As plans move forward to create a new recital hall in the former Bobby Jones Golf Course clubhouse, a group that collected memorabilia of the famed golfer displayed at the clubhouse is worried about the exhibit’s future.
The golf course is undergoing an extensive renovation that includes building a new clubhouse. The Atlanta City Council on May 7 approved subleasing the former clubhouse to the Haynes Manor Recital Hall Foundation for the recital hall.
The memorabilia includes photos, trophies, replica clubs and newspaper clippings that were collected from sales and auctions by a friends group.
During the 1920s and early 1930s, Jones ranked among the best golfers in the world. He founded and helped design the Augusta National Golf Club and co-founded the Masters Tournament. He died in 1971.
Anthony Smith, who led the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Course to collect Jones memorabilia and display it in the clubhouse in 2015, said he is worried it could be stolen or moved.
He has already removed some of the pieces, including a trophy case and some books, and stores it in his office. Many framed photographs and replica clubs still hang on the walls.
“I don’t know who has a key to the place. I don’t know what might walk off,” Smith said.
Nikki Forman, a city spokesperson, said the Department of Parks and Recreations owns the memorabilia.
“We will work with interested parties to determine the future location of the memorabilia,” Forman said. “We look forward to working with the community as we transform the former clubhouse into a world-renowned recital hall.”
The city has already found a new home for the exhibit on Alfred “Tup” Holmes that was formerly displayed in the clubhouse and also sponsored by the friends group. Holmes was a black golfer who won a 1951 U.S. Supreme Court case that forced Atlanta to desegregate its golf course. The legal case began when the city would not allow Holmes to play at the Bobby Jones Golf Course. The exhibit has been moved to the city-owned Tup Holmes Golf Course in south Atlanta.
“We were disappointed. We wanted the exhibit to stay where the event occurred,” Smith said.
The clubhouse is still used for occasional community meetings, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars post and as a construction office for multiuse path construction ongoing around Atlanta Memorial Park.
Smith and the friends group also unsuccessfully lobbied against changing the golf course from 18 holes to a reversible nine-hole course. The nine-hole reconstruction is underway.
Meanwhile, the golf course is building a new clubhouse and no longer needs the former building, so a group has proposed to renovate it into a recital hall.
“I’m excited for this project, which was begun by Councilmember Yolanda Adrean, and has reached another milestone with the city council’s approval today,” said District 8 City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit in a written statement. “It’s a win for the city, the neighborhood and great music in Atlanta.”
The foundation will sublease the building from the city of Atlanta for $10 per year through 2037. Under the terms of the sublease agreement, the main level of the clubhouse would be used for private events including music recitals. The lower level would be used for programs and as a meeting space open to the public.
Smith said he hopes the memorabilia can still be displayed in the recital hall.
“I would like to see as much history as possible remain. We still think they are very important pieces,” he said.
The friends group found photos in archives showing Jones visiting the site during the course’s construction. Smith said they want to keep the clubhouse and course connected to Bobby Jones’ legacy and history.
Alex Simmons, who has led the effort to build a recital hall, said he hopes to integrate some of the memorabilia into the plan.
“I’m very interested in preserving anything that needs to be preserved. Nobody wants to throw anything in the dumpster,” he said.