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Posted: July 27, 2017 11:49 a.m.
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Hunter Golf Course survives, thrives after hurricane arrives

Just keep swinging

Photo by Staff Sgt. Kellen Stuart/

A golfer strolls down the fairway past one of the many trees that were knocked down by winds from Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 7. More than 200 trees were knocked down and will be recycled as fuel to help power Fort Stewart.

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On Oct. 7, Hurricane Matthew hit the Hunter Golf Club. Matthew left a path of destruction from the Caribbean all the way through North Carolina. Many courses in the greater Savannah area were closed due to storm damage.

Upon seeing the damage created by the hurricane, Tommie McArthur, head golf professional/manager at Hunter Golf Club, knew he had his work cut out for him.

“At first I was shocked and overwhelmed,” McArthur said. “Our goal quickly became to get the golf course open as soon as possible.”

The job that lay ahead for the team at the Hunter Golf Club was huge.

“The first morning after Hurricane Matthew hit Savannah we had about 200 downed trees just on the golf course,”  said Lt. Col. Kenneth M. Dwyer,  garrison commander, Hunter Army Airfield. “The garrison leadership began recovery at first light, first to clear the roads into Hunter.  There were approximately 40 downed trees blocking the South Perimeter and Rio Road.”

The golf course staff immediately rented heavy equipment and with the help of many volunteers, trees were cleared from the fairways to prevent further damage. 

It was no small feat. Several volunteers helped to get the trees and debris moved off the fairways and into the tree line. Without the help of the volunteers, the course could not have gotten back to a playable condition so quickly.

A week after the hurricane hit, Hunter Golf Course was the first course in the area to re-open for play.

Almost a year later, thanks to Mother Nature providing plenty of precipitation and continuing efforts to clear the downed trees and debris, the course is in excellent condition. Some say the best condition it has been in a long time.

78-year-old Robin Christy has been playing Hunter Golf Course since the late 1950’s. Back then it was a nine-hole course. He has seen it grow to 18 holes and become one of the area’s most challenging courses.

“The course is in fantastic shape,” Christy said. “The guys here are doing a great job.”

While many trees still remain in the wood line they won’t be there forever. The garrison commander has a plan. One that will clear the debris while utilizing the downed trees.

“When funding and time allows the installation plans to harvest the downed trees to use in their "Chip-n-Haul" program.  The chipped bio mass can then be used as fuel to help power Fort Stewart,” Dwyer said.

Tom Curran said he has been playing the course regularly since 2005.

“This is the best shape this course has ever been in that I know of,” Curran said. “Tommie and the boys and all the volunteers that work out here all deserve a great big hooah.”

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