Atlanta’s Bobby Jones Golf Course Could Go From 18 Holes To 9

A master plan for Bobby Jones Golf Course could change the 18-hole course into a nine-hole course with a driving range, but some residents want to keep that from happening.
Credit Elly Yu / WABE
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The city of Atlanta is looking at ways to renovate one of its oldest public golf courses, the Bob​by Jones Golf Course. One proposal includes changing the course from 18 holes to nine.

Bobby Jones Golf Course is named after the legendary player and has been an 18-hole golf course since the 1930s. It’s tucked in the middle of a Buckhead neighborhood in Atlanta Memorial Park.

The park’s conservancy has been looking at a master plan to upgrade the park.

“We have obviously a lot of flooding here in Atlanta Memorial Park,” said Catherine Spillman, the conservancy’s executive director. ”There are safety issues on and off the course.”

Spillman said the golf course sits on 120 acres of land, which makes the course very tight. 

“Typically, if you were redoing a golf course today, an 18-hole course, it would be sitting on approximately 250 acres.”  

The conservancy presented two master plan options to the city last year. One proposal includes shrinking the course from 18 holes down to nine and adding a driving range. Some of the park’s space will be used for a new parking deck, a new clubhouse and more green space.

But at a public meeting Monday night that the city of Atlanta sponsored, some residents say the course is fine as is.

“I disagree with bad condition. It’s relative,” said Tony Smith, president of the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Course. “It plays 46,000 rounds of public [golf] a year, so it’s never going to be up to the standard of a private country club.”

“We’d like to keep it this way. We think there’s a great history here,” Smith said. “I disagree with totally redesigning and tearing up the entire course that Bobby Jones helped develop.”

But Spillman says a nine-hole course with a driving range could make the park more accessible to a diverse group of people. 

“With golf, there are barriers to entry,” she said. “You’ve got women, you’ve got young children who are trying to enter the game, but it’s difficult.” 

She said if the park gives them a place to practice and offers youth programs, it could get more people into the game. 

The city is taking public feedback on the proposals and will hold its next meeting about the conservancy June 1.