Massive construction continues at the Bobby Jones Golf Course which connects the Haynes Manor and Collier Hills neighborhoods in Buckhead. Bulldozers and backhoes rumble across the sprawling property, kicking up dust and busily moving from one end of the lot to the other. Tall trees dot the now barren grounds, and a tepid lake reflects the hot sun back towards the sky. Beyond, the city gleams with promise.
The Bobby Jones Golf Course is slowly coming back to life. Initially built in 1932 to honor the late Bobby Jones, a golf legend and Atlanta native, over the years some of the features such as the grand clubhouse had fallen into a state of disrepair. It is thanks to the devotion and vision of Marty Elgison, the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation President and longtime attorney for the Jones family that the site is currently undergoing unprecedented construction.
Recently, we stopped by and got a bird’s eye look at the progress, check it out in this clip below:
Elgison is reluctant to label this change a ‘renovation’ as the end result will be, really, an altogether new golf course. It was when speaking with world-renowned local architect Bob Cupp who volunteered his services for the redesign that Elgison began thinking about a revamp much larger than his initial plans to simply renovate the clubhouse.
The iconic Bobby Jones Golf Course is part of Buckhead’s 128-acre Memorial Park, and is a focal point and meeting place for many residents in the neighborhood. After signing a 50-year lease with the Georgia Building Authority last year, and thanks to a rather unusual decision to trade the course to the state of Georgia in exchange for a state-owned parking garage and plaza at Underground Atlanta, the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation was able to begin implementing site-wide changes.
The organization has raised over $23 million to redevelop the course and surrounding property which will feature a unique reversible 9-hole course that can be played twice (for 18 holes total) with 7 sets of tees, large double greens with two holes cut in each green daily. Some days the course will play through from one direction, while others it will reverse. The two directions are known as Azalea and Magnolia courses, and this design feature allows for a maximization of available space to accommodate additional elements such as a brand new Murray Golf House Clubhouse, a “wee-links” course called Cupp Links for junior and adaptive golfers, tennis courts, driving range, and a 10th Hole Grill and Pro Shop. The B.J. and Jack Bandy Instructional Center’s three-bay building will be equipped with the ultimate in golf ball tracking software and technology, allowing PGA instructors to provide detailed feedback to the players.
Not content to only improve the golf course for professional golfers, the Foundation has made a point of ensuring that the Cupp Links, instruction center, and driving range will be accessible for adaptive golfers with special tees and paths to make the sport enjoyable for everyone of all skills and abilities. The Foundation is also collaborating with the Georgia State Golf Association and the Georgia Section of the PGA of America to provide permanent homes for each organization in the Murray Golf House alongside a brand new Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. Additionally, the Georgia State Golf Association’s adaptive golf program and a partnership with the Shepherd Center will ensure that kids and those with impairments will be able to enjoy the course as well.
While there have been concerns raised by environmentalists as to the impact of the course’s design when it comes to old growth trees and Tanyard Creek which runs through the property, the Foundation has been working with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper to come to a compromise that will be effective for golfers while also conscientious about the impact of these renovations on local waterways. The Foundation has allotted more than $1.2 million on erosion control measures which include significant landscaping and tree planting throughout the property. For more information about the environmental impact of this project, check out their official statement on their website. The Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation has also been developing a system of trails and paths in cooperation with the City of Atlanta and PATH Foundation connecting and surrounding the course.
The (still) public course will utilize the Longleaf Tee System which is a new approach that offers up to seven gender neutral set of tees and allows the players to design their desired course – and its length – as they are playing. Partnerships with the Metro Atlanta YMCA, the WYCA, Boys & Girls Club, and U.S. Kids Golf aim to keep the course accessible and affordable for players, and the Foundation is aiming to collaborate with City of Refuge and Westside Works to match local residents with employment opportunities. At the time of this article’s publication Elgison says the Foundation is still on track for opening their tennis courts in late summer and the new course sometime after that this fall, but weather and other unforeseen circumstances may alter their official dates which have not yet been announced.