When the last few components of the Bobby Jones Golf Course opened in December, it marked the end of a three-year, $32 million redevelopment project for the Buckhead links.
Though its transformation from an 18-hole course to a nine-hole reversible one was completed in a year and the new course opened in November 2018, its facilities in the Murray Golf House weren’t finished until the end of 2020 because the funds had to be raised for it first.
“It’s been a full three years of construction, and we’ve been working on the project for almost a decade, really. It feels great,” Marty Elgison, president of the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation, which oversaw the project, said of having everything open.
The 144-acre course, located within Atlanta Memorial Park, was built in 1932 as a tribute to golf legend Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones Jr. It was sold by the city of Atlanta to the state in 2016 as part of a plan to reconfigure the course.
In Phases 1 and 2 of the project, the foundation renovated the course, created the driving range and Cupp Links and built the new parking deck and maintenance building. No public funds were used for any of the renovation or constructions costs.
The Murray Golf House, designed by architect Jim Chapman and also built with private funding, includes the Ed Hoard Golf Shop, a high-tech store that opened in August; Boone’s restaurant, which opened in September; the offices for the Georgia State Golf Association and the PGA of America’s Georgia section, which opened in November and December, respectively; and the Dan Yates Putting Course and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, which both opened in December. Just outside the front of the golf house is the Hall Hut, which also opened in December.
“It’s a starter hut where you check in for golf and for the Yates Putting Course,” Elgison said. “It has drinks, and sandwiches and beer. It’s very popular. The Yates course has been very popular. Kids under 17 play for free. It’s gotten so much play that we’ve had to close it Monday through Thursday in order to preserve the greens for the summer months.”
The U.S. Kids Golf Academy junior program and the Cupp Links children’s golf course both opened in November 2018, and the Bandy Instructional Center followed in November 2019.
“We’ve had 1,100 kids (ages 3 to 17) come through our junior program,” Elgison said.
Brian Conley, the overall course’s general manager, added, “I think the community, by nature, of getting used to the golf course before the buildings (were completed), they got a first glance of being golfer-friendly and not having barriers to the game. The junior program was one of the first things that was evident of that model. The golf experience was very much front and center for so long.”
One other piece, the course’s practice putting green, will be installed where the temporary clubhouse was.
“When the weather gets warmer and it’s time to grow grass, we’ll plant that,” Elgison said. “We hope to have that open by September of this year.”
The overall facility has already earned two awards for 2020. Jason Kuiper was named the Teacher of the Year by the Georgia section of the PGA, and the links’ driving range was named one of the Top 50 Public Facilities in the nation by the Golf Range Association of America.
The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, which features an interactive experience honoring Georgia golf legends, includes memorabilia and can house up to 60 guests for special events. Elgison said the response from the community since the golf house opened has been “extremely positive.”
“Boone’s has been very well received, and the COVID-19 restrictions have forced us to use the outside patio more than we had planned, and that has turned out to be a huge home run,” he said. “I think it’s pretty well accepted by a lot of people. The view from the patio is the best view of the city anywhere. Boone’s has done very, very well, considering the circumstances.”
Conley said though construction is complete, the course and its facilities may experience some future tweaks.
“It’s been a wild ride and it’s not close to being over,” he said. “… We want to change the mindset that golf is an elitist, very narrow, niche sport. It’s a sport for the masses and that everybody can play.”
For more information visit www.bobbyjonesgc.com.