PANAMA CITY, Florida. – Nearly five months after Hurricane Michael stormed through Northwest Florida, Bay Point Golf Club here in will re-open its Nicklaus on March 1. The hurricane blew through with winds at 100 mph only three days after the Nicklaus Course re-opened from a renovation project to its greens. Those new TifEagle greens held up well during and after Michael, according to Bay Point General Manager Ryan Mulvey, but the Nicklaus Course lost approximately 800 trees.
The Meadows Course, Mulvey said, lost approximately 2,800 trees and remains closed for cleanup. Each course is managed by KemperSports. Sheraton Bay Point Resort, adjacent to the golf club, is expected to re-open in August.
“Just the amount of debris on the (Nicklaus) course took weeks to clean up,’’ Mulvey said. “Obviously the first thing was getting to the greens. We got our pumping station fired back up and started watering the greens. And getting the bunkers back into shape was really an undertaking from where they were after the storm to where they are now.
“I say it a lot, but I can’t be more proud of our team. These guys were pulling huge branches out of ponds that had been sitting in there for three months. Their determination to get course back open was amazing.’’
The Nicklaus Course will re-open March 1, Mulvey said, with a tee sheet filled with more than 167 players. What those players will, according to Mulvey, will see a course “completely transformed’’ from before the storm. In particular, the voids where live oak, magnolia and palm trees one stood, have been replaced by wild flowers.
“We took a lot of the acreage that was empty and did a lot of things to boost the aesthetics of the course,’’ Mulvey said. “Visually, the course looks completely different, but the playability is going to be great – maybe even a little more fun average golfers.’’