Cleanup At Country Club Going Better Than Expected

Best of all, the golf course is open again

After Tropical Storm Lidia blew through here in late August, parts of the Cabo San Lucas Country Club were buried under several feet of sand and dirt. The Los Cabos Golf Resort (which sits on the country club property) and several homes were flooded, the main drive into the property was pretty much filled in with sand, and five holes on the golf course were badly damaged. And, oh yes, the guard house at the entrance was apparently washed off to China. Gone. They erected a white Costco tent for about a month or more.

But now, two months after the storm, things at the country club are going better than anyone expected. Both the resort part and the golf course part are open for partial business again, and have recovered from much of Lidia’s damage.

countryclub.JPGThere are two owners out there, the timeshare, (resort), and the golf course. The timeshare is still owned by the original Reisdorf family who sold the golf course and individual homesites along the golf course, to a Mexican developer who sunk a fortune into modernizing the golf course and homesites, including the famous wall that failed to hold things together during Lidia. When that wall broke, water and sand went rushing downstream, taking out four golf holes, gushed across the fourlane, and then took out the Chevrolet dealer, Vagabundos trailer park, badly damaged the RIU hotel, and about a dozen assorted small businesses.

Raul Lopez, the head of the timeshare sales for the resort, said the recovery time was pretty much the same as it was for previous storms. After Hurricane Julietta it took them 48 days to reopen; 43 days for Odile; and 45 days with Lidia.

The difference with Lidia was that the damage caused was more from water than wind, and brought with it a different kind of devastation and recovery.

Despite the damage, Raul is looking on the bright side. “With all the disaster this storm caused, some good has come out of it,” he says. For example, "the water flooded the basement area of the hotel and ruined all the electronics and phone systems that were there". But, as he pointed out, they needed to be updated anyway, and the new systems are much more modern and efficient.

The lower pool was filled with mud, but has been cleaned and refilled. The only area left to be worked on is the event area where parties, weddings, and events are held. This area will be fixed by the time you read this.

The timeshare part is open and receiving guests. However, they are warning people there is no internet at this time, and they're pretty mum on when that's going to be fixed. As always, there are day passes available for locals who want to enjoy a day around the pool. We got a tour, and the pool and grounds look as charming and welcoming as ever.

The restaurant is also open. And the road in to the Country Club property will be finished in two parts.

Raul tells us timeshare sales will resume this month. The original developers of the resort, the Reisdorf family, are now doing their own marketing. They will be offering both golf and non-golf packages to the public, including accelerated use for older customers. (In case you’re 60 years old and don’t think you’re going to live to be 90). The memberships they will be offering now are more flexible and applicable to the times. Hopefully, that means the annual maintenance fees will be a little more reasonable. People are walking away from their timeshares because of those fees. (The timeshare people say they will ruin your credit in the States if you do that, but we know two parties who walked, and their credit was not impacted).

Overall, “we’re coming back better than ever,” says Raul, who by the way, is a scratch golfer. (Scratch is good).

As often happens, there is a lot of finger pointing as to who should have done what and when. According to Alfonso Terrazas, the manager of the country club part, (think golf and nice homes along the course), the government has had clearance since 2012 to build a channel that would serve as a path for the arroyos in case of a storm. But instead of building a channel, they spent the money on the bridge that serves the new highway to the airport (which runs behind and uphill from the country club) with the bridge foundation supports half in and half out of the arroyo. This is good planning unless a storm hits. With Lidia, it turned out to be a ‘perfect storm’ of events that caused devastation beyond anyone’s planning or imagination when chunks of that bridge whooshed downhill, into the wall the country club built. Then more whoosh with more debris.

Another problem was squatters in one of the two arroyos. The head squatter, who sold land in the federally owned arroyo to people desperate for a home, bulldozed a wall of sand up into a bank to make his buyers feel safe living below grade in an arroyo, and that pushed more water into the one remaining arroyo. Instead of flowing in two directions into two arroyos, the water from the storm was forced into one direction.

Most of the homes in that squatter camp perished, along with many dozens of people. The city is denying more than a half dozen people died there, possibly because they are to blame, along with federal officials, for allowing the homes to be built there. They do try to evacuate people before the storm, but because the city won't protect the homes from looters, they are reluctant to leave.

According to Terrazas, most of the wall actually held, but it was over topped. The bridge supports that were for some reason built half in the arroyo collected debris (dirt, mud, trees, trash) that built up on the north side of the bridge, to the point that it became a dam. As the debris mounted, so did the pressure, Then the bridge broke, the wall over topped, and all hell broke loose. Alfonso says they are still finding pieces of the bridge on country club property.

There are plenty of lawsuits flying around, with blame being placed on multiple parties.

Don Shirer, a country club homeowner since 1992, estimates that during Lidia, the water level in his home reached at least four feet high. He lost everything.

Don’s biggest fear is that he and the other home owners who live on the golf course will be abandoned, that the damaged part of the property will not be rebuilt, and that his home will no longer have value. Then, instead of living on a beautiful piece of property surrounded by lush vegetation in the middle of one of the prettiest golf courses in Cabo, he’s afraid that from now on he’ll be overlooking a landscape that looks like something out of Mad Max.

Alfonso insists that this is not the case. The front nine holes of the golf course survived the storm without a scratch, and are now open. Members can play 16,17 or 18 holes of golf. Two holes on the back nine that were thought to have been lost have survived. Hole #10 is 75 percent restored and will be refinished shortly, and hole #11 is 90 percent there and also will be patched up soon. Hole #15, which is where Don lives, will be moved up to the top of the golf course, and in front of his house, a beautiful nine-hole, executive par 3 course will be built.

More than 1,300 dump truck loads of dirt have been relocated from the lower end of the property and the highway to the back and sides of the property. Alfonso says they’re also taking steps to raise the level of the ground to protect themselves against any future storm. The country club is considering making substantial changes to some holes on the  course, those that are not currently open, and officials are  meeting with various golf course designers.

He added that the country club is not selling memberships at this time, but will possibly start again in January, when plans for the golf course have firmed up more. However, they will make "deals" with their regulars that will tide them over until all is back to normal. That needs to be done on an individual basis, so those people need to go into the clubhouse and negotiate in person.

Meanwhile, their ever popular drinking and driving is open. Every night but Sunday they shine the lights on the range and toss tables and chairs out. We all have drinks, maybe also dinner, and drive some balls. It's fun even for non golfers who think they might want to whack a ball around and see if they like golf. They have clubs to borrow and you buy a sack of balls. It's a hoot.