A unique irrigation system (and heroic fire department) may have saved this much-anticipated new golf course

In recent weeks, wildfires have ravaged parts of the country. They’ve even impacted golf courses, as well.

Last week, a wildfire started near North Platte, Nebraska, and quickly threatened GrayBull Club, a Dormie Network property in Maxwell. Thanks to fast-acting actions from staff, the soon-to-be-complete club were able to leverage innovative irrigation and use mobile water trucks to control the fire. However, the fire has burned more than 71,000 acres.

David McLay Kidd — known for his work at Bandon Dunes, among other sites — and his crew broke ground on the project back in 2022. The site is in the southern reaches of the Sandhills, more than an hour south of several top courses such as Sand Hills Golf Club (Golfweek’s Best No. 1 Modern Course in the U.S.) or Prairie Club (with the Dunes, the No. 1 public-access layout in Nebraska).

GrayBull’s unique underground decoder-based irrigation system played a crucial role in safeguarding the club during the wildfire threat. The system, designed as a preventive measure against such emergencies, enabled the effective control and mitigation of the fire, showcasing the foresight in GrayBull’s infrastructure planning.

This approach was pivotal in protecting the course and minimizing damage. Alongside the irrigation system, an onsite water truck utilized approximately 45,000 gallons of water to protect structures and put out hot spots. 

“We want to thank Michael Sheely, Director of Agronomy, the GrayBull team, and Ben Boehm, volunteer firefighter and Sampson Construction team member, for their prompt response to the wildfire,” Zach Peed, President of Dormie Network, said in a release. “Their swift actions protected GrayBull and prevented any injuries as a result.”

Although the fire burned around the course and all the way up to the edge of the fairways, the course remained untouched. An inspection has been done on all construction, facilities and structures, but there has been only minimal damage to greens tarps, drainage pipes and construction materials.

After 8 p.m. Monday, when GrayBull was safely secured, the team drove the water truck out to support the rest of the North Platte community and leveraged a water line close to the GrayBull entrance to fill volunteer fire trucks.

In an effort to fight future wildfires, a matching donation fundraiser has been kickstarted. All funds raised up to $100,000 will be matched by Dormie Network Foundation and will help with the purchase of another fire engine for and to expand the current facilities of the Maxwell Volunteer Fire Department.

Donations can be made here.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek