Naples What now stands on the side of the road may have been a pile of concrete swept away by a powerful storm surge.
Or a huge pile of debris, mostly fallen trees and limbs, some so tall that it blocks the view of the beachfront condos from the street.
Or the towering condos that face the Gulf of Mexico are still abandoned, and the residents have been replaced by construction workers and heavy equipment working to make the home livable again.
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Madeline Sugstrom, who has a home in Orlando and has lived through storms, was devastated when she drove along the coast on Tuesday to see the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian.
“Destruction of everything,” she said. “It’s amazing how localized it is. You’re here and you don’t notice anything.”
Sagstrom is part of the 60-man field at the CME Group Tour Championships at Tiburon Golf Club, the final event of the LPGA Tour season, which starts Thursday. Tiburon is located about four miles from the Gulf of Mexico and 42 miles south of where Hurricane Ian made landfall with winds of 150 miles per hour seven weeks before her.
Tiburon, which has 36 holes, including the Gold Course, which hosts this week’s event, suffered little damage other than 350-400 trees uprooted and flooding.
After the crew’s tireless efforts to cut and replant trees and restore lawns, the Gold Course reopened four days after Ian landed. After that, cleaning work began in areas other than the playground.
With that work, the LPGA ensured that this event would go ahead as planned.
“What happened here was very devastating. It’s great to see everything rebuilt and everything back to normal,” said Brooke Henderson, No. 6 in the Women’s World Golf Rankings. “Hopefully we can continue our recovery and come out stronger from all of this.”
Henderson was born and raised in Canada, but also lives in Naples. Her house survived the storm.
Kevin DeDonato, general manager of Tiburon, was relieved to see the impact the storm had on the property.
“I kind of knew what to expect,” said DeDonato. “The damage I received from Irma… 400 was shocking, but I was mostly relieved.
“What made this so unique was its length. Only hurricane winds lasted 12 hours. It felt like there was no end.”
The challenge at Tiburon was to put the finishing touches on this week’s track, which had spent a lot of time cleaning up.
“As we get closer to this time, it becomes more detailed outside the play, edging cart paths, bunkers,” DeDonato said. So I didn’t have time to prepare a lot of the details.”
LPGA Tour Commissioner Molly Marcow has entrusted it all to the world’s best women’s golfers to determine the ultimate champion of the season.
After receiving assurance that the course had weathered the storm, Marcoux began working on ways to help partners and others in the affected areas.
Ian caused about $40 billion in property damage in Florida, about $2 billion of which was in Collier County.
“We were really looking to see if there was a way to see if we could help this particular area,” said Marcow, who lives in Orlando. I support you.”
The tour donates to the Red Cross and for every limited edition CME group or LPGA Florida t-shirt purchased, $10 is donated to the Korea Relief Fund.
For golfers, part of the joy is seeing people whose lives were changed two months ago enjoying a normal two days on the golf course.
“It saddens me to think of people who have been forced from their homes,” Ally Ewing said. “I hope I can provide them with a sense of well-being for a few days,” she said.
The Swede Sugström sees this weekend as a snapshot of how sport can help you recover in times of adversity.
“I think people will love it to kind of get back to normalcy and get the community back together and go see golf,” she said. I know, but that’s kind of what sports did during COVID, it brought everyone together, and that’s what we want.”