BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — As the skies cleared after Saturday’s powerful storm, the ruin at Ironwood Golf Course southwest of Grand Rapids became apparent: trees that had stood for decades were destroyed and debris littered every fairway.
“Total devastation,” owner Joy Bradley said.
The family-owned golf course in Byron Township was forced to close for a week in 1998 to clean up damage caused by straight-line winds. This time, owners told 24 Hour News 8, the damage is “probably 10 times worse than that.”
The course had been cleared by the time the storm tore over it Saturday afternoon.
“It probably only lasted 5 minutes, 10 minutes,” Bradley said.
That was long enough.
“When we pulled up, I could see kind of the swath down through here and the willow tree behind us — which has kind of been a staple tree that’s been there for 40 years — toppled over,” Bradley’s daughter, Kim Davidson, said.
As the course horticulturist, she is responsible for all the landscaping.
“I just lost it. I was bawling,” she said.
Every hole has been impacted by the damage, which the NWS on Monday said was caused by straight-line winds up to 100 mph — as strong as those seen in an EF-1 tornado.
Storm damage at Ironwood Golf Course
Storm damage at Ironwood Golf Course x
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“I cannot believe this. This is unbelievable. I don’t want to have to go through this again. We already did it once,” Bradley said.
But the 1998 incident gave the family the experience to deal with the damage. Sunday, they had already contacted a tree removal service. They hope insurance will cover the damages and lost revenue.
“You have to look at what really matters — that no one was hurt, buildings are good, and that’s what really matters,” Bradley said.
The massive cleanup effort is a reminder of an inescapable fact, mother and daughter said: “Mother Nature … she rules.”
The best case scenario, the owners said, is that the course will be able to reopen in two weeks.
Below, see aerial footage of the damage at Ironwood Golf Course courtesy Drew Hartman. App users can click here to watch.