By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Owners hopeful Black Creek Golf Course can reopen next month
The fate of the clubhouse – portions of it are still standing – will be decided in the next few days
Black Creek Golf Course pro shop after the tornado
Black Creek Golf Course pro shop after the tornado. Although the golf course is now open, the pro shop remains closed. Photo by Mike Brown.
Shannon and Hal Godwin
Shannon and Hal Godwin at Black Creek Golf Course. Photo by Mike Brown.

The tornado which hit the Pembroke and Ellabell areas last Tuesday left many people’s lives in disarray. For Hal and Shannon Godwin it was a double whammy.

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

The Godwins own the Black Creek Golf Course having purchased it from O.C. Welch who had owned it for several years before it went into disrepair and was getting little play. Welch shut it down and was preparing to sell the land to the Catholic church.

Had that happened it would have meant losing what is now the only public golf course in Bryan County which draws golfers from not only the county but also from Chatham, Bulloch, Evans, Screven and Candler counties. Bryan County High School and teams from Bulloch County practice and play matches there.

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

Once they took over the course the Godwins poured resources into reshaping the course into one of the finer public courses in the area.

And it was not only the golf course which got a makeover. Shannon developed Bogey’s into what was arguably the best restaurant in north Bryan.

Now because of the tornado the Godwins face another major rebuilding job as the clubhouse was heavily damaged by the tornado and the cart barn with 65 cars in it was destroyed. An equipment shed with tractors and mowers in it had minimal damage.

“We didn’t lose any equipment,” Godwin said. “But 99 percent of the carts have some damage. We don’t know the extent of the damage yet.”

The fate of the clubhouse – portions of it are still standing – will be decided in the next few days. The options are to repair what remains or demolish and rebuild completely.

“The insurance claims adjusters have been here and looked at it,” Godwin said. “They’re going to bring in structural engineers to look at it and see if what’s there is sound enough to rebuild. We’ll know more about what we’re going do in the next several days.”

To the untrained eye it would appear the most expeditious thing to do would be to demolish 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, Godwin said, destroyed.

“We live about 300 yards from the golf course,” Godwin said. “I’ve got a hole in my front yard big enough that I could drive my truck into it. It definitely changed the landscape in a hurry.”

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

The damage to the golf course was more limited thanks to it being open space and much of it not in the tornado’s path. Still there are a lot of downed trees which need to be removed.

There is also a great deal of the debris on the parking lot and trees which lined the entrance to the clubhouse are for the most part obliterated. Fortunately, houses just across the street remained unscathed.

Godwin, who works as a longshoreman, was on his way home from work when the twister struck. Shannon and Nash were on their way home from Sam’s Club where they had gone to pick up supplies.

There were five employees on the premises and while getting a severe scare they escaped uninjured.

While the status of the clubhouse is still up in the air Godwin did have good news for area golfers who enjoy playing his course with more than reasonable greens fees.

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

Hal Godwin and Insurance Adjuster enter damaged clubhouse
Hal Godwin and insurance adjuster enter damaged clubhouse. Photo by Mike Brown.
Sign up for our E-Newsletters