Meadowbrook, Hiawatha golf courses now giant water hazards

  • Article by: LIZ SAWYER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 10, 2014 - 5:54 AM

Flooding means the Meadowbrook and Hiawatha golf courses might close for year.


Joseph Schmerler, of the Meadowbrook Golf Course grounds crew, cut the lawn around the water-soaked course, which is closed until further notice.

Photo: Bruce Bisping •,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Rowboats have replaced golf carts, greens are submerged and three holes have formed into one giant lake at Meadowbrook Golf Course, one of two Minneapolis public golf courses the city might be forced to close for the season.

It could cost the city nearly $1 million in revenue if Meadowbrook and Hiawatha, two of its most popular golf courses, have to stop operations.

The two were closed to the public in mid-June after relentless rain caused Minnehaha Creek to spill onto fairways, rendering them unplayable. Dozens of indoor workers were laid off and golfers were forced to tee off elsewhere.

“The whole place looks like a lake,” said Paul Schmidt, the lone attendant at Meadowbrook, as he surveyed the waterlogged course Wednesday. “It’s devastating.”

The city rented pumps and bought sandbags to limit the damage, but the greens were too wet for play.

Hiawatha was able to pump out most of its standing water, but Meadowbrook wasn’t so lucky. Fifteen of the course’s 18 holes are submerged — the worst under 8 to 10 feet of water — and maintenance workers need rowboats to reach certain parts of the course. Three holes are now connected in one giant body of water, filled with algae.

And the condition is not expected to change soon.

“We’re kind of at the mercy of Mother Nature right now,” said Sara Ackmann, who heads golf, ice and winter programs at the Park and Recreation Board. “It’s really timing and luck at this point.”

During the week, Minneapolis loses between $5,000 and $7,000 each day a golf course is closed. On the weekend, that figure ranges from $12,000 to $15,000 per day, Ackmann said. If the city were to close both courses for the rest of the year, the overall revenue loss could reach $900,000.

Dead and dying turf

But repairing the damage will be costly as well.

Officials from the University of Minnesota assessed Hiawatha’s course and ultimately recommended the Park Board simply kill the fairway and start over, Ackmann said. Workers would have to reseed all of the damaged greens by September in order to have a good shot at making that plan work, she said.

Despite the lack of business, maintenance crews at both courses are on duty because the turf that’s unscathed still requires care.

“If we were to just let everybody go and just sit back and wait, we would lose the entire golf course,” Ackmann said. “So, it is imperative that we continue to maintain what we have as if we were open.”

The city has moved Hiawatha and Meadowbrook leagues to the remaining four Park Board courses. Season passes are also honored within the Park Board system.

One silver lining, Ackmann said, is that three of the city’s courses are in the best condition in years. Columbia, Gross National and Theodore Wirth are likely doing so well because they’re at higher elevations with different soil compositions than Hiawatha and Meadowbrook.

At Hiawatha, only two holes remain surrounded by water. “Now we’re just left with a lot of dead turf,” said general manager Dan Stoneburg.

The course is still closed, but the driving range is back up and running, Stoneburg said.

  • related content

  • Flooding prompts Dayton to seek disaster declaration

    Wednesday July 9, 2014

    Gov. Mark Dayton requested Wednesday that President Obama declare a major disaster in Minnesota from heavy rain and flooding last...

  • After land slide, portion of West River Parkway closed

    Wednesday July 9, 2014

    A portion of West River Parkway that was closed three weeks ago due to a massive land slide looks like it will be shut down indefinitely.

  • Paul Schmidt

  • Much of Meadowbrook Golf Course is flooded, weeks after storms and heavy rains hit the area.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


St. Louis 2
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Miami 7 FINAL
Washington 11
Detroit 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 6 FINAL
Baltimore 5
NY Yankees 7 FINAL
Houston 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 2
Cincinnati 8 FINAL
LA Angels 6
Chicago Cubs 7 FINAL
Kansas City 0
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
San Francisco 11
Chicago WSox 4 FINAL
Cleveland 1
Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Oakland 7
Seattle 5 FINAL
San Diego 8
Texas 5 FINAL
Los Angeles 10
Colorado 11 FINAL
Arizona 10
Arizona 1 FINAL
Colorado 2
Houston 99 FINAL
Washington 91
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Brooklyn 107
Minnesota 88 FINAL
New Orleans 110
Philadelphia 86 FINAL
Cleveland 87
Detroit 102 FINAL
Miami 109
LA Clippers 119 FINAL
Boston 106
Dallas 99 FINAL
Indiana 104
Memphis 89 FINAL
San Antonio 103
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Phoenix 97
Washington 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 2
Calgary 5 FINAL
Nashville 2
Boston 2 FINAL(OT)
Carolina 1
Detroit 4 FINAL
NY Islanders 5
Florida 4 FINAL
Ottawa 2
Anaheim 2 FINAL
New Jersey 1
Chicago 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
San Jose 2 FINAL(SO)
Pittsburgh 3
Michigan State 76 FINAL
Louisville 70
Gonzaga 52 FINAL
Duke 66
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Toronto FC 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
(7) Florida State 74 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 80
Villanova 70 FINAL
West Virginia 75
Michigan 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 60
Temple 69 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 57
Siena 50 FINAL
Louisiana 52
St Marys-CA 66 FINAL
(5) Baylor 68 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77


question of the day

Poll: Who are you rooting for in the NCAA Final Four?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters