How the 2016 floods impacted the Greenbrier Classic

1000-year-flood anniversary

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (WVNS) — The Greenbrier Classic became a staple to the Mountain State when it started.

It made its debut in 2010 as part of the PGA Tour, played on The Old White at the Greenbrier Resort. It was an event full of golf, music, food and friends. Director of Public Relations at the Greenbrier Resort, Cam Huffman, said those years were amazing.

“It went really well. It started fast. That first year was incredible. I think we had was had four different concerts, some great players come in. It was a great celebration for West Virginia to do something that a lot of people did not think could be done,” Huffman said.

As they were getting everything ready for the Classic in 2016, everything came to a halt as rushing water swept through Greenbrier County and across the golf courses at the Greenbrier Resort. 

“We were only a few weeks out from the tournament that week. We knew almost immediately we wouldn’t be able to have a tournament but that was kind of the last thing on our mind at that point,” Huffman said.

Nate Bryant, the Golf Course Superintendent of the Old White, said the look of the course that day was unimaginable.

“Seeing rocks in the middle of fairways, you just don’t realize how powerful that water is. Trees down, seeing mud that deep on top of greens. It kind of just blows your mind what can happen so fast. Truly in a blink of an eye,” Bryant said.

The Greenbrier Resort and the PGA Tour made the obvious decision to cancel the Classic in 2016. They had much bigger things to focus on – they had to put White Sulphur Springs back together again. 

“In the grand scheme of things, this was minor compared to what was going on all around us. We were making sure everyone was safe. We were checking on guys, ,making sure everyone was okay, trying to get ahold of people,” Bryant said. “We couldn’t find some people. They were okay, but cell phone service was spotty. We just wanted to make sure everyone was safe.”

It did not matter if you were a Greenbrier County native; everyone came together to rebuild and help out. 

“It was incredible to just to see the way the community came together to support what was going on here,” Huffman said.

After months of rebuilding, the classic came back in 2017. Unfortunately, due to the floods and the Classic later being moved to September, they lost some momentum and were not fully able to keep the hype that was typically surrounded by it. 

“When you skip a year, you kind of lose the momentum that you had been building. I think that hurt. The Pandemic hit, and we would have had to cancel this past year anyway. So that would have been twice in five years,” Huffman said. “That was sort of the start of losing some momentum, then leading to the end.”

While the Greenbrier Classic is no longer around, it was an event that brought so many people together and kept them together during some of the most trying times in Mountain State history. 

“We all look back on it as a great memory and a huge success story,” Huffman said.

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