Flood waters create new hazard on Pierz Golf Course

Engineer hired to keep erosion from becoming a dangerous handicap

The city of Pierz will spend $11,385 to figure out what to do with the erosion causing a new hazard near the number 5 fairway at its golf course. While golfers may enjoy a hazard or two, this one is a risk to their safety.

The city of Pierz signed an agreement with city engineer Scott Hedlund of Short Elliott Hendrickson to develop a plan to control the erosion near the Hillman Creek that runs through the Pierz Golf Course before heading into the Skunk River. In the meantime, an orange fence has been put up along the fairway on hole 5 to keep golfers from the 60-foot stretch that is now a hazard.

Last summer, heavy storms caused flooding at the Pierz Golf Course and Campgrounds, resulting in problems at the campground. This spring, the damage near the golf course is clearly visible.

The hill that borders the south side of the number 5 fairway along the Hillman Creek is showing severe erosion, which caused Golf Course and Parks Superintendent Daniel Baert concern last fall already. This spring, the area was more hazardous as the spring thaw caused the area to heave.

Baert said much of the damage most likely started last year during what he called the “Freedom Fest” storm in mid-July 2016. So much flooding occurred in the county at that time, portions of Morrison County were declared as a flood disaster area.

“I’ve been watching it,” said Baert. “I felt it was starting to get unsafe and brought it to the Park Board last fall and this spring.”

It’s as bad as he’s ever seen it in the 14 years he’s been at the course, Baert said.

Flooding is a problem every year, said Mayor Toby Egan, who also serves on the Park Board.

“It floods several times a year usually, right next to our campground where the two rivers — the Skunk River and the Hillman Creek — meet,” Egan said.

Those waters flood out the campground, so the city loses revenue during a wet year.

“Even on an average year, we lose business. On a real wet year, we lose a lot of camping and golfing business. It comes up on hole number one once in a while, too,” Egan said. “That’s why it’s so important we acquired that Hiemenz property (61 acres to the south of the golf course) to do some alternate campsites up there.”

The Hillman Creek never rises to the height of the fifth hole, but the volume and speed of the water when it’s high cuts the dirt out below the edge.

“Kind of cutting the legs out of it,” Egan said.

The city put up an orange fence to keep golfers from going near the edge, where they may fall through or over.

If a golfer hits a ball near or over the edge, Baert said they should consider it lost and move on.

The City Council approved an agreement with city’s engineer Scott Hedlund of Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) to look at the situation. Hedlund will determine what is necessary not only to stabilize the area, but to look for solutions to keep it from re-occurring.

The damage is about 60 feet along the creek, Hedlund said.

SEH will look at either rebuilding the slope to stabilize it, grade it back, or try to bring material in to restore the material that was there before it eroded, Hedlund said.

“But it’s going to require permitting — from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Army Corps of Engineers,” he said.

SEH will also work with the Soil and Water Conservation District, which may provide a funding source for the work.

The goal, Hedlund said, would be to complete the work during the current construction season.

“It’s going to depend upon funding and things, but it’s a priority for the city,” Hedlund said.

The Pierz Golf Course was built in the 1930s and opened in 1939.

Baert said the first receipt he has on file is for 75 cents for 18 holes of golf, dated May 14, 1939.