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Bobby Jones Golf Course Project Clears Latest Legal Hurdle

Georgia acquired Buckhead's Bobby Jones Golf Course in a 2016 land swap with Atlanta and leased it to the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation. The city gained a piece of land near Underground Atlanta in exchange.
Georgia acquired Buckhead's Bobby Jones Golf Course in a 2016 land swap with Atlanta and leased it to the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation. The city gained a piece of land near Underground Atlanta in exchange.
Credit Chris Ferguson / WABE

The development of Buckhead’s Bobby Jones Golf Course is still a go. That’s after a judge refused to make the course temporarily comply with city laws regarding things like tree removal.

Chuck Palmer is chair of the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation, which is running the project. He said this was a critical decision. “If we had had an order requiring us to comply with city ordinances and get various approvals, it literally would have shut down the golf course project.”

The issue is whether this state-owned property should be exempt from city laws. A group of neighbors sued the developer because they think the golf course is subject to Atlanta’s laws. The developer says it isn’t because the state owns the property.

Georgia acquired the course in a 2016 land swap with the city and leased it to the foundation. The city gained a piece of land near Underground Atlanta in exchange.

Palmer said the course has always been a state project, with state interests, permitted by the state.

“The state would not have done the land swap but for the state’s interest with Georgia State University, with the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, which the state created.”

The course will house the Georgia State golf teams and the state’s golf hall of fame. Currently, Georgia State players have to drive to Gwinnett or Henry counties to practice, he pointed out.

On Tuesday, the neighbors asked Fulton County Judge Gail Tusan to force the course to comply with Atlanta laws temporarily during the lawsuit.

She said she wouldn’t because if city officials were concerned about the golf course, they would have been in court themselves.

The neighbors’ lawyer, Bruce Brown, said in a statement they are “disappointed” and considering their next legal steps.

The course is scheduled to open this fall.

The president of the foundation, Martin Elgison, testified that $23 million has been raised from private donors for the project, and $13 million has been spent so far.