We’re all lucky to play a game that offers golfers myriad great courses, full of different options and designs, all of them connecting us to talented architects, to creative thinking and design in using the land, and, in some way, to the history of the game we love. Perhaps no course in America connects all those dots, as well as adding new and exciting elements to its experience, like Bobby Jones Golf Course in Atlanta, Georgia.
On this episode of the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast, Mitch Laurance shares his revelatory trip to Bobby Jones with co-host Darin Bunch and explains why it proved to be one of the most eye-and-heart-opening journeys he’s taken. Mitch begins with a description of a stop he made at the famous Oakland Cemetery on his way to the golf course, making a pilgrimage of sorts to Bobby Jones’ gravesite and paying homage to the legendary champion for whom the golf course was named. After a brief and grateful connection to Mr. Jones, Mitch travels the short distance to what will become, for him, the best combination of golf history, community partnership, creative course design and forward-thinking planning and execution he’s found anywhere in America.
Mitch details the history behind the Bobby Jones Golf Course, starting with its original opening in 1933 and progressing decades until a complete renovation and re-opening in 2018. Along the way, Mitch describes the partnership of the key people involved in a bold new vision: Attorneys Marty Elgison (who first felt the need to upgrade the distressed original course) and Chuck Palmer, Bob Jones IV (grandson of Bobby Jones), friends and investors who formed the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation, all of whom combined with Atlanta-based individuals, companies, and groups such as Delta, Club Car, Coca-Cola and PGA Tour Superstore and others to raise more than $30 million that was used for a total reshaping of the golf course and adjacent facilities.
Mitch then goes into detail on what makes the Bobby Jones Golf Course so unique and special: the reversible nine-hole design, created by legendary architect and Atlanta native Bob Cupp and completed by his son Bobby in 2018 after the tragic passing of Bob Sr. in 2016, before ground was broken. The brilliant layout that accommodates every golfer from the best players to complete beginners with the eight-position Longleaf Tee System, teeing areas that range from 7,486 yards to 3,267 yards when playing 18 holes (nine in each direction). Double greens that challenge the player, no matter from which direction an approach is played. Superb course conditions from Superintendent Kyle Macdonald and his team, utilizing a unique, uniform fairway height (and no “rough”) from tee the green. A magnificent routing engages not only the players but the surrounding community, a highly unusual interaction in a modern city like Atlanta. And visuals filled with trees, a huge lake, ravines and bridges around the entire course that are worthy of hours of time and multiple rounds.
Mitch then shares his time spent with Director of Golf Brian Conley, a visionary leader of the Bobby Jones Golf Course team, who’s created a fantastic atmosphere for success in every element of the facility. The Ed Hoard Pro Shop, a marvel of technology and minimalist design. The soon-to-open Hall Hut check-in stop to begin your round. The spectacular epicenter of Georgia golf — The Murray Golf House — home to the Georgia State Golf Association, the Georgia PGA Section, the interactive Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, the Bobby Jones Golf Room and the fabulous Boone’s Restaurant, a casual eatery that rivals any in the famous Buckhead section of Atlanta.
Mitch then describes other elements that make up a portfolio of exceptional offerings, all of them evidence of a commitment to junior and adaptive golf and growing the game. The Grand Slam Golf Academy and its three hitting bays, home to a thriving instructional and club-fitting environment led by five PGA Instructors, and serving more than 1,000 kids in its first two years through lessons, clinics and more, under the stewardship of PGA Instructor Justin Martin, and in partnership with U.S. Kids Golf and the PGA League. The Academy also showcases a phenomenal commitment to disabled and challenged golfers through an Adaptive Golf program of lessons and monthly clinics, in partnership with the Georgia State Golf Association Adaptive Golf Program. It’s also home base for the Georgia State University golf teams, who utilize three bays on the second floor of the Academy and the far end of the practice range.
Next on Mitch’s list is the Dan Yates Putting Course, a reversible nine holes of putting beauty and challenge that greets you as you approach the golf course. Perfect for kids as well as adults, the Yates Course offers fun and practice for any golfer. Another feature for kids that separates the Bobby Jones Golf Course operation from other facilities is the Cupp Links, a ‘Wee Course’ designed specifically for under-12 golfers who are learning the game. With five holes that range from 50 to 70 yards and offer challenge as well as fun, the Cupp Links is drawing raves from both kids and their parents, who often participate alongside their children for a tremendous bonding hour.
With a driving range that is absolutely packed, amenities like the Yates Putting Course and the Cupp Links, the Grand Slam Golf Academy, Boone’s Restaurant, the Murray Golf House and its Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, a forward-thinking leader in Brian Conley leading a passionate, dedicated team, and a showcase, revolutionary golf course that celebrates and honors the history of Bobby Jones and Georgia golf in a perfect way, Bobby Jones Golf Course is a must-visit stop on any Atlanta golf itinerary.
—Words by Mitch Laurance