course restored

King and Prince Golf Course General Manager Rick Mattox looks out over the 13th hole, part of the course that was flooded during the hurricane, but has been restored along with the rest of the course.

Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News

Area golf courses are still recovering from damages caused when Hurricane Irma struck the Golden Isles earlier this month.

Rick Mattox, director of golf at King and Prince Golf Club, said 48 trees were toppled and there was a lot of debris to clean up, but it could have been worse.

The course reopened Sept. 22, after being closed for nearly two weeks and is in great shape, Mattox said.

“Our course came out of it OK,” he said. “People who don’t live here wouldn’t notice (the course had been damaged).”

Hurricane Matthew created more damage to the course when it struck the region a year ago, but the recovery was easier this year because last year’s experience helped prepare crews maintaining the course respond to the cleanup this time around, he said.

“We were fortunate to have the experience,” he said “We had a lot more confidence knowing what to do.”

The recovery took longer on Jekyll Island’s courses, where the storm knocked over an estimated 450 trees, said Kevin Tuerff, assistant golf pro. Most of the fallen trees were pines, but a number of mature live oaks were also toppled by the storm.

Tuerff said Irma caused a little more damage than last year’s hurricane, but most of the cleanup involved picking up debris. The clubhouse and other facilities fared well, he said.

While last year’s experience helped with the recovery this time, Tuerff said there is “no real way” to prepare a golf course for a hurricane.

All of the Jekyll courses are open, with the exception of the Oleander course, which is scheduled to reopen sometime this week.

Dan Hogan, general manager and head golf professional at Brunswick Country Club, said the course was closed 11 days because of the storm.

“There was so much debris and branches,” he said.

He lost about 50 trees at the course, but most of them fell beyond the tree line. One fallen tree caused minor damage on the green at hole No. 14.

The only visible scars from the storm are piles of logs off the course that crews are still working to remove.

“It’ll probably take us until the end of December to have everything cleaned up,” he said.

Playing conditions at the country club are terrific and it’s business as usual at the course.

“The golf course is in excellent shape,” he said. “We’re very fortunate.”