The Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy's proposed renovation of Bobby Jones Golf Course would reduce it to nine holes from 18 holes.
The Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy’s proposed renovation of Bobby Jones Golf Course would reduce it to nine holes from 18 holes.

This morning, The Georgia Trust released its 2016 Places in Peril list, which included the Bobby Jones Golf Course at Atlanta Memorial Park in Buckhead. The Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy has released a statement stating it does not agree with the intent of the designation. You can read AMPC’s full statement below:

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, at its annual Places in Peril reception this evening, will be announcing that the Bobby Jones Golf Course and Clubhouse made the 2016 list.

While the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy (AMPC) appreciates The Georgia Trust for bringing attention to the declining condition of the golf course and clubhouse and agrees both are in peril and in need of renovation, it does not agree with the intent of the designation made by the applicant, the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Course (FoBJGC), who wish “to generate sufficient public opposition so as to deter the Atlanta Park and Recreation Commissioner from altering the original 18 hole layout or making any other use of the Clubhouse” according to the application submitted by FoBJGC President, Tony Smith.

Bobby Jones Golf Course and its clubhouse are part of Atlanta Memorial Park, the City’s third largest regional park. The Park and the golf course face a challenging future if steps are not taken to make long-term, sustainable improvements. “Addressing the environmental and safety issues is a critical need. Sewage overflows last week are proof of that” said Ms. Spillman, AMPC Executive Director. “We want to see a park and golf course that is safe, and that offers recreational opportunities and world class facilities accessible to a broad demographic for all citizens to enjoy.”

Accordingly, AMPC’s draft Master Plan, currently under review with the City of Atlanta, recommends necessary improvements to address connectivity, safety and environmental issues, which are the appropriate course of action versus a do nothing approach. “Under that lens, The Georgia Trust’s recognition brings attention to the neglect and lack of necessary maintenance of this important natural resource” according to Ms. Spillman.

AMPC’s draft Master Plan process was a community effort with input from top experts in the field including landscape design firm Hughes, Good, O’Leary and Ryan, a world-renowned golf course designer (Bob Cupp), and additional professionals and firms specializing in connectivity, environmental/safety aspects, and watershed.

From its inception, preserving the legacy of Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones, Jr. has been a top priority for AMPC. Dr. Robert T. Jones IV, grandson of Bobby Jones, agrees with AMPC’s recommendations for the renovations to the course and recently shared the following with AMPC:

I know that my grandfather would be delighted to hear of the plans to renovate the Bobby Jones Golf Course. No stranger to change and innovation, Bobby Jones oversaw many changes to his beloved Augusta National Golf Club and even whole-heartedly supported the outright move of his home club, the Atlanta Athletic Club, from East Lake to its present location in Johns Creek. This renovation of Bobby Jones, with its creative design, practice facility, and “wee course,” will help make golf accessible to new generations of golfers and provide a venue that is challenging and enjoyable. The entire Jones family is proud of Atlanta’s commitment to the legacy of our grandfather and we wholly support the efforts of the Conservancy in this matter.

AMPC will continue in its mission to make Atlanta Memorial Park a beautiful, environmentally sensitive and sustainable park, accessible and connected to the neighborhoods and the City, by enhancing the Park, tennis and golf experiences through a collaborative process of renovation, restoration and preservation. AMPC acknowledges The Georgia Trust for recognizing the deteriorating condition of the golf course and clubhouse. Both are deserving of significant capital investment to ensure that the clubhouse is renovated and that the golf course is brought up to current safety standards, incorporating environmental improvements that will ensure the legacy of Bobby Jones is preserved for generations to come.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.