Dryden Park, the City of Modesto’s first 18-hole municipal golf course, has been closed since Feb. 16.
But local golfers can rejoice – it’s scheduled to re-opon on Monday, April 10.
“We’ll have at least nine holes open,” Dryden professional Chris Mendes predicted. “We’re playing it day by day with the river.”
Mendes referred to the nearby Tuolumne River, which borders Dryden’s second, third and fourth fairways. The river overflowed its banks due to heavy rain last month, and standing water remains on the 16th fairway. About 70 percent of the course went underwater, Mendes reported, but only two greens – the 13th and the 17th – were submerged for a few days.
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“The 16th is still pretty swampy. By the 10th, it will be close to playable, we hope,” Mendes said. “There is a possibility we could open all 18. Right now, we’re gearing toward that plan. We caught a break when only two greens went under.”
The damage at Dryden did not approach the devastation unleashed by the flood of 1997. Back then, the course was closed from Jan. 4 to May. Floodwaters drenched everything except the No. 1 tee, the 16th green and the 17th for about 10 days. About 135 trees were lost.
Twenty years later, Dryden will recover more quickly. A tour of the property Tuesday revealed an emerald green carpet – a welcome sight after years of drought – contrasted by the falling of 34 trees. Vandals burnt one tree and, in a bit of crass ingenuity, yanked turf on the third green and spliced it together on a nearby fallen cork oak. The Tuolumne still creeps to the edges of the second, third and fourth holes.
By the way, the sentinel valley oak still stands in the middle of the par-4 sixth.
Most of the worst fairway damage took place at the 16th. Mendes hinted that the par-4 might be shorted to an uphill par-3, at least for a while, next month. When Dryden cranks back into operation, it will feature a full fleet of 40 golf carts with new batteries.
“We are extremely proud of superintendent Scott Dickson and his team from BrightView Golf Maintenance for their diligence to re-opon the golf course after facing such dire conditions,” General Manager Kelly Smith said. “This was a true team effort and we are looking forward to not only welcoming back our loyal golfers but new golfers from in and around our area.”
Dryden, designed by the prolific Billy Bell, opened in 1961. KemperSports oversees the day-to-day operation.