As Bobby Jones Golf Course celebrates its 80th anniversary, a relatively young group of golf enthusiasts and nearby neighbors are laying plans to dramatically change the golf experience to make it worthy of the course’s namesake, Atlanta’s most famous golf legend.
But the master plan being worked out by the Bobby Jones Golf Course & Park Conservancy does not stop at the out-of-bounds markers on the course. They include all of Memorial Park and that means inclusion of the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center and the adjacent park across Northside Drive that most people think of as Atlanta Memorial Park.
The preliminary pass at that master plan was presented last Thursday (May 31) at the Buckhead Business Association’s Weekly Breakfast by three key representatives of the Conservancy, which was formed by five south Buckhead neighborhoods to chart a new direction for the well-known public golf course and to make Memorial Park more people friendly and useful while reducing flooding in the area.
The Conservancy’s efforts are being spearheaded by Peachtree Battle Alliance president and Neighborhood Planning Unit C vice chair Roxanne Smith who set the stage for the discussion with the 75 or so business representatives who attended the Thursday meeting.
|Roxanne Smith, vice chair of the Bobby Jones Golf Course|
& Park Conservancy addresses the BBA meeting.
She then turned the discussion over to HGOR Planning and Landscape Architecture firm principal Robert Hughes and renowned golf course designer Bob Cupp, both of whom are working pro bono with the Conservancy on the master plan.
Hughes described what was presented to the BBA as an “illustration of a concept of an idea.”
With a number of golfers in the audience, Cupp presented what likely could be the most dramatic aspect of the plan—the possibility of changing the present 18-hole golf course into a nine-hole course and a “reversible golf course” at that.
|Golf course designer Bob|
Cupp at the BBA meeting
The “reversible course” idea, which Cupp announced for the first time even to Smith and Hughes, would allow the golfer to play a nine-hole round and then either quit there or reverse it and go the other way for an 18-hold round.
"You would actually have another nine holes that are totally different,” Cupp explained. “This is not a new thing but it is a new and interesting possibility for Bobby Jones. Making it fun to play is the only thing that matters," he added.
But Cupp and Hughes also are looking at the possibility of maintaining an 18-hole golf layout, but changing the configuration of the course to make it safer, more pleasurable to play and to add a practice range and practice chipping and putting area near the clubhouse.
|The area in the foreground could become a practice range.|
Cupp, a Brookhaven resident who worked for years with Jack Nicklaus designing golf courses, said a big question that is still being studied is whether or not a course with nine holes can generate as much income as one with 18 holes. He personally feels it can, but the analysis has not been completed.
Hughes reported that a key component of the master plan will be revitalizing Peachtree Creek and Tanyard Creek, which converge and run through the golf course and Atlanta Memorial Park toward the Chattahoochee River, in order to reduce the impact of flooding.
|Robert Hughes describes what the|
group presently has as an "illustration
of a concept of an idea."
Another key will be renovating the course's vintage clubhouse and creating a path around the golf course that will unite the neighborhoods surrounding the course. Hughes said that is more an issue of filling in some gaps of existing paths and the planned path along Northside Drive and possibly narrowing Woodward Way to provide room for walkers, runners and bikers.
Huges told the BBA that plans being considered for Atlanta Memorial Park include maintaining it as a passive green space and not converting it into a sports field of any kind. Included in the budget is the planting of 50 trees in the first year, fixing erosion problems and ridding the park of evasive plant species, he said.
Smith said the conservancy is well on its way to making its 2012 budget of $104,000, which is paying for the feasibility study and the development of the master plan. She said they hope to have the budget covered in a month.
"Its the only original park in Atlanta that does not currently have a master plan," Smith said of Memorial Park.
Both Hughes and Smith said they intend to get input from the various neighborhoods in order to turn it into an area they can all be proud of.