TPC River Highlands

Tropical Storm Gave New Meaning to the 13th Hole at TPC River Highlands

Major course repairs, to fix a 75-foot deep sinkhole, were required before this year's Travelers Championship.

NBC Connecticut

The Traveler’s Championship tees off officially on Thursday and the course is in perfect condition. That, however, was hardly the case last fall when the remnants of Hurricane Ida did incredible damage to the 13th hole.

It took a monumental effort to repair, and it wasn’t just the golf course maintenance crew. It was much more complicated than that.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) played a large role and the state needed to declare an emergency order to get this project done for this year’s tournament.

The destructive aftermath of Tropical Storm Ida left a gigantic sinkhole. Travelers Championship tournament director Nathan Grube couldn’t believe the damage when he saw the first photos.

“I was like, 'Oh what is that?' Then I looked and I was like, 'Wait a minute,' and I’m zooming in, and I’m like, 'that’s the 13th tee box I think,'” Grube said.

The damage was adjacent to hole 13’s par-5 fairway. Complicating matters were train tracks, directly over the hole, on state-controlled right-of-way property. The DOT needed to respond.

“When that washout happened, we sprang into action with an emergency declaration to get repair work started immediately,” said DOT spokesperson Josh Morgan.

The project was not easy as the hole below revealed an even bigger concern.

“Underneath that area was also the Buckeye pipeline supplying jet fuel up to Bradley airport,” Morgan said.

Tackling the project, O&G industries of Torrington was contracted and immediately assessed the situation.

“[The storm] left a hole with 40-foot vertical sides and it funneled down about 60 to 75 feet deep,” said project superintendent Pete Hinman.

Working seven days a week, the project took thousands of hours of labor and just as much landscape fill.

“You’re looking at a total of 18 to 19,000 yards of fill that went back into the hole,” Hinman said.

The project required extensive engineering and labor, but the hole was repaired by December. Grass and sod were planted in the spring, just in time to look perfect for this week’s tournament.

“When you look at the engineering project that the TPC, the state of Connecticut, and how they put that back together, that was amazing,” Grube said.

The project was funded by the state and cost about $5 million. In addition to repairs, additional drainage was engineered to help prevent similar future occurrences.

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