ORLANDO – Tropical Storm Nicole, which is expected to become a hurricane before making landfall somewhere Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning in South Florida, threatens to bring high winds and potentially damaging heavy rain to hundreds, if not thousands , golf courses along the east coast of the US

The storm was over the Bahamas Wednesday morning with sustained winds of 70 mph, according to the 10 a.m. report from the National Hurricane Center. It was expected to reach the United States somewhere just north of West Palm Beach, near the golfing hotspot of Jupiter, home to many golf professionals. The storm is then expected to cross Florida to an area just north of Tampa and into the Gulf of Mexico before curving northeast into Georgia.

The storm’s projected track is likely to change slightly, as most tropical systems do, making it difficult to predict exactly which specific areas will be heavily impacted. And while most of the attention is – and should be – focused on any potential human tolls and the threat of general property damage, there will certainly be impacts on a Florida golf industry that has already suffered greatly from the Hurricane Ian in September.

National Hurricane Center projections Wednesday at 10 a.m. on the path of Tropical Storm Nicole, which is expected to become a hurricane before hitting Florida on November 9 or 10 (Courtesy National Hurricane Center)

As Ian blasted Fort Myers and the southern Gulf Coast of Florida before crossing the state heading northeast, Nicole threatens to head northwest, crossing Ian’s path somewhere to the south. from Orlando. Although the greatest damage to golf courses is likely to be close to landfall, there is a serious threat where this week’s storm crosses Ian’s trail, creating an “X marks the spot” forbidden to flooding, tree damage and temporary closures in the center of the state.

In all, there are over 1,200 courses in Florida. With the exception of those in the Northwest Panhandle, few Florida course operators will escape some level of impact – ranging from a simple loss of tee time sales to catastrophic damage – from of Ian or Nicole. Due to the large number of courses in Florida, more than 1 in 12 courses across the United States was impacted at Ian alone.

Florida has hundreds of golf courses along Nicole’s planned course. Among Golfweek’s top ranking of the best public-access courses in Florida, the impact of the storm could impact the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens and its Champion Course No. 8 (site of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic every year) as well as the other routes of the resort; PGA 14 Golf Clube-Rated Wanamaker Course and 21st-Rated dyeing class in Port St. Lucie; Blue Monster by Trump National Doral Miami (No. 15); the Turnberry Isle Soffer Course (#16) at Aventura; possibly the Crandon Park waterfront (#19) in Key Biscayne; and the Rees Jones layout of The Breakers (No. 22) in West Palm Beach.

Among the top-ranked private courses in Florida near the projected landfall are Seminole #1 at Juno Beach; No. 4 John’s Island Club’s West Course in Vero Beach; No. 5 Indian Creek in Miami Beach; No. 6 The Bear’s Club at Jupiter; No. 9 McArthur at Hobe Sound; No. 10 Loblolly in Hobe Sound; Medalist No. 12 in Hobe Sound; Pine No. 13 at Boynton Beach; No. 14 Trump International in West Palm Beach; No. 16 High Ridge in Lantana; and Florida’s No. 19 Country Club in Village of Golf. These are just the courses ranked in Florida’s top 20 private clubs – there are dozens of other private courses near the planned landing.

Golf carts at Dunes Golf & Tennis Club on Sanibel Island caught fire on Sunday, October 16, 2022, several weeks after Hurricane Ian struck. The Dunes suffered significant damage when Ian slammed into Southwest Florida on September 28. (Photo by Mike Dopslaff/Special to USA Today Network)

As Nicole crosses the Florida peninsula, the projected path takes her just past Streamsong Resort, home to three highly ranked courses. As Nicole nears Tampa, she’s likely to halt play in this week’s Pelican Women’s LPGA Championship at the private Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, near the coast west of Tampa. Just down the street from Pelican is the Belleair Country Club, where major restoration is underway on the Donald Ross designed West Course. Further north of Tampa, work is underway to renovate the two courses at World Woods, which was recently renamed Cabot Citrus Farms.

The effects of the storm have already been felt with squalls Wednesday morning north of the forecast track near Orlando, where some courses are still recovering from massive Ian rains. Some courses in this area are still repairing faded bunkers and haven’t fully dried out more than a month after Ian passed not far to the south.

Anyone with golf trip plans this week in Florida should check with their airline to see if any cancellations are in effect, as several Sunshine State airports closed or will close on Wednesday, with potential reopenings yet to be determined. Orlando International Airport announced it would close at 4 p.m. Wednesday, and several regional airports in central Florida also announced closures. Palm Beach County Airport in South Florida also announced a closure Wednesday morning. Further closures and extended delays are likely in the state.

As Nicole turns north after passing Tampa, her projected path of nearly 1,000 miles will take her over central Georgia between Atlanta and Augusta, then into South Carolina and north along the Appalachians through North Carolina, Virginia, past Washington DC and towards New York before returning to the Atlantic Ocean. With heavy rain likely and severe flooding possible, this projected path will hamper operations and possibly cause damage to over a thousand golf courses along the way.

Even for golf courses that do not experience severe flood damage, many developments in year-round golf environments have already begun winterizing efforts, such as spreading ryegrass that could be washed away by heavy rains. The results potentially include reseeding costs and a slowdown in seasonal turf conditioning.

In Florida, the most likely damage will be downed trees and flooding. Many courses along Nicole’s projected path are already suffering from saturated ground in Ian’s wake, making it even more likely that tree root systems are weakened and trees could fall. Not even counting the dozens of courses that suffered Ian’s worst damage near Fort Myers, many more are still working to repair bunkers that were destroyed by more than a foot of rain in 24 hours – several courses just south of Orlando still have standing water along Ian’s fairways.

Most course superintendents along the planned course will spend Wednesday and Thursday preparing their courses for rain and wind, moving loose items and even removing signage. But there’s not much to do – it’s impossible to board an entire golf course. The days leading up to a hurricane or tropical storm in Florida are always an uncomfortable time of scrambling, waiting, watching weather reports, and hoping for the best.

The story originally appeared on GolfWeek