This Florida golf course was devastated by tornadoes: ‘How bad you may think it was, it was worse’

TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Evan Neihaus had no idea what he was about to see when he arrived at Capital City Country Club.

It had taken Neihaus – the club’s general manager – three hours to drive 18 miles from his Crawfordville home to Tallahassee following the fierce storms that roared through the area early Friday morning and left extensive damage in its wake.

Since the entry to the club was impassable due to debris and fallen trees, Neihaus had to park off Magnolia Drive and walk to the club.

“How bad you may think it was, it was worse,” Neihaus said.

“The damage was incredible.”

More: Golfweek’s Best top public and private courses in Florida

Historic Capital City Country Club suffers significant damage from storms

Nestled among the pines and Spanish Oaks of the Myers Park District, the historic club of 100-plus years was significantly damaged by the storms.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee Saturday confirmed at least two EF-2 tornadoes with winds between 111-135 mph and 100-mph straight-line winds struck Tallahassee.

NWS survey crews were scheduled Sunday to determine whether a third tornado hit southern Leon County.

Neihaus said “hundreds and hundreds” of trees along the course were downed, snapped or shredded by the winds. The clubhouse, pro shop, Olympic-sized swimming pool and five tennis courts were also damaged.

Capital City Golf Club suffered significant damage from Friday’s storms, May 12, 2024. (Photo provided by Jay Revell)

The aftermath left many heartbroken.

“It really hurts to see a place you love get so damaged,” member Jay Revell said.

“It was a scary morning for our family and many others in Tallahassee. After we surveyed our home and the neighborhood, we went to see how the club faired.

“It was stunning to see the wind damage.”

Capital City Country Club maintenance workers on course

Seven golf course maintenance staff members were on the course early Friday morning, with two mowers arriving at 4:30 a.m. and others at 5:30 a.m.

A tournament – hosted by, ironically, Miller’s Tree Service – was scheduled for the course Friday afternoon.

Cameron Dowden was on the course at hole No. 13 when management alerted him to inform the staff to return to the maintenance shop due to approaching weather.

One maintenance worker sought shelter on the course as the storm unleashed its fury.

“It started to rain, but then it took a turn for the worse really, really fast,” said Dowden, who ran for cover and wedged into his small truck with three co-workers.

“All of a sudden, the wind picked up and you could hear trees snapping at the top. That was scarier than the rain or wind.”

In 2021, Golfweek ranked Capital City Country Club as the best golf course in Tallahassee and the 13th-best course in the state of Florida.

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

The club also featured two large banquet rooms, driving range, practice putting greens, a fitness center and Pro Shop.

In an email Friday, Club President Blake Hayward informed membership the club and the golf course will be closed indefinitely. He also assured members the plan is to reopen as soon as possible.

“It has so much history,” said member Jim Marshall, a former golfer at Michigan.

“I think it’s a great layout that I never get tired of playing. The greens superintendent has done a great job getting the course in really good shape – especially the greens.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek