Revitalizing a Legend: The Multi-Million Dollar Makeover of East Lake Golf Course

East Lake Golf Course, nestled in the heart of Atlanta, has been a revered institution in the world of golf for over a century. However, over the years, the course had fallen into disrepair, leaving many to wonder if it would ever regain its former glory. But today, we’re here to put those fears to rest as we dive into the multi-million dollar makeover that’s breathing new life into this legendary course. Get ready to discover how this storied track is being revitalized and reimagined for a new generation of golfers to enjoy.

The History of East Lake Golf Course

The Origins of a Golfing Icon

East Lake Golf Course, nestled in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, has a storied past that spans over a century. Founded in 1913 by Charles Howard, the grandson of the founder of the Sears, Roebuck and Company, the course was initially designed by the renowned golf course architect, Donald Ross.

Originally, the course was a mere nine holes, but it was later expanded to its current 18-hole layout in the early 1920s. The course quickly gained a reputation as one of the finest in the country, attracting some of the most notable golfers of the era, including Bobby Jones, who won the Grand Slam in 1930, and later served as the course’s chairman from 1940 until his death in 1974.

During World War II, East Lake Golf Course played host to the “Atlanta Open,” which was a stop on the PGA Tour. In 1948, the course became the first public golf course to host the Ryder Cup, the prestigious international golf competition between teams from the United States and Europe.

Throughout the years, East Lake Golf Course has been the site of numerous historic moments in golf, including Sam Snead’s final PGA Tour victory in 1965 and the historic “shot heard ’round the world” by Jack Nicklaus in 1960, which launched his career as a golfing legend.

However, as the years passed, the course began to show its age, and by the 1990s, it had fallen into disrepair. Nevertheless, a dedicated group of individuals, including legendary golfer, Phil Mickelson, stepped in to save the course from closure and set in motion a multi-million dollar makeover that would revitalize East Lake Golf Course and secure its place as a golfing icon for generations to come.

The Course’s Prestigious Past

East Lake Golf Course, located in Atlanta, Georgia, has a rich and storied history that spans over a century. It was first designed by legendary golf course architect Donald Ross in 1913, and it quickly gained a reputation as one of the finest golf courses in the country.

In the 1950s, East Lake Golf Course became the home of the PGA Tour’s Atlanta tournament, which attracted some of the biggest names in golf. The course hosted the tournament for over 50 years, and it became known as one of the most challenging and prestigious events on the PGA Tour.

Throughout the years, East Lake Golf Course has been the site of many memorable moments in golf history. Some of the game’s greatest players have won tournaments at East Lake, including Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, and Jack Nicklaus.

Despite its storied past, East Lake Golf Course had fallen into disrepair in recent years. The course was in need of a multi-million dollar makeover to restore it to its former glory.

The Need for Renovation

Key takeaway: The revitalization of East Lake Golf Course, a historic golf course in Atlanta, Georgia, involved a multi-million dollar makeover to modernize and enhance the playing experience while preserving its heritage and natural beauty. The renovation also aimed to promote sustainability and minimize its impact on the environment. The course’s revitalization has had a positive impact on the local community, boosting the local economy and fostering golf development by providing opportunities for local youth and encouraging community involvement.

Identifying the Problems

Poor Drainage and Irrigation Systems

One of the primary issues identified during the assessment of East Lake Golf Course was its outdated drainage and irrigation systems. These systems were designed over half a century ago and were unable to effectively manage the course’s water supply, leading to waterlogging and poor drainage. As a result, the golf course suffered from inconsistent playing conditions, with some areas experiencing excessive water accumulation while others were severely dry. This disparity made it challenging for golfers to have a fair and enjoyable experience.

Inadequate Infrastructure

The course’s infrastructure was also found to be inadequate, with many of the facilities, such as the clubhouse and locker rooms, in need of renovation. These areas had not been updated since the 1960s, and their outdated appearance and lack of modern amenities detracted from the overall experience of playing at East Lake Golf Course. Additionally, the golf course lacked proper lighting for night-time play, which limited its operational hours and restricted its potential for revenue generation.

Compromised Turf Health

Another issue identified during the assessment was the poor health of the course’s turf. Over time, the grass had become worn and thin, leading to patchy and uneven playing surfaces. This problem was exacerbated by the inefficient irrigation system, which failed to provide adequate water to the turf, causing it to wither and die in some areas. As a result, the golf course appeared visibly unkempt and lacked the lush, green appearance that golfers have come to expect from world-class courses.

Environmental Concerns

Finally, the assessment revealed that the golf course’s maintenance practices were not environmentally sustainable. The use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers had resulted in soil degradation and water pollution, posing a threat to the local ecosystem. In addition, the course’s tree canopy had been reduced due to disease and aging, which negatively impacted the overall aesthetics of the course and threatened the habitat of several native bird species.

In light of these problems, it became clear that a comprehensive renovation was necessary to restore East Lake Golf Course to its former glory and ensure its continued relevance in the world of golf.

The Importance of Modernization

Golf courses, like any other infrastructure, require regular maintenance and upgrades to ensure they remain relevant and functional. The game of golf has evolved significantly over the years, and modern equipment and techniques have led to an increase in the skill level of golfers. As a result, golf courses must adapt to these changes to maintain their challenge and appeal to golfers.

In addition to keeping up with the evolution of the game, modernization also plays a critical role in enhancing the overall experience of golfers. With the rise of technology, golfers have come to expect a certain level of convenience and comfort when playing at a course. This includes features such as GPS-enabled carts, mobile app booking systems, and state-of-the-art irrigation systems that help maintain pristine course conditions.

Moreover, modernization can also play a significant role in environmental sustainability. Golf courses can use modern techniques to conserve water, reduce waste, and maintain ecological balance. By implementing these practices, courses can reduce their environmental impact while still providing a challenging and enjoyable experience for golfers.

In summary, the importance of modernization in golf course renovation cannot be overstated. It ensures that courses remain relevant and challenging for golfers, enhances the overall experience, and promotes environmental sustainability.

The Master Plan for Renovation

Restoring the Course’s Natural Beauty

Bringing Back the Original Vision

The master plan for the renovation of East Lake Golf Course included a focus on restoring the course’s natural beauty. This meant bringing back the original vision of the course’s designer, Donald Ross, who had envisioned a golf course that blended seamlessly with the surrounding landscape.

Removing Non-Native Vegetation

One of the key strategies for restoring the course’s natural beauty was to remove non-native vegetation that had been introduced over the years. This included invasive species such as kudzu and Chinese privet, which had taken over areas of the course and were crowding out native plants.

Restoring Native Plant Communities

To restore the course’s natural beauty, the team focused on restoring native plant communities. This involved removing invasive species and reintroducing native plants that had been lost over time. This work was done in consultation with local botanists and conservationists, who helped to identify the most appropriate plants for the specific soil and environmental conditions of the course.

Creating Habitat for Wildlife

In addition to restoring the course’s natural beauty, the team also aimed to create habitat for wildlife. This included installing bird boxes and bat houses, planting trees and shrubs that provide food and shelter for birds and other animals, and creating small ponds and wetlands that support a variety of aquatic life.

Improving Water Management

Another key aspect of restoring the course’s natural beauty was improving water management. This involved installing new irrigation systems and drainage systems to ensure that the course’s water was being used efficiently and effectively. The team also worked to restore natural water features such as streams and ponds, which had been altered or destroyed over time.

Reintroducing Natural Landforms

Finally, the team worked to reintroduce natural landforms to the course. This involved removing artificial features such as concrete cart paths and replacing them with natural materials such as gravel and crushed stone. The team also restored natural landforms such as sand traps and bunkers, which had been altered or removed over time. By restoring these natural features, the team aimed to create a golf course that was not only aesthetically pleasing but also environmentally sustainable.

Enhancing the Playing Experience

Refining Course Design

The East Lake Golf Course renovation aims to provide an exceptional playing experience for golfers of all skill levels. This involves refining the course design to optimize player enjoyment, while also preserving the unique character and challenge of the course.

Incorporating Sustainable Practices

In line with modern golf course design, the renovation of East Lake Golf Course will incorporate sustainable practices to minimize environmental impact. This includes the use of native plant species, efficient irrigation systems, and environmentally friendly maintenance practices.

Improving Turf Quality

An essential aspect of enhancing the playing experience is improving the quality of the turf. This involves implementing a comprehensive turf management program that focuses on using the latest techniques and technologies to maintain optimal playing conditions year-round.

Upgrading Infrastructure

To provide a more enjoyable and convenient experience for players, the renovation will also involve upgrading the course’s infrastructure. This includes improvements to cart paths, parking areas, and other amenities that contribute to the overall quality of the golfing experience.

Integrating Technology

In an effort to enhance the playing experience, the renovation will incorporate state-of-the-art technology to improve course management and player engagement. This may include installing electronic scoring systems, mobile app-based features, and other technological innovations to make the game more enjoyable and accessible for players.

Preserving Historic Character

While the East Lake Golf Course renovation aims to modernize and enhance the playing experience, it is also essential to preserve the historic character and charm of the course. This involves carefully restoring and maintaining the course’s iconic features, ensuring that the rich history and tradition of East Lake Golf Course continue to thrive for generations to come.

Embracing Sustainability

The revitalization of East Lake Golf Course was not only an opportunity to restore the course to its former glory but also to incorporate modern, sustainable practices that would minimize its impact on the environment. To achieve this, the design team focused on implementing a variety of strategies aimed at reducing the course’s water usage, energy consumption, and overall waste generation.

One of the key initiatives was the installation of an advanced irrigation system that uses weather data and soil moisture sensors to optimize water usage. This system, which is powered by solar panels, allows the course to maintain optimal playing conditions while minimizing water waste.

Additionally, the course has installed a state-of-the-art LED lighting system that significantly reduces energy consumption compared to traditional lighting systems. This not only helps to lower the course’s carbon footprint but also reduces the need for regular maintenance, as the lights are designed to last up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.

In terms of waste reduction, the course has implemented a comprehensive recycling program that includes the collection of food waste from the clubhouse for composting. This food waste is then used to fertilize the course’s fairways and greens, creating a closed-loop system that minimizes waste and promotes healthy plant growth.

Furthermore, the course has partnered with a local tree nursery to replant native species and restore the natural habitat of the surrounding area. This not only helps to maintain the course’s aesthetic appeal but also supports the local ecosystem and promotes biodiversity.

Overall, the East Lake Golf Course renovation has embraced sustainability as a core principle, with the aim of creating a world-class golfing experience while minimizing its impact on the environment.

Preserving the Legacy

Honoring the Course’s Heritage

When it comes to golf courses, few are as steeped in history and tradition as East Lake Golf Course. Originally designed by legendary golfer Bobby Jones and architect Charles Alison in the 1920s, the course has been the site of numerous historic moments in golf, including the 1934 Ryder Cup and the 1957 U.S. Open. As part of the multi-million dollar makeover, the new design team, led by architect Rees Jones, sought to honor the course’s rich heritage while also modernizing it for the 21st century.

To do this, the team conducted extensive research on the original design and the history of the course, taking great care to preserve and highlight the unique features that have made East Lake Golf Course such a beloved institution. From the original bunkers and greens to the historic clubhouse, every aspect of the course has been carefully restored and updated to reflect its storied past.

One of the key elements of the course’s heritage is its natural beauty. The course was designed to seamlessly blend into the surrounding landscape, with rolling hills, towering trees, and sparkling lakes creating a picturesque setting for golfers. To honor this legacy, the new design team has worked to preserve and enhance the course’s natural features, using sustainable materials and techniques to ensure that the course remains a haven for wildlife and a beautiful oasis in the heart of the city.

In addition to preserving the course’s natural beauty, the team has also worked to honor its rich history through the restoration of its iconic features. From the famous “Baba” bunker, which has been a fixture on the course since the 1920s, to the original clubhouse, which has been lovingly restored to its former glory, every aspect of the course’s heritage has been carefully preserved and highlighted.

Ultimately, the goal of the team has been to create a course that honors the legacy of Bobby Jones and Charles Alison while also providing a challenging and enjoyable experience for modern golfers. With its stunning design, natural beauty, and rich history, East Lake Golf Course is truly a legend in the world of golf, and the multi-million dollar makeover has ensured that it will continue to be a beloved institution for generations to come.

Keeping the Tradition Alive

Honoring the Original Design

  • Renovation plans include maintaining the course’s historic features
  • Greens, fairways, and bunkers are preserved to maintain original design
  • Expert input from architects and historians to ensure accuracy

Celebrating the Course’s Rich History

  • East Lake Golf Course has a storied past, hosting numerous golf championships
  • Commemorative markers and displays highlight the course’s significant moments
  • Restoration of original clubhouse and buildings to honor the course’s heritage

Encouraging the Continuation of Golfing Traditions

  • Local golfing communities are invited to participate in the restoration process
  • Regular events and tournaments held to keep the course’s history alive
  • Collaboration with golfing associations to ensure the continuation of golfing traditions

The Impact on the Community

Boosting Local Economy

The revitalization of East Lake Golf Course has had a significant impact on the local economy. The multi-million dollar makeover has brought a boost in tourism and increased spending in the surrounding area.

  • Increased Visitorship
    The golf course has seen an increase in the number of visitors since its revitalization. This influx of tourists has resulted in an increase in spending at local hotels, restaurants, and shops.
  • Job Creation
    The revitalization project has also created new job opportunities in the community. The increased demand for services and goods has led to the creation of new jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors.
  • Boost to Property Values
    The improvement of the golf course has also had a positive impact on property values in the surrounding area. The increased appeal of the community has led to an increase in property values, benefiting both homeowners and businesses.

Overall, the revitalization of East Lake Golf Course has had a positive impact on the local economy, creating new job opportunities and increasing spending in the community.

Fostering Golf Development

Providing Opportunities for Local Youth

One of the primary objectives of the multi-million dollar makeover of East Lake Golf Course was to foster golf development in the local community. In pursuit of this goal, the renovated course has created several opportunities for the youth of Atlanta to become involved in the sport.

Creating a Golf Hub in the City

East Lake Golf Course, located in the heart of Atlanta, has been transformed into a state-of-the-art facility that serves as a hub for golf in the city. The revitalization project has enabled the course to offer a wider range of services and programs for both beginners and experienced golfers, including top-quality instruction, club fitting, and tournaments.

Increasing Accessibility to Golf

The renovated East Lake Golf Course has also taken significant steps to increase accessibility to the sport for members of the local community. By offering affordable rates and a flexible membership structure, the course has become a popular destination for families and individuals who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience golf.

Encouraging Community Involvement

Finally, the multi-million dollar makeover of East Lake Golf Course has helped to foster a sense of community involvement and pride in the sport of golf. The course now serves as a gathering place for residents of all ages, providing a unique setting for socializing, networking, and building relationships.

Through these initiatives, the renovated East Lake Golf Course has become a vital resource for golf development in the local community, ensuring that the sport remains accessible and relevant to residents of Atlanta for generations to come.

The Future of East Lake Golf Course

The Excitement Builds

Golf enthusiasts and course designers alike are eagerly anticipating the completion of the multi-million dollar makeover of East Lake Golf Course. This storied course, located in the heart of Atlanta, has a rich history dating back to the 1930s, having hosted numerous prestigious golf tournaments, including the Ryder Cup and the Tour Championship. The anticipation surrounding the renovation is palpable, as many believe that the course’s updated design will elevate it to new heights of prestige and challenge.

Some of the key changes that are being implemented as part of the makeover include:

  • The expansion and reconfiguration of several fairways, with the aim of increasing the course’s overall length and difficulty.
  • The addition of new bunkers and the repositioning of existing ones, which will further test the skills of even the most experienced golfers.
  • The planting of new trees and the restoration of existing ones, which will provide both visual appeal and strategic challenges for players.
  • The installation of a state-of-the-art irrigation system, which will ensure that the course remains in top condition year-round.

With these updates, East Lake Golf Course is poised to become one of the premier golf destinations in the world, attracting top professionals and amateurs alike. As the excitement builds, golfers and enthusiasts alike are eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the renovated course, which promises to offer a truly unparalleled golfing experience.

The Anticipated Completion

Golf enthusiasts and course designers alike are eagerly anticipating the completion of the multi-million dollar makeover of East Lake Golf Course. After years of careful planning and construction, the course is set to reopen its doors to the public in the near future.

The revitalization project, which began in 2018, has been a labor of love for all those involved. The goal was to restore the course to its former glory while also modernizing it to meet the needs of today’s golfers.

Some of the most notable changes to the course include the addition of new tee boxes, the redesign of several holes, and the installation of a state-of-the-art irrigation system. Additionally, the course will feature new bunkers, improved drainage, and updated landscaping.

With these improvements, East Lake Golf Course is poised to become one of the premier golf destinations in the country. Its reputation as a challenging yet rewarding course will only be further solidified by the new changes.

Golfers from around the world are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to experience the updated East Lake Golf Course. With its storied history and world-class design, the course is sure to attract golfers of all skill levels and backgrounds.

In short, the anticipated completion of the East Lake Golf Course makeover is a highly anticipated event in the world of golf. Golfers and course designers alike are eager to see how the course has been transformed and to experience the new and improved East Lake Golf Course for themselves.

The Journey Thus Far

The story of East Lake Golf Course’s transformation began in 2013 when the city of Atlanta announced plans to renovate the historic golf course. The course, which had been open since 1913, had fallen into disrepair and was in need of significant improvements. The city partnered with the PGA Tour to oversee the renovation and restore the course to its former glory.

The renovation process was extensive and required the closure of the course for several months. During this time, the golf course underwent a complete overhaul, including the redesign of its fairways, greens, and bunkers. The course also received new irrigation and drainage systems, as well as a state-of-the-art lighting system for night play.

To ensure the success of the project, the city and the PGA Tour enlisted the help of some of the best golf course architects in the world. The team included Tom Fazio, who served as the lead architect, as well as Jerry Pate, Steve Wyatt, and Tim Fries. Together, they worked to create a modernized golf course that would still maintain its historic charm.

The renovation process was not without its challenges. The team had to contend with unexpected issues, such as unmarked graves and historic artifacts, which required additional work and oversight. However, despite these setbacks, the team remained committed to the project and worked tirelessly to ensure its success.

As the renovation process neared completion, excitement began to build for the reopening of the course. Golf enthusiasts and fans of the sport were eager to see the transformed course and experience the improved playing conditions.

Finally, in September 2017, the newly renovated East Lake Golf Course reopened to the public. The course received widespread acclaim, with golfers and critics alike praising its improved playing conditions and stunning design. The course quickly became a favorite among local and visiting golfers, cementing its status as one of the premier golf courses in the country.

The Legacy Continues

The East Lake Golf Course, with its storied past and iconic status, is set to continue its legacy as a premier golf destination. The multi-million dollar makeover has not only restored the course to its former glory but has also equipped it with modern amenities and sustainable practices, ensuring its place as a leader in the golfing world for years to come.

Maintaining Historical Significance

The revitalization project has taken great care to preserve the historical significance of the East Lake Golf Course. The course’s original design features, such as the original bunkers and greens, have been meticulously restored to their original form. This attention to detail ensures that the course remains true to its roots, providing golfers with a unique and authentic experience.

Embracing Technological Advancements

While the course’s historical significance has been maintained, it has also embraced technological advancements. The use of state-of-the-art irrigation systems and advanced turf management techniques ensures that the course remains in top condition year-round. The club has also invested in the latest golf simulators and other cutting-edge technology to enhance the golfer’s experience and provide a more comprehensive learning environment.

Sustainable Practices

The East Lake Golf Course is committed to sustainable practices, implementing eco-friendly initiatives throughout the course. This includes the use of natural fertilizers and pest control methods, as well as the installation of solar panels to reduce energy consumption. The course’s dedication to sustainability not only benefits the environment but also ensures its long-term viability as a golf destination.

Continued Growth and Development

The future of the East Lake Golf Course is bright, with plans for continued growth and development. The club is constantly exploring new ways to enhance the golfer’s experience, whether through the addition of new amenities or the expansion of its programming. The East Lake Golf Course is poised to remain a leader in the golfing world for years to come.


1. What is East Lake Golf Course?

East Lake Golf Course is a historic public golf course located in Atlanta, Georgia. Designed by legendary golfer Bobby Jones and architect Alister MacKenzie, it first opened in 1913. Over the years, it has hosted numerous prestigious golf tournaments, including the Ryder Cup and the Tour Championship.

2. What is the current status of East Lake Golf Course?

As of 2021, the course is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation project, which began in late 2020. The renovation is aimed at restoring the course to its original design and improving its overall playability, while also preserving its historical significance.

3. Why is the renovation necessary?

The course had fallen into disrepair over the years, with several modifications made to the original design. The renovation is necessary to restore the course’s original character and to address drainage and irrigation issues that have plagued the course for many years.

4. Who is leading the renovation?

The renovation is being led by renowned golf course architect, Dr. Martin E. Blaikie, along with his team at Blaikie & Dennie Golf Course Architects. Dr. Blaikie has extensive experience in restoring and renovating historic golf courses, and his team is committed to preserving the course’s historic character while modernizing its infrastructure.

5. When is the renovation expected to be completed?

The renovation is expected to be completed in late 2022. During this time, the course will be closed to the public, but a temporary driving range and practice facility will be available nearby.

6. What changes can we expect to see in the renovated course?

The renovated course will return to its original design, with restored bunkers, greens, and fairways. Several holes will be lengthened to challenge professional golfers, while others will be shortened to improve playability for recreational golfers. The course will also feature improved drainage and irrigation systems, as well as enhanced landscaping and environmental features.

7. Will the renovation impact the TOUR Championship?

The TOUR Championship, which has been held at East Lake Golf Course since 1997, will not be affected by the renovation. The tournament is scheduled to continue at the course in 2023, following the completion of the renovation.

8. How is the renovation being funded?

The renovation is being funded through a combination of private donations and public funding. The East Lake Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the East Lake community, has played a significant role in raising funds for the project.

Getting Ready for the Tour Championship at Eastlake Golf Club in Atlanta, GA

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