Silver Lakes to rise again
6 July 2011
The Silver Lakes golf facility in Alabama, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, will reopen in September after damage sustained during a tornado left it unplayable.
The rated tornado hit Silver Lakes on 27 April, taking out more than 38,000 trees and destroying some buildings. “The destruction of the tornado was so massive that we considered closing Silver Lakes,” said Dr David Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, which owns the RTJ Trail courses.
Jason Callan, director of golf at Silver Lakes, said: “In late May, it was virtually impossible to access this area. While we received millions of dollars in damage, we did not lose one life within our staff, which is remarkable. Our team has pulled together and done a phenomenal job. While play on our golf courses will return in September, the clubhouse is available for special events.”
“We have more than 70 people working on the courses and I am pleased to announce Silver Lakes will reopen 36 holes of golf in September,” said Bronner. Architect Roger Rulewich, who was the lead designer for the Robert Trent Jones firm when the Trail were originally constructed, is advising on the reconstructing, and making design changes at the same time.
“In the coming months, we will be upgrading all the greens with Champion ultra dwarf bermudagrass, repairing structural damage caused by the tornado and incorporating Roger’s design recommendations,” said John Cannon, president of Sunbelt Golf Corporation, which operates the courses. “Since the tornado, we have been able to keep all our staff working and remain committed to this region. These employees and the 50 others working every day to bring Silver Lakes back to life are the real heroes in this story. Employees from accounting and food service worked alongside our golf and maintenance staff to clear the courses of debris and preserve much of the original design. Perhaps appropriately named for the situation, the Mindbreaker, Heartbreaker and Backbreaker will be back in action by the end of September, along with the short course.”