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Black Creek golf course back open after April 5 tornado
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.

Black Creek Golf Club is up and running. So to speak.

Course owner Hal Godwin said the golf course itself, which had been closed since April 5 due to the tornado which swept through the area, is now open for play.

The clubhouse and restaurant, however, are still not operational and may not be for quite some time due to claims issues with his insurance carrier, Godwin said.

The Ellabell course is the only public golf course in Bryan County and draws golfers from a wide area including Savannah, Statesboro, Claxton and Metter in addition to Bryan County.

Golfers are attracted to Black Creek by the quality conditions, a challenging but yet playable layout and cost. Greens fees, including cart, are $35 during the week and $45 Friday through Sunday and holidays.

Following the storm, the overly optimistic Godwin said his plans were to have the course reopened by early May. That, however, did not come to fruition as Godwin had to wait until Georgia Power could get service restored before he could start making plans.

In this particular situation the priority was to get residential services up and running and Godwin said that was the right thing to do.

“We’re up and running now as far as the golf course is concerned but the restaurant and club house are still closed,” Godwin said. “No repairs have been done on the club house. We are having issues with the insurance company plus there are materials shortages.

“The golf course itself is in great shape,” Godwin said. “It’s in better shape now than it was before the storm. I wasn’t able to keep my kitchen staff but kept the grounds crew. You can lose a golf course in a week and then it’ll take you three months to get it back.”

The major issue with the insurance company concerns whether to repair or demolish the clubhouse and restaurant areas and then rebuild.

It has reached the point Godwin has hired a public adjuster from the Atlanta area along with an engineer to help him in his negotiations with the insurance company and its engineers.

“I think the structure is compromised,” Godwin said. “There’s a lot of mold and water have gotten in there, too, since the storm. I would like to see it demolished.

“We’re aggressively working with them. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything until we come to an agreement on what we’re going to do.”

In the meantime, the performance and fitness center building which was separate from the clubhouse and relatively unscathed is now serving as the pro shop and there are 65 carts available.

The tornado destroyed the cart barn but Godwin said he has been able to lease carts. He has new carts ordered but they will not be delivered until the end of the year.

Black Creek is a course which is player friendly to all skill levels and offers contrasting nines: the front nine has a wide-open links style layout while the back nine is characterized by tree-lined narrow fairways. The course winds it way through coastal marshes and wetlands which come into play on 13 holes.

“It doesn’t beat you up,” Godwin said. “It’s not so long but it’s tight and challenging.”

The course offers five sets of tees on each hole and overall length ranges from 6,302 yards from the blue tees to 4,553 for the red.

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