More than 100 Buckhead residents and golfers packed the Bobby Jones Golf Course clubhouse April 27 to discuss plans to renovate the landmark golf course as part of a proposed remake of Atlanta Memorial Park..
Opinions varied widely on what city officials should do with course named for the Atlanta golfing legend.
“When you look at the history of this course, it’s a storied history,” said Herb McKoy of the Friends of Bobby Jones Inc., an organization that supports the 82-year-old course.
The Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy has proposed a park improvement plan that calls for $10 million to $15 million in improvements to the golf course, the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center, and other parts of the Buckhead park.
City officials said they called the meeting to start a public discussion over what to do with the park. More meetings will be held to narrow down and plan future park improvements, they said. The next meeting will be held about June 1, they said.
City parks officials told the overflow crowd that they decided not to give a formal presentation, but instead to ask residents to write their comments on Post-It Notes and stick them to comment boards. That would allow more people to comment, they said. The notes said everything from “Keep as is” to “Pool. Connectivity. Fix flooding.”
The decision angered some at the meeting, who expected to hear a discussion of the pros and cons of the proposals for changes in the park. “This is a terrible meeting,” said resident Elizabeth Morgan Spiegel, who was worried the plans could allow new development in the area. “They did not give us anything. I think they should have at least explained the things they want.”
The conservancy’s proposal calls for either rebuilding the golf course as a shorter 18-hole course or a reversible nine-hole course with a driving range.
“We’ve got 1,000 signatures on petitions from golfers who play here,” said Walt Lambeth. “We don’t want either the nine hole or shortened 18 holes.”
But other golfers disagreed, saying the course needed extensive improvements and better upkeep. Oscar Person, who described himself as an average golfer and said he lives nearby, said he welcomed the efforts to improve the course. “I think it’s good for all the change being proposed,” he said. “I’m excited.”