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Hurricane Katrina does a number on Florida, Gulf Coast courses

Hurricane Katrina, which grew from a minimal hurricane to a full-scale killer, cut a swath from South Florida to the Gulf Coast and, even after she lost strength over land, continued to bedevil people hundreds of miles inland and up into the mid-Atlantic and northern states.

Along the way, it flooded whole cities, downed houses and buildings, cut power and caused, at the least, hundreds of fatalities. The storm caused devastating losses to businesses, including golf courses.

The storm hit South Florida first and surprised people with its fury, though it was still rated a minimal hurricane at that point, killing an estimated 100 people.

Golf courses in south Miami-Dade were hit the hardest. Although high winds and around 13 inches of rain hit the area, many courses escaped severe damage.

Others weren't so lucky. Redland Country Club in Homestead, which was besieged by Hurricane Andrew, was flooded with up to six feet of water in places. About half the course was still submerged by mid-week.

Keys Gate Golf and Tennis Club suffered both wind and water damage, with flooding up to three feet and ceiling tiles of the clubhouse blown off, damaging the floor. Officials there told the Miami Herald it expected to be closed up to two weeks, while Redland hopes to be open sooner.

The Doral Golf Resort and Spa suffered downed trees, particularly the Blue Monster, with officials saying they also hoped to be open by the weekend. Crandon Park and other country-run courses suffered damage, but are back in business, though Greynolds' irrigation system was damaged by fallen trees and was not expected to be open by the weekend.

The storm gained strength as it hit the open Gulf of Mexico and eventually barreled into the Gulf Coast states, causing catastrophic damage to Louisiana and Mississippi. Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, already hit by Hurricane Dennis earlier this year, largely escaped severe damage, though wind, tides and water did cause some courses to close.

The storm closed U.S. 98 between Fort Walton Beach and Destin, though it has since re-opened. Interstate-10 and U.S. 90 were also damaged, but are up and working as well. Katrina also closed bridges, flooded streets, caused power outages and caused severe beach erosion.

About 90,000 homes in the Panhandle lost power, though most of it has been restored. Still, natural gas facilities, responsible for about a third of the electricity generated for the area, have been shut down. The port of Destin/Panama City was also shut down.

Officials at the Lost Key Golf Club near Pensacola were still assessing damage; they were able to get to the island only Wednesday morning and had just had power restored. Others suffered minor damage.

"We got a lot of wind and rain, but it's fine today," said Tina Strickland of the Edgewater Beach Resort and Golf Club. "Yesterday, it was really rough. We still have rough waves, and the red flags are flying because of the undertow, but it's calmed down. There's a little debris on the golf course, but it's cleaned up and everything's ready."

Kiva Dunes in Gulf Shores, Alabama said it plans to be open by the weekend, after surviving winds estimated at 100 miles per hour.

"We do have some cleanup work to do," said Kiva Dunes' Chris Wilkinson. "There's some standing water and some sand that blew on to the golf course. They're starting to pump the water out now. There is no major damage, no lost trees. There was a little damage to some homes on the course, so we got fairly lucky, I guess."

The Fort Walton Beach Club was even more fortunate: "I think we lost only one tree," said the club's Mike Marino. "We dodged a bullet this time."

Further west, courses in Mississippi and Louisiana were devastated. Calls to the area could not get through as officials struggled to repair communications networks.

Support the Red Cross

The TravelGolf.com team would like to express our support for the people of New Orleans and other coastal areas devastated by the storm. We encourage readers to help support the American Red Cross with a generous monetary donation.

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