By Bob Balgemann

The face of the historic Capital City Club in Brookhaven is changing, thanks to an 18-month renovation that is touching most corners of the country club.

Each of the 18 holes on the golf course is being “rerouted,” said Matt McKinney, the general manager and chief operating officer, to reflect a new direction, fresh angles and changes in elevation.

During the complete renovation, architect Bob Cupp “maximized the use of the land,” which McKinney said led to improvements such as an expanded parking lot, more tennis courts, a renovated driving range and increased space for fitness programs.

Work began in September 2007, and while some improvements have come on line, play on the 6,412-yard, par-71 golf course won’t resume until the spring.

Cupp, an Atlanta native who lives in Brookhaven, has made the approximately 25-acre lake, in the middle of the 110-acre property, a more prominent player in the golf course, especially on holes 16, 17 and 18.

Those holes “will be very exciting, very challenging,” McKinney said. “They wrap around the lake toward the clubhouse.”

Some of the fairways are narrow, causing the golfer to take more care as to the placement of his shots.

Reducing the width was a necessity, McKinney said, because “we’re in the middle of an urban environment. We don’t have a lot of acreage around us.”

Beyond that, Cupp has tried “to take each hole and craft it meticulously, to create a masterpiece with each one,” the general manager said. “It’s as finely tuned a design as I’ve ever seen, and I’ve managed a lot of golf courses. There’s diversity in each shot and in each hole.”

The architect has attempted to blend modern design with that of the start of the 20th century. Some greens are smaller with more severe angles, reflecting golf courses of the early 1900s, while others have larger, flatter putting surfaces, more mindful of today’s design.

The expansion of the cart barn in back of the clubhouse, to house the club’s 70 carts, has led to the creation of a small restaurant and member lounge on the roof of the building. Appropriately named The Overlook Room, the new facility offers a “spectacular view of the first tee, 18th green and our lake,” McKinney said. “This evolved from the original thought of putting a few rocking chairs on the roof” of the enlarged cart building.

The room should be finished by the end of 2008.

The larger parking lot, with 100 additional spaces, means an improved, more aesthetically pleasing entrance to the golf club, established in 1883 on nearby land and moved in 1910 to its current site at 53 W. Brookhaven Drive NE. Relocating some of the parking spaces to the side allows motorists to view the clubhouse as they drive in, rather than seeing parked cars.

New trees also are being planted.

The Capital City Club, open to members only, now has 11 tennis courts, up from seven, and there is a new teaching center near the clubhouse for the two teaching professionals.

All of the improvements, McKinney said, came as a result “of a more efficient layout of the golf course.”

Extensive communication occurred in the year before construction began. Golf club officials worked closely with the membership and the Brookhaven Club Neighborhood Association on the scope of work.

Homes surround the golf course, so “we tried to be a good neighbor by communicating as much as we could” about the construction projects and the time frame, he said.

“The membership was involved every step of the way,” McKinney said. “They voted on the more extensive improvements. They have been very patient.”

Members are paying for the renovations, though McKinney declined to say how much the project is costing. Nor would he say how many members are on the club’s roster.

The Capital City Club also is a partner in the community, hosting charitable golf tournaments each year. Among the beneficiaries are the Ronald McDonald House and the Jimmy V Foundation.

The course, nine holes when it opened in 1910, was designed by Herbert Barker, but McKinney said it has been tweaked over the years, leading some to say “the architect was a cast of thousands.”

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