WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Greenbrier, under the auspices of the Greenbrier Hotel Corporation, Justice Family Group, LLC and "other entities," has filed suit against several insurance companies and brokers over underpayment related to the floods that ravaged the area in 2016, resulting in the loss of more than 20 lives and extensive damage to southeastern West Virginia.
"The Greenbrier entities and the Justice Family, which owns the Greenbrier Hotel and related properties, spent nearly three years attempting to amicably deal with representatives of the various insurers in an ongoing effort to fully and finally resolve all claims and to receive compensation for the significant losses incurred, for which substantial insurance premiums were paid to the various insurers," resort officials wrote in a statement. "After years of delay on the part of the insurer group, the patience of The Greenbrier entities and the Justice Family finally came to an end, resulting in the lawsuit."
Among the victims of the flood were several Greenbrier employees, who lost homes and loved ones. Their livelihoods were threatened as well - lost business at the resort meant a halt to their potential income.
In the aftermath of the flood, resort owner - now governor of West Virginia - Jim Justice and his family worked at breakneck pace to get things back up and running, including the Old White TPC Course, which hosted the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic. The floods forced the cancellation of the 2016 event due to damage throughout the resort's golf facility.
Thanks to the efforts of the Justices as well as Greenbrier golf superintendent Kelly Shumate and others, the Old White TPC rounded into shape to host the 2017 Greenbrier Classic. Additionally, Shumate redesigned and rerouted the resort's Meadows Course, bringing the complement of golf back up to 36 holes for resort guests. The private Snead Course is also back up and running for its members, and a new nine-hole par-3 Ashford Short Course debuted in August 2018.
The future is less certain for the resort's Greenbrier Course. Several of its holes were incorporated into the new Meadows routing, and while there have been plans to reconfigure it in accordance with its Seth Raynor design pedigree (including by Phil Mickelson's design team), that project has yet to begin. Presumably the unpaid insurance claims over which the resort is suing will contribute to this effort, as well as the long-planned new Oakhurst Course, a private golf course co-designed by Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and the late Arnold Palmer.
I had the chance to spend a couple days at The Greenbrier last summer, and was impressed at the extent of the resort's recovery. One would never guess that the Old White TPC had had to be pieced back together after the floods. The Meadows Course routing is a bit spread-out due to a couple lengthy green-to-next-tee transitions, but Shumate clearly put considerable effort into making it into a cohesive golf experience, and he succeeded. With the requisite resources, a revamped Greenbrier Course would bring the resort's golf complement to a peak of 63 holes, reestablishing it as one of the country's most comprehensive stay-and-play possibilities. As it is now, though, it's plenty engaging.
In addition to proper remuneration, the lawsuit seeks to "make an example of the insurers so that the heavy-handed, mean-spirited and egregious conduct to which The Greenbrier entities were exposed will no longer be imposed upon others who have paid good money to insurance companies to cover losses when they occur."