For what felt like the 100th time, 2020 seemed to have it in for Colorado high school athletics. With the boys golf state championships a month away, it wasn’t a global pandemic that threatened the chances of playing out the two rounds at Dos Rios Country Club.
It was the Colorado weather that reared its ugly head.
On Tuesday, Sept. 8 the weather forecast in Gunnison called for extreme wind conditions. On top of that, there was going to be snow. As the front passed through the town, the conditions were every bit as bad as any weather app or TV meteorologist said they’d be.
When things were over, the Dos Rios Country Club — the site of the Class 3A boys golf tournament — was a mess.
“We lost 40-plus trees on the golf course and thousands of branches and leaves,” general manager Al Pryor said. “It devastated the driving range. We have a line of poles that hold up the net and those poles cracked like toothpicks. It was horrible.”
Pryor was faced with a decision. He could see the amount of work that it was going to take to get the course playable again. Pryor and his course superintendent Jim Mills arrived at the course at 8:30 a.m. the next morning and Pryor began to think he was going to have to make a very tough call to associate commissioner Tom Robinson.
“I thought then that I was going to call Tom and cancel the entire event,” Pryor said. “There was no way. With the devastation I thought it was going to take two or three weeks to get it cleaned up to where it was playable.”
After considering the options, Pryor reached into his deep Texas roots and decided that rather than pass the buck, it was time to roll up his sleeves and get to work.
Gunnison is a small community and one that is proud to host an event like the boys golf state tournament. He gathered his staff and called for a member workday to start clearing and repairing the course. It was vital that the members got to enjoy the last remaining fall days to play themselves, but Pryor also wanted to give the high school athletes a memorable experience at his facility.
“We had 25-plus people show for two days with chainsaws, lift trailers and probably got about 40 percent of the big stuff out of the playable areas,” Pryor said. “That left tons of stuff to do, but I knew we’d get it done. When you see it next weekend, it looks like nothing happened.”
When the first players step up to the No. 1 and No. 10 tee boxes at 9 a.m. Monday morning, disaster will have officially been averted in a year where disaster has been the norm.
When recounting the events that took place early last month and what had been done since then, it gives Pryor a huge feeling of pride toward his staff and the community that he has made his home.
“I’ve been the PGA for 45 years, since 1975, and I’ve never seen anything this fulfilling as a small group, a small town that came together,” he said. “Wielding a chainsaw for eight or nine hours a day when you’re not used to it is hard. I had to tell them to stop because everyone was getting tired and I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. It was fulfilling to see this group of people come together to make sure the golf tournament could facilitate a state tournament. It was wonderful.”