Distant replay: Huber on the AAC's move

In the beginning, the Atlanta Athletic Club was a downtown facility that used East Lake as its golf course. In the early stages of the 20th century, it was seen as a suburban resort, somewhere members could go for a rural breath of fresh air.

Slowly, surely, the city began to envelope that land, moving steadily northward. The interstate highway system took AAC members out of the city, distancing themselves from their golf course. As they left, vandals took over East Lake, and soon it was clear a dramatic move would be necessary.

A 614-acre piece of property bordering the Chattahoochee River was purchased in 1963 for $420,000. In 1965, members voted to sell the No. 2 course at East Lake to help finance the building of a new course to be designed by Robert Trent Jones. In May 1967, a 27-hole layout was dedicated and 224 golfers played for the first time. Nine holes were added later, and a new clubhouse was begun a year later.

East Lake itself and the downtown club were both sold and a new era began.

To give the new facility and its golf courses the proper cachet, Bobby Jones leveraged his great relationship with the U.S. Golf Association and delivered the 1976 U.S. Open to the AAC, the farthest south the USGA had ever reached.

Jones’ letter to the USGA was dated Nov. 16, 1971. He died the next month, never having received a proper answer.

Surely, however, he knew. No one said no to Bobby Jones.

Jim Huber will serve as essayist/course reporter throughout TNT’s coverage of the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club (Thursday and Friday 1-7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.–2 p.m.).