TUPPER LAKE - Clarence Bell was greeted with an unpleasant surprise when he walked into the Tupper Lake Golf Course pro shop on March 28.
Water from the spring snowmelt had seeped into the back of the building, where the ladies locker room is, and was beginning to run across the floor. An hour later, Bell, the club's director of golf, was walking through water 6 inches deep as it rushed into the building.
"There was just no stopping it," Bell said. "I've only been here a couple of years, and it hasn't happened since I've been here."
Tupper Lake Golf Course Director of Golf Clarence Bell shows off one of the pro shop’s new lockers.
(Enterprise photo — Shaun Kittle)
The water did serious damage to the shop. The men's and women's lockers were ruined, and so was the lower 3 feet of walls from the back to the front of the building. A newly installed laminate floor in the pro shop's office buckled from the moisture, and all of the carpeting in the facility, 1,000 square feet of it, was ruined.
Since then, repairs have been made, and the pro shop is looking better than ever.
Bell pointed out the new pine walls and lockers. So far, he said, golfers really seem to like the change. Soon, white birch name plates with numbers will be added to each locker door.
The building is insured through the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal, but the deductible for flood damage is $25,000, too high to help the pro shop. Michael Brown, an insurance adjuster for NYMIR, estimated that repairs would cost about $20,000.
The town of Tupper Lake owns the golf course, and the town board passed a resolution shortly after the flooding to allocate up to $18,000 for repairs to the pro shop. Bell said those repairs came in just under that amount, something he attributed to all of the help he received.
"The guys that work up here on the golf course did a lot of work around here to help out," Bell said. "I wasn't dressed in golf clothes the first few weeks we were open. I was in jeans, swinging a hammer. It was a group effort, for sure."
Jim Meade Construction did a lot of the construction work and Rich Moeller from RGM Flooring sold industrial-strength carpeting to the club at cost and installed it for free. Unlike the last carpeting, this carpeting is in 2-by-2-foot tiles, which can be easily removed if another flood happens.
Bell said steps are also being taken to improve drainage behind the building so there isn't a repeat of the incident.
"We're trying to think ahead, now that we know that this can happen," Bell said. "If it looks like it's going to be another nasty spring, we can address these issues earlier."
The golf course reopened April 18, but the pro shop wasn't finished until May 16.
Bell said juggling construction days with the influx of golfers proved to be the biggest challenge. That didn't stop him from making improvements to the golf course, though. Bell said there are some new tee blockers, yardage markers and flags, and improvements were also made to irrigation.
Bell said the golf course is a tremendous asset to Tupper Lake, and he'd like to see it continue to improve and draw more people into the area.
"There's the mountain behind us, the lake below us, a lot of mountainous terrain," Bell said. "Those are things you can't buy, and we already have that. We have a lot of things around here that you can't buy as far as aesthetic value. What we need to do is bring our course up to speed as far as our fairways, our tees, our greens and become a high-end golf course. The condition of the course is going to do that."
Bell said he thinks all of the golf courses in the area can pull together to make the Tri-Lakes region a draw for golfers.
"When people come to the area, we want them to play our course," Bell said. "If they come and play here, we want them to also go play in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. We want to be part of that whole circuit. Regionalism is key for this economy up here. If we can jump on board and be in the same league as some of the better courses around, it'll help everybody."