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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Vandalism takes out power to many Sandhills region golf courses

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Many golf courses in the North Carolina Sandhills region, including Pine Needles Golf Resort, were knocked offline when vandals recently shot up two electrical transformers. Pine Needles Golf Resort photo

Like any self-respecting Purdue graduate, Dave Fruchte spent Saturday evening watching the Boilermakers football team play Michigan in the Big 10 championship game.

Before the game, ultimately won by second-ranked Michigan, was over, electricity at Fruchte's home went out.

"It just went out, it didn't even flicker," said Fruchte, who oversees Southern Pines, Mid Pines and Pine Needles in Southern Pines, North Carolina. "It was probably a good thing that I didn't get to see the end of the game."

As many as 45,000 people in the North Carolina Sandhills area haven't seen much of anything since Saturday when police say some shot up two electrical transformers owned by Duke Energy.

The outage has affected not only 10s of thousands of residential customers, but several golf courses in the area, including those managed by Fruchte as well as the multi-course Pinehurst complex.

Duke Energy has restored power to about 10 percent of its customers in the area, but says it probably will be at least Thursday before the rest of its affected customers are brought back online.

Fruchte and wife Ann have moved into a hotel to ride out the outage. He said a couple of small generators at the golf course help provide some power to the clubhouse and keep the fuel pump running for mowers and other equipment, but golfers hoping to find a golf car - and there have been a few - are out of luck.

A tournament scheduled for Tuesday has been canceled and police continue to search for those responsible. According to Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields, multiple gunshots took down two Duke Energy substations Saturday night.

Cold temperatures have Bermudagrass on area golf courses headed into dormancy, which has been a blessing, Fruchte said. 

"We had a hard freeze, so the grass is dormant," he said. "We had some rain today and we're supposed to get more tomorrow, so I think we'll be fine."

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