Quail Run is open for business after flooding in March destroyed much of the course south of the levee. Play began for the first time this season on Monday.
Originally, Quail Run was designed with seven holes on the north side and 11 others near the banks of the Loup River. After that same river deposited hundreds of large ice chunks and tons of sand on fairways and greens about a month ago, it left the course unplayable as laid out.
Rather than surrender to the elements, the city of Columbus chose to redesign the north end to in order to utilize the course as a nine-hole setup. Whether or not the south side will be reconstructed, redesigned or scrapped all together, remains in question.
"The plan came about when the flood happened," said Doug Moore, Columbus Public Property Director during an interview Friday.
"We wanted to try to get something together. We knew we had seven holes on the north side. Everything on the south side is in really poor shape, so we needed to go with a different plan if we wanted to open the course at all."
The city of Columbus released a public announcement about Quail Run Friday morning detailing some of the updates on the course and its potential future.
In it, the release explains that the process moving forward will take time since certain matters, the major being an assessment of the damage, are outside of the city's control.
Columbus is currently working with its insurance carrier, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency "to determine a plan of action at Quail Run Golf Course while taking extreme care to be good stewards of city resources," the release said.
"Presently, the city's insurance provider has assigned an adjuster," it continued. "An inspection has been complete; the city is waiting on the report from the adjuster."
Wednesday FEMA approved Platte County for public assistance, a process the city is currently in the middle of.
Moore and his staff, along with the PGA professional at Quail, Brent McGrew worked together on adjusting the front part of the course to make it playable for nine holes.
Two par-3 holes were added - one at the nursery green and another at the chipping green. The park board and city council will be considering a rate adjustment to play the course. The adjustment, if approved, is to apply VanBerg Rates at Quail Run.
"What kind of options do we have, if there would be any on the south side playable, which took us a while to figure that out because of all of the ice and different things on the south side," Moore said about the immediate conversations after the flood. "We knew there would be nothing available on the south side, so we had to come up with a plan."
The main idea was to find a way to adjust the north setting to nine holes in order to make it possible for continued league play at VanBerg and Quail.
"It's an important part of the community, and we realize that. We know we've got a tough road ahead to come up with some solutions for the south side," Moore said. "Nothing has been decided yet, but it's important for our community. A lot of people take a lot of pride in the golf course."
At present, the two priorities for Quail, according to the release, were repairing the irrigation system and exploring what options there are moving forward.
The entirety of the course is irrigated using a pond on the south side, a pond that was severely damaged in the flood. In order for the front to remain playable, the city must find a way to water the new layout.
Additionally, as the release details, whatever is next is completely dependent on what the insurance and Public Assistance Grant allow.
"I wouldn't put a timetable on anything," Moore said. "We're looking at working with FEMA and different organizations to figure out what our options are."
Those organizations include the Turfgrass Science program at the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska Forest Service.
"There are just so many different aspects of what has to be done from irrigation to fairways, to greens, trees, bunkers; everything is affected," Moore said. "Some trees that were knocked down could completely change the character of the course."
Ultimately, once the process is over, the decision will be made by the city council whether to repair the portion of Quail Run south of the levee as is, redesign the layout or scrap it entirely in favor of nine holes north of the levee or something different.
For Moore and his staff, their focus is to continue on as if the back will be repaired, and what it would take to make that happen.
"My job is to come up with possible solutions to the problems we have," he said. "The city council will make the final decisions of where we go. My job is to come up with information for the council to make a decision."
Though the decision may be made within the next few weeks or months, if repairs or redesigns are chosen, it would be almost impossible to have those completed and Quail Run returned to an 18-hole course any time in 2019.
"By the time we'd reseed a lot of the areas, we'd be past the growing season until fall," Moore said. "The chances of us playing (on the south side) this year are...very low."
The Telegram will continue to follow this developing story on the future of Quail Run Golf Course.
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com