By Ken MacLeod
The Moore Golf & Athletic Club is rapidly returning to a semblance of normality and could reopen to member play within two weeks, but life for many of those members and some of the high school golfers who used the course will never be the same.
Jason Beauchamp, the general manager who spent a terrifying afternoon May 20 huddled in a closet while the monster tornado churned by just 200 yards away, covering his course with debris, blowing out windows and puncturing the roof, is thankful to be alive. It could have been much worse.
For starters, the course was emptied of golfers an hour earlier because of lightning. All but one of his employees had also left. The two remianing knew from reports and from watching themselves, that the tornado was heading directly at them. It veered just a bit north, sparing the two-story clubhouse from utter destruction.
Instead, crews from Lindsey Management, which owns the golf course, arrived quickly and began repairing some of the gaping holes in the roof, just in time to prevent the entire facility from being ruined by subsequent heavy rains.
The course hopes to reopen its driving range on Monday. Superintendent Jeremy McPherson and his crew along with many volunteers have done a great job picking up the course. He will be joined on Tuesday by 12 or more superintendents from around the state to help with green repairs, although the greens really did not suffer as much as one would expect with all the debris landing on the course.
When Beauchamp emerged shaken but unharmed, he saw a new world. Insulation floated to the ground like snow. The course was covered with every item imaginable.
"Anything we found that could be a momento or of value to anyone, we kept and have them spread out on a grill table," Beauchamp said. "We found teddy bears, baseball cards, pictures, lots of other stuff. But most was building material from houses. Wood, drywall, lots of insulation."
Beauchamp said at least seven members that he knows of have lost their homes and he expects that number to rise as more check in. Moore boys golf coach Ryan Dukes said two of his players lost homes and he believed that several players from Southmoore had lost their houses as well.
"One of my players actually found his clubs in the debris," Dukes said. "There was dirt and mud all over them and they were dinged up, but probably still usuable"
Beauchamp said took video of the approaching storm, then called his wife to make sure he and his child were safe, told he loved her then got into the interior closet.
"It was really scary," he said. "The lights were out, there was no communication. I thought we were in the path of destruction and when we started hearing the roar and the windows going out and the debris hitting the building, I thought this could be it. It wasn’t until later that I realized the path was a few hundred yards away and how fortunate we were that we were just in the debris field."
Beauchamp began work at the Moore G&AC about a week before a large tornado went through Moore in 2003, that one missing the course entirely. His wife Kristin was in a building that had the roof torn off by that tornado.
"Between living and working in Moore, you almost just feel it’s a matter of time until you’re in a tornado," he said. "You wonder if they’re going to figure you what’s going on."
One way golfers can help tornado victims is by participating in the Tee It Up Fore Oklahoma Charity Pro-Am slated June 14 at Willow Creek Golf & Country Club.
The 18-hole tournament will feature teams with a club professional paired with three amateurs, with teams playing a two net best-ball competition. The tournament is sponsored by South Central Section PGA Foundation. Al proceeds will go to Oklahoma charities to assist with the relief effort. To sponsor the tournament or enter a team, go to www.southcentralpga.com or email Cimarron Grubb at email@example.com or call 405-388-2577.