Tiburón scrambled to prep course for LPGA after Irma

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NORTH NAPLES, Fla. Two months after Hurricane Irma swept through Southwest Florida, Tiburón Golf Club is prepping for the largest LPGA tournament of the year.

The CME Group Tour Classic tees off next week, but it took a massive effort to get the course ready.

“Came back and it was like a bomb went off,” Tiburón marketing director Ricky Potts said. “… We lost about 1,500 trees here at Tiburón, about 1,000 roof tiles; our pub and banquet space flooded.”

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Crews worked 30 to 40 extra hours a week cutting down trees, and Friday, they were still planting new ones.

“The first (task) was to open the pathways and create room just to get around the course,” Tiburón Director of Agronomy Jeff Cathey said. “That took the first week, really.”

In charge of the course’s horticulture, Cathey had a tough task ahead of him.

“I knew the cleanup was going to come down to the wire, but I felt comfortable with the turf conditions,” he said.

The course is more barren than last year, but, of course, the pros aren’t supposed to hit it in the trees anyway.

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“I think in spite of Hurricane Irma, the course is really in great shape,” golfer Eric Knorr said.

The grandstands are nearly constructed in advance of Monday’s practice rounds.

“The LPGA has been growing in terms of viewership. There’s a lot of talented players on the tour,” Potts said. “Their social media presence has been incredible. They’ve become kind of a fun tour and that’s a big impact and a big draw to that.”

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