Designing the Course
The University of Georgia Golf Course celebrates 50 years of history, service, and future since its opening in 1968 with the purpose of supporting the university community and a collegiate golf program. Over the years the course has become an important recreation facility not only for the University, but for the state of Georgia as a whole. Legendary former Women's Golf Coach Liz Murphey noted during the 1993 NCAA Women's Championships that "Dr. Aderhold [UGA's President from '50-67'] loved the game of golf. He was the reason the course was built." The University already owned the land and Dr. Aderhold was a personal friend of Robert Trent Jones Sr., the golf course's architect. In addition, students were so interested in having a golf course that they agreed to pay for it in their student activity fees over a five year period during the 1960s. Aderhold hired Jim Cole to supervise construction, but Cole was hampered by financial problems and heavy rains. When the course was finally finished, the course was missing some of the Jones features because they were either washed away or because the money ran out. Murphey described it as 'a miracle' that Cole had the course ready when the University hosted its first national championship for women in 1971. During the 1970s and 1980s, the golf course hosted a number of different tournaments including the annual Liz Murphey Women's Collegiate Classic, the PGA Junior Championship, the Men's and Women's SEC Championships, as well as the 1971, 1981, 1983, 1993, and 2013 Women's NCAA Golf Championships.
Renovating the Course
By 1990, the course needed heavy renovation and Dave Cousart, the golf course manager, worked to rebuild the greens and irrigation system, as well as integrate a number of Jones' features that had been left out because of the limited budget back in the 1960s. Cousart worked with John LaFoy, a veteran designer who also created the Athens Country Club North course, who integrated more modern mounding and bunkers into the course design. In addition to the LaFoy restoration, an automated modern irrigation system was installed in 2001 while a new maintenance building was constructed the following year. In May 2006, the greens and the greens complex were completely renovated by Love Golf Design of St. Simons Island. The new green design brought the course up to the championship standards of today's top professional and collegiate players. The greens are very characteristic of a Jones course and the renovation included 21 new tees, making the course more versatile for both amateurs and professionals. The 2006 renovation has been received with positive ovation that continues today through the work of the current golf course staff, which is still under the leadership of Mr. Cousart. This year, the course celebrates its 50th anniversary with a new ramp that provides a clearer entrance to the course and is ADA accessible.
Playing the Course
Through the years, the University Golf Course has received numerous accolades. Most recently, the golf course was ranked number 1 in the state and 12th in the nation by GolfAdvisor, and number 6 in the state by Golfweek.
On June 3, 2009, the University of Georgia and the PGA Tour announced that the Web.com Tour's "Athens Classic at UGA" would be played at the UGA Golf Course. "The University of Georgia is proud to be the host of the Athens Classic at UGA" said UGA President Michael F. Adams. The University of Georgia became the first and, to date, only institution of higher education to own and operate a Web.com Tour event. The tournament ran for four years, with its primary goal being raising money for need-based scholarships at the University. Watkinsville, GA based Stadion Money Management became the title sponsor for the tournament in 2010 and remained as such through the four years of the event. The tournament also tried to help the Athens community through the TICKETS For CHARITY program, which allowed local and regional non-profit organizations the chance to keep 100% of the ticket sales they were responsible for. Over the four years of the event, more than $380,000 was distributed to non-profits in northeast Georgia through the TICKETS For CHARITY program. The tournament was very unique in that each year's field of competitors included two current members of the UGA Men's Golf Team. In 2011, UGA golf team member Russell Henley won the tournament as an amateur, which is a very rare occurrence. Overall, three of the four Stadion Classic at UGA champions were Georgia Bulldogs. Henley in 2011, Hudson Swafford in 2012, and Brendon Todd in 2013. Swafford and Todd won as professionals after their UGA careers were completed.