Nearly 90 years ago, bullet fragments from the Civil War’s Battle of Atlanta were being sawed out of timber as crews made way for Bobby Jones Golf Course.
When the course opened a few years later, wildly influential Atlanta golfer Bobby Jones was the first to drive a ball on his namesake 18-hole links. Now, after a yearlong multi-million renovation that changed the property completely, the storied course is poised to present itself to a new generation.
The facility is slated to re-open Nov. 5 as a reversible course with double greens, seven tees for each hole and high-tech indoor bays. The nine-hole layouts, dubbed Azalea and Magnolia, can each be played twice for 18 holes in one direction.
Marty Elgison, president of the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation — a nonprofit formed by group of private citizens to renovate the “obsolete, dangerous golf course” — said not “a blade of grass” remains from the pre-renovation days. There were about five holes where players could get whacked by an errant ball on the cramped course, he said, partially because golfers can hit farther than they could in the 1930s.
Thus, the need for a reversible nine-hole design instead of 18 holes.
Players will ride around in Shark Experience golf carts, futuristic vehicles capable of streaming music and live TV, showing digital scorecards and connecting to Bluetooth. Prices for the public Buckhead course will range from about $45 to $85, varying based on factors such as day, time, weather and demand.
The redevelopment includes a new driving range, an indoor instructional building and a man-made 5.5-million-gallon lake that serves as the course’s irrigation source that no longer has to tap into the city’s water. It also includes a short game practice area and a 6-hole short course named the Cupp Links in honor of Bob Cupp, whose design of the course was his final one before his death in 2016.
The Cupp Links are intended for those 12 and under as a way to get junior golfers into the game. The Foundation has also partnered with youth organizations, such as the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, to make the sport accessible for underprivileged children.
The Shepherd Center, a local nonprofit hospital that provides medical care and rehab for patients with neuromuscular limitations, is collaborating with the Foundation and the Georgia State Golf Association to create a program for golfers with impairments. The fairways-only course will also be home to the Georgia State University women’s and men’s golf teams, with an instructional center and practice area to be used by golf teams during the school year and for junior golf clinics and lessons during the summer.
The second phase of the project will include the Murray Golf House, which will include the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. That facility is scheduled to open in fall 2019.
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