Atlanta to consider land swap involving Bobby Jones Golf Course

An Atlanta City Council committee next week will hold the first hearing on proposed land swap that would send ownership of Bobby Jones Golf Course to the state in exchange for a parking deck.

The long-rumored deal would allow the city to sell Underground Atlanta to a developer that wants to build a live-work-play community.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told Channel 2 Action News that the state would invest between $20-50 million in the course and keep it open to the public. That investment, the mayor said, would include building a driving range.

Tony Smith, president of Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Course, said the driving range would necessitate conversion of the course to nine holes from 18 holes, which he considers a bad move. Smith said he is also concerned about the significant loss of trees during the conversion.

“I question whether that would attract golfer interest,” Smith said of the nine-hole course. “People are not going to drive from Savannah to come play nine holes. It’s a major concern.”

The legislation, introduced Monday by Councilman C.T. Martin, will be considered May 25 by the council’s Finance Committee.

Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean, whose district encompasses the golf course, said Tuesday that she has asked that there be at least one public hearing on the issue. Reed told Channel 2 that the transaction could be completed in “10-20 days.”

“Should this transaction go through, I am insistent that there be a conservation easement so that if the state ends up owning it, this land is protected through an easement to be used solely for recreation or golf,” Adrean said. “With regard to the golf course, the community seems to be split 50-50 — some people are excited about a shorter game and the prospects of having a driving range, and some what it to stay exactly as it is.

“One of (the state’s) goals is to have a place for the Georgia State golfers to practice, which means a driving range.”