ELLABELL — The blocking rule was abolished in golf in the mid-20th century. Don’t try to tell Hal Godwin that.
Stymied is where he finds himself as he tries to keep his golf course running at full throttle.
In Godwin’s case, it is not another player’s ball that is blocking his path on the green but rather his belayer.
Consequences of the tornado:‘It’s hard. But there are worse people than us’: Black Creek Golf Club to reopen in May
The golf course is fully operational, but it’s only part of what Godwin and his wife Shannon have built since buying the property from OC Welch in November 2017. There’s also a full-service restaurant. which served as a gathering point for the North Bryan Community.
The clubhouse and restaurant are still closed and may be closed for some time due to insurance claim issues regarding the repair or reconstruction of the heavily damaged building.
The course is the only public golf course in Bryan County and attracts golfers from a wide area including Savannah and Chatham County, Statesboro, Claxton and Metter in addition to Bryan County.
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Non-golfers have also flocked to Black Creek due to the on-site restaurant, named Bogeys.
Golfers could grab a good burger and a cold drink after a game, but it was also a place where business people gathered for lunch and where couples and families could dine in the evening.
“We were always packed on Fridays and Saturdays,” Godwin said. “We offered good food in a pleasant atmosphere at reasonable prices. Pretty much anyone could afford to eat here. People probably miss the restaurant as much as the golf course.”
Tornado aftermath presents challenges
Round trips with the insurer are in progress. Godwin wants to tear down the structures and rebuild while the insurance company wants him to make repairs.
“I hired a structural engineer and he recommended tearing it down,” Godwin said. “What worries me is that there is structural damage and it has been going on for so long that we now have mold and water damage with the rain we had this summer.
The delay also had other consequences. Godwin said he had to lay off his kitchen staff to keep the golf course team on the payroll.
“You can lose a golf course in a week,” Godwin said. “If that happens, it will take you three months to recover it. We had to rebuild the No 12 and No 13 greens but any other damage to the course was repaired quite easily.
The golf course currently operates out of a makeshift pro shop. The tornado destroyed the wagon barn, but Godwin said he was able to rent wagons and new wagons were ordered with a year-end delivery date. The building housing the maintenance equipment was not damaged.
The Godwins also struggle with the absence of their home, one of many heavily damaged by the April tornado.
“I live about 300 yards from the course,” Godwin said. “We were in a motel for three weeks before moving into a rental house. Our house is packed but because of the lack of material and the search for a contractor to do the work. It will be at least February before we can get back to it.