For the past 17 years, Mr. Mulligan has greeted members and guests visiting the Highlands clubhouse and golf course.
The chainsaw-carved statue has withstood the elements and taken some of nature?s abuse in the form of water, insect and woodpecker damage.
Noticing Mr. Mulligan?s need for repairs, Curt Stoops, a property owner and member of Friends of the Highlands, a neighborhood group that focuses on beautification and improvement projects, decided to give the village staple a much needed makeover.
The statue was cut down in mid-January with hacksaws and chainsaws. Approximately five men were needed to transport the 6-foot 4-inch statue, which weighs between 400 and 500 pounds, to Stoops? basement workshop, he said.
It wasn?t until the statue was in his basement that Stoops realized the extent of Mr. Mulligan?s damage.
Although the exterior was strong, the statue?s interior was ?soft and mushy,? which was likely caused by water entering the various openings and insect damage, Stoops said. Mr. Mulligan had a crack that extended from his neck to his belt, as well as a hole on the side and the top of his head. Stoops and Dick Beck, who assisted with repairs, used oak to fill and patch the cracks. They also reattached the statue?s toes and resoled his shoes.
?It was more work than I thought,? Stoops said. ?We used a lot of oak, Gorilla Glue and caulk.?
A huge oak tree that fell in Golf Operations Manager Andy Mar's yard provided the perfect stump to replace Mr. Mulligan?s deteriorating base. A local blacksmith produced a steel plate to attach to Mr. Mulligan?s feet, which was then attached to the stump. The blacksmith also made a new golf club shaft to replace the aging equipment of the old golfer, and Don Hunt of the Bella Vista Woodcarvers Club carved a new redwood golf club head for the statue.
The final step before returning Mr. Mulligan to his home in front of the Highlands Clubhouse, was to repaint him and add a couple of coats of UV protective polyurethane. Mr. Mulligan returned to his pedestal on March 11. Highlands Superintendent Greg Jones and Marvin Madewell, an employee and skilled tractor operator, along with Beck and property owner Bill Mungoven assisted in reinstalling the statue, Stoops said.
?It?s great to have members with the skills and desire to help us repair a Highlands? icon,? Mar said.
The Property Owners Association considered replacing Mr. Mulligan or duplicating him with a stronger, composite material; however, those options were too expensive. The repairs totaled $250 and more than 100 hours of volunteer time, Stoops said.
Mr. Mulligan was carved out of an existing oak tree in 1996 by Clayton Coss, an Oklahoma-based chainsaw artist. In 2006, the carving was repaired by Coss and placed on a new stump. The original stump was infested with termites. Stoops believes that, with proper maintenance, Mr. Mulligan will be watching over the Highlands another 10 years or more.
Golf Maintenance Manager Casey Crittenden said, in addition to repairing Mr. Mulligan, Stoops has also built sign frames and is currently working on sand buckets for the tee boxes around the Highlands Golf Course.
?Curt has been very supportive in assisting us with a number of volunteer tasks,? Crittenden said. ?We are fortunate for all he and the Friends of the Highlands do to ensure members and guests a wonderful golfing experience.?