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Capital City Country Club begins tornado damage assessment

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Hudson Swafford's love of golf began as a youth at Capital City Country Club.

Swafford, a pro with LIV Golf who has played on the PGA Tour since 2014, said Monday it was “truly devastating” to see photos of the damage to the historic course after Friday's severe storms.

“A place where I tried to avoid the pines as a kid was hit hard,” said Swafford, who played golf at Maclay University and the University of Georgia. “But this iconic Tallahassee landmark will come back stronger.”

The club's natural terrain was dramatically altered by two tornadoes that swirled over Tallahassee and converged on the club, with winds between 111 and 135 miles per hour.

The tornadoes downed “hundreds of hundreds” of trees and also damaged the clubhouse, pro shop, tennis courts and pool.

From the course's driving range, the sixth green and seventh tee can now be seen – both elevated sections were previously surrounded and obscured by tall trees that have been snapped, shredded or felled.

“If you look at the damage, it (the tornado) must have been huge and incredibly large,” club CEO Evan Neihaus said Monday.

“From the path, it looks like they converged right above us and left the back of our property, near holes six, seven and eight.”

Capital City Country Club begins tornado cleanup efforts

Neihaus stressed safety was the top priority since power had not been restored to the club on Monday and urged members and others to stay away from the premises.

Neihaus said management documented damage to the golf course and property and took more than a thousand photos and aerial videos from three drones.

Staff have also begun cleanup, removing debris from the “most sensitive grass” on the greens and tees.

Next up are the fairways, and Neihaus said the club has contracted with Miller's Tree Service, which scheduled a tournament at the course last Friday, to clean up fallen and damaged trees.

“We will then be able to see what the new look of the course will look like,” said Neihaus.

In 2021, Capital City Country Club was named the best golf course in Tallahassee and the 13th best golf course in the state of Florida by Golfweek and USA Today.

The 18-hole, 6,502 yard (par 72) course is known for its elevation and challenging layout. The semi-private club is home to many golfers who have been members for decades.

“It'll be interesting to see the new look when it's cleaned up,” said Swafford, who lives in Sea Island, Georgia, with his wife and their three young children.

“It will look a little different and play a little different, but the air circulation could be better for the course. They might also be able to add haircuts in places they never could have done. Hopefully something good comes out of it.”

Anna Harden

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