Golf courses in Bluffton suffered varying degrees of damage from Hurricane Matthew due to water and wind, according to golf professionals and greens superintendents.
All the golf courses have worked feverishly to clear debris from the storm. Each of the courses felt an urgency to reopen, since the month of October is the most important month of the fall golf season.
Losing the revenue from the fall season will critically affect the bottom line for these courses.
Evacuation began Oct. 5, and the courses didn’t start re-opening until Oct. 14, thus losing a minimum of 10 days of revenue.
Opening early were Pinecrest Golf Club and Island West, which lost a minimal amount of trees.
Pinecrest lost approximately 40 trees, with none making a difference in the playing of the course. Island West had very little damage, and the course is in great shape.
Rose Hill Golf Club, however, had a significant amount of damage, with 93 trees down and their cart barn flooded.
The flood caused motor damage to 24 carts, creating a serious problem.
Fortunately, they were able to borrow carts from another Brown Golf course on the island that was damaged and is currently closed.
Luckily the fairways, greens and tees didn’t have much damage, but getting around the fallen trees has been difficult.
As you can see from the photograph with this article, many of the trees down were uprooted and still attached at their root structure. These trees required more time to be removed than than those that cracked and fell down.
Old South was spared any significant damage to the course, with only 10 trees down. Their own staff was able to take care of getting everything back to normal.
They were able to open on the Friday after the storm.
Sun City saw some damage to all three courses, with Okatie Creek having severe flooding and 60 trees down.
Hidden Cypress had only 20 trees down on the course.
One of the downed trees was well received by golfers. The large tree down on the right side of the fairway on Hole 10 opened the hole up and made it an easier hole to play.
Now that a month has passed and the golf courses in Bluffton are all open for play, spirits are up.
When I spoke to one director of golf, he said that play has increased considerably because most of the courses on the island are still closed.
This rise in play has made up for much of the revenue lost early in October.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at Brown Golf Management courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris @gmail.com; www.golfdoctorjean.com