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January 2018

City Central

Course renovation and redesign projects don’t often make national news headlines. But what’s happening in the city of Atlanta could turn out to be a model for the future. On November 1, 2017, bulldozers went to work at historic Bobby Jones Golf Club, the municipal facility that opened in 1932 as a tribute to the city’s most famous athlete. The project is not a touch-up or renovation—it’s instead a complete reimagining of what an in-town golf facility could and should be.

“We’re so thrilled to be taking the existing land where the 18-hole facility had become too cramped and, quite frankly, dangerous, and completely restructuring it,” explains Dr. Bob Jones, IV, Bobby Jones’ grandson and one of the principals that not only convinced the city to go along with the changes, but helped the foundation involved raise $23 million.

“When completed, the facility will be a world-class reversible nine-hole course, the first in the city, along with a nine-hole short course, a maintenance facility and a fantastic practice facility,” he says.

The new course was the last design of the late Bob Cupp, and the short course—nine holes ranging from 50 yards to 75 yards in length, which will be the learning center for the city’s beginners—will be called the Cupp Links.

But, again, a public course going from 18 holes to nine holes isn’t national news. The reason to pay attention to this is what the new course will house. Phase two will be the construction of a new clubhouse that will be the home of the Georgia State Golf Association (GSGA), the Georgia Section PGA, Georgia Junior Golf and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. It will be called Golf House Georgia, making Bobby Jones GC the focal point of all golf activity in the state. The course and practice facility will also be the home of Georgia State University men’s and women’s golf, with a separate clubhouse and practice tee for college players.

“Making it the nerve-center of the game in Georgia will certainly improve the profile [of the course],” Jones says. “Plus, the reversible nine will be easier [and cheaper] to maintain—more sustainable in terms of water usage and chemical applications—and we believe it will generate no loss in revenue and given the practice and teaching center, should show a revenue increase.”

“The new Bobby Jones Golf Course will be spectacular,” adds Whitney Crouse, chairman of Mosaic Clubs and Resorts, which is overseeing construction and operation of the new club. “It’s been many years since a brand-new golf course came out of the ground in Atlanta. This one will not only be remarkable when it opens next year, it’ll be the result of the support and donations from many wonderful people and companies. It’s truly a community effort to make this an enduring tribute to Mr. Jones and a golf experience everyone in Atlanta will enjoy.”

If this works, it could be a model for outdated in-town facilities around the country. At the very least, the centralization of all golf-related organizations is worth watching.

—Steve Eubanks

 

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