Owners hope Black Creek Golf Course can reopen next month

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The tornado that struck the Pembroke and Ellabell areas last Tuesday turned the lives of many people upside down. For Hal and Shannon Godwin, it was a double whammy.

“We lost our home and our business,” Shannon said last Saturday in the clubhouse dining room at Black Creek Golf Club. “It’s hard. But there are people worse off than us.

The Godwins own the Black Creek Golf Course after purchasing it from OC Welch who owned it for several years before it deteriorated and played little. Welch closed it and was preparing to sell the land to the Catholic Church.

If that had happened, it would have meant losing what is now Bryan County’s only public golf course that attracts golfers not only from the county, but also from Chatham, Bulloch, Evans, Screven and Candler counties. Bryan County High School and Bulloch County teams train and play games here.

“We live in this community and I’ve played here,” Hal Godwin said in an interview two years ago. “It would have been terrible if this community had lost that course. Shannon and I talked about it and decided to buy it.

Once they took over the course, the Godwins invested resources to remodel the course into one of the best public courses in the region.

And it’s not just the golf course that has had a makeover. Shannon made Bogey’s what was arguably the best restaurant in North Bryan.

Now, due to the tornado, the Godwins face another major rebuilding job as the clubhouse has been badly damaged by the tornado and the cart barn with 65 cars has been destroyed. An equipment shed containing tractors and mowers suffered minimal damage.

“We didn’t lose any equipment,” Godwin said. “But 99% of carts have damage. The extent of the damage is not yet known. »

The fate of the clubhouse – parts of which are still standing – will be decided in the coming days. The options are to fix what’s left or tear down and rebuild completely.

“The adjusters came here and looked into it,” Godwin said. “They’re going to bring in structural engineers to look at it and see if what’s there is strong enough to rebuild. We will know more about what we are going to do in the next few days.

To the untrained eye, it would seem the quickest thing to do would be to tear down and rebuild, but it’s also amazing what skilled craftsmen can do when it comes to working with damaged buildings.

The house is another story. It is, said Godwin, destroyed.

“We live about 300 yards from the golf course,” Godwin said. “I have a hole in my front yard big enough for me to drive my truck through. It definitely changed the landscape in the blink of an eye.

The Godwins and their son, Nash, are currently staying at a motel in Pooler and are looking for a house to rent until they can rebuild. This could be a problem as the rental market is limited and there are many other families in the same boat.

Damage to the golf course was more limited because it was open space and much of it was out of the tornado’s path. There are still many downed trees that need to be removed.

There’s also a lot of debris in the parking lot, and the trees that lined the entrance to the clubhouse are mostly cleared. Fortunately, the houses just across the street remained unscathed.

Godwin, who works as a longshoreman, was coming home from work when the tornado hit. Shannon and Nash were returning from Sam’s Club where they had gone to get groceries.

There were five employees at the scene and while having a severe fright, they escaped unharmed.

Although the status of the clubhouse is still up in the air, Godwin had good news for area golfers who enjoy playing his course with more than reasonable green fees.

“We hope to open the golf course itself in 30 days,” Godwin said. “Our insurance company approved everything. Once we know what we’re going to have to do about the clubhouse, we can start taking offers. »

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