage and human excrement.
 
Greg retreated, while Vance took an oar and navigated him and his step-mother to what was left of their house.
 
We came back and everything was gray and drab ' no cars, just the sound of helicopters, Martha said.
 
Their two-story house, they discovered, was under nearly 5 feet of water. Their clothes, their car, most all of their possessions gone. They gathered what was salvageable and took some photographs.
 
When they met back up with Greg, the pro took a breathing mask and the canoe and then went to see what was left, if anything, of his course. He rowed over what used to be a fence, over the 16th tee, over the practice putting green, over 8 feet of water in some spots.
 
It was bad, he said. I cried a lot I didnt think we would ever be able to come back.
 
Metairie Country Club
Even when the water rescinded there was still plenty of work to be done.
The area had been hit very hard. The 17th Street Canal runs along the fourth hole and a breech had occurred just a few miles away. Not only was the course in ruins; every house in the upscale suburb was ravaged.
 
Greg, a Louisiana boy by birth and former collegiate player, had always wanted a life in golf. His dad, on the other hand, wanted him to become a lawyer. The son opted for his own dream.
 
He probably didnt talk to me for two years after making that decision, Greg said with a wry smile.
 
Thats why it meant so much to him to hear his fathers words of encouragement to persevere.
 
He never thought about quitting, Martha said. He feels like this course is a child.
 
Before Katrina, Greg had a staff of 175 employees. To get back to where they were, they would have to go forward with just three: Greg; green superintendent Andy Alexander; and Gregs friend, Mike Drury of Delta States Turf, Inc., who loaned the boys some equipment since all of theirs was lost.
 
They first had to get soil samples to make sure the ground wasnt toxic. When LSU sent word that everything was OK, they began to drain as much water as possible.
 
Then came the real task ' trying to keep the greens alive and trying to stay true to the Seth Raynor design.
 
Railroad ties, refrigerators ' you cant imagine what was on those greens, said Greg, who stayed with Martha in Vances apartment until they could move back into the upstairs of their house. We manually threw it off the green because it was killing them.
 
Metairie Country Club
Green superintendent Andy Alexander (l) had to use thousands of gallons of water to save Metairie's greens.
We had to get the gook off, so we hand-raked the greens daily for about a week.
 
After about three weeks, we saw a lot of progress, especially on the greens, because we were watering them (with fresh water) like crazy.
 
They began each day at 5:00 in the morning and didnt leave until after 8:00 each night. Said Alexander, There was no time to think about anything. It was full speed ahead.
 
Heat and stress made the long days longer ' yet there still never seemed to be enough hours in the day. But gradually, some of the staff started to return. And on December 1, 2005, well ahead of schedule, Metairie Country Club, which was first opened in 1922, was once again open for business.
 
Metairies membership is currently around 1,200 ' down about 200 members from before The Storm. There was a time that Greg was unsure that even if they could restore the course, that the members might not want him to, that golf wasnt anywhere near the top of their priority list.
 
Then they had a Town Hall meeting, and 600 members filled a 250-person facility to voice their support ' and to try to keep their course from becoming a retention pond.
 
They live here. This is their lives: breakfast, lunch, dinner and golf. This is their life, Greg said, pointing out that many have no other place to go.
 
Now at least they can get away from the stuff that theyre going through. Theyre happy to get out here. I dont think Ive had one complaint since we re-opened ' and that's rare in this business.
 
Bill Wegmanns family has been members at Metairie since 1959. Since Katrina, he has moved from Memphis to Baton Rouge to Broussard back to Baton Rouge and now back into his home, out of which he practices law.
 
Golf is now more than recreation.
 
I think when everything else is depressing you, he said, the ability to find something normal is huge.
 
Monty Glorioso has been a Metairie member for 13 years. Hes back to work as a physician, but his house is still four months away from being livable. His family is 350 miles away in Shreveport.
 
I dont have a game worth a darn, but its a great release, he said. I dont know what Id do without my golf course.
 
Said Roland Waguespack, whose house was recently leveled, Its nice to enjoy some greenery in our brown city.'
 
The members feel that they owe a great debt to their pro and their super. The two of them believe that they were just doing what needed to be done. They were just doing their jobs.
 
When we finally got in contact with one another, I said, If youre in, Im in, recalled Alexander. And we went to work.
 
When the process of rebuilding began, Core was a man without ' without just about anything but the clothes on his back. Alexander loaned him some of the essentials; Cutter & Buck provided him with 22 shirts and 10 pair of slacks; FootJoy sent him four pair of shoes.
 
I didnt ask for any of it; they just gave it to me, Greg said. That was special. Ill remember that forever.
 
Hell also forever remember his first hole-in-one. It came during the rebuild, when he was prodded to go to the Country Club of Louisiana to play in a fundraiser for superintendents and golf professionals in the region.
 
And, as luck would have it, there was an award on offer that day for any ace ' a BMW Z4. Not a bad prize for a man without a car.
 
But that day paled in comparison to when the club put on its annual Jingle Bells Pro-Am in December, and to when the ladies held their member-guest tournament in March.
 
Those events were more special than any material possession won. Those events were the tangible confirmations of the normalcy he had tried to restore.
 
Greg Core has his course back. Hes got most of his membership back, too. Hes got a new car. His house, save for the kitchen area, is just about up to par. His wife is due with their first child together on Nov. 1.
 
If God intends for something to happen, its going to happen ' no matter how prepared you are, Martha said.
 
Its just how you handle the aftermath.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related Links:
  • Recovery: Professional Golf Returns to New Orleans
  • Rebirth: History on the Brink of Extinction
  • Golf Channel Airtimes - Golf Chronicles: After Katrina
  • Getty Images

    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

    Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

    Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

    Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

    It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

    Goodbye and good riddance.

    The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

    “What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.

    Amen.

    The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

    Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.



    Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

    But at what cost?

    The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

    The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

    We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

    In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

    We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

    Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

    We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

    “What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

    Amen again.

    We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

    Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

    There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

    This is good governance.

    And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

    This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

    We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

    Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

    Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

    Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

    Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

    David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

    “Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

    Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

    “I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

    Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

    The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

    Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

    Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

    1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

    2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

    While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”