Gary Lindeblad has been a fixture as the pro at Indian Canyon since the mid-1980s and the venerable city golf course has been home to the Rosauers Open Invitational since 1988.
Lindeblad was a driving force in creating the Rosauers, which is the richest club pro tournament in the nation. He couldn’t be prouder of the success of the event and the $5 million it has raised directly and indirectly for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
All of those things will continue in a few weeks, but for just the second time in tournament history it won’t be held at Indian Canyon.
Winter ice damaged a handful of greens and they’ve been slow to recover, forcing Lindeblad to place a phone call several weeks ago to friend and MeadowWood pro Bob Scott.
“It’s a horrific decision to have to make,” Lindeblad said. “About 10 days ago, it became a reality we had to move it. MeadowWood lends itself to where we can set everything up there.”
Lindeblad consulted with the Pacific Northwest Golf Association, course superintendents and Rosauers management. As tough as it was to move the tourney from Indian Canyon, Lindeblad was happy to find a suitable home and buoyed by the response of MeadowWood’s staff, the county and parks and recreation.
“Everyone just jumped in and helped,” he said.
Scott said the ball started rolling within hours of Lindeblad’s call, thanks to county cooperation.
“Gary is my mentor – he’s a mentor for a lot of guys – a friend and I’d do anything for him,” Scott said.
MeadowWood’s task was relocating 400 pre-booked rounds.
“Two shot-gun tournaments, some larger groups anywhere from a foursome to 16-people groups were booked in those six days,” Scott said. “We moved all of them to Liberty Lake, except maybe 3-4 foursomes to the Links (in Post Falls).
“My assistant Chris Curran did it all. He took some crap, but most people were very understanding and rightfully so some were irritated, but we’re not moving them to some inferior product. Liberty Lake is as good a public course as we have in Spokane.”
The 1991 Rosauers was moved to MeadowWood after a rough winter on Indian Canyon’s greens. The Canyon had problems a year ago and there was brief consideration of moving the tournament but the greens eventually bounced back.
Lindeblad had similar hopes this spring, but the “percentage of damage was higher.
“We’ve been on temps on those (damaged) greens, praying for a quicker recovery,” he said. “We tried permanents for a week or two but it was really clear they weren’t going to recover while we used them.”
Crews have been continuously aerifying, seeding and sanding, at times using a slit seeder.
“There’s a fair amount of germination,” Lindeblad said, “but it’s like the hair on my head. From a distance it looks OK, but when you get close and look down you see the shine there.”
Lindeblad estimated that the Canyon’s business is down roughly 50 percent. They’ve offered lower rates and cart specials, but many golfers have opted to play elsewhere.
“When someone calls for a tee time, once you tell them you have one temporary green they can’t hang up the phone fast enough,” said Lindeblad, an independent contractor. “It doesn’t take long for the word to get out in Spokane so everybody knows who is in good shape and who is not.”
Lindeblad hopes the course is on permanent greens in a few weeks, but “seven days with practice rounds and the tournament, intense days, we didn’t think it could hold up.”
MeadowWood is replacing the sand in 54 bunkers and Scott is optimistic most if not all of the green-side bunkers will be done in time for the Rosauers (pro-am July 16-17, tournament proper July 18-20).
Scott is happy to stay in the background.
“Gary is the host, he’s the face, it’s his tournament,” Scott said. “I’m sitting back and just making sure behind the scenes everything goes well. It’s the Canyon’s tournament. This is just a bump in the road and then it goes back.”