The first official mention of a potential University of Georgia Golf Course dates back to the summer of 1956 in a memo sent by Physical Education and Recreation Professor E. B. Smith to then University President O.C. Aderhold. In the memo, Dr. Smith explains changes in the local golf course’s policies that negatively impacted students, faculty, and staff. Green fees were increasing to $1.03 per round and faculty members were no longer given access to the course. Dr. Smith also highlighted the educational and recreational advantages of the university operating its own golf course. Lifetime sports, as they were known at that time, were a big focus of the post war United States to ensure a strong and healthy population for the future. Colleges and Universities were also adopting recreational programs based on the increased national interest in outdoor activities and the known benefits of a sound mind and body. Dr. Smith deemed the golf course project ‘possible, feasible, and practical.’ President Aderhold replied by suggesting that a golf committee be created to explore the possibility of a university golf course.
Golf Committee is Created
Dr. Smith worked on putting together the golf committee President Aderhold suggested and came up with the group listed below in the summer of 1957:
Dr. E.B. Smith, Professor, Health, Physical Education and Recreation
- Dr. C.C. Murray, Chairman-Sub Committee on Site and Construction
- Mr. J.D. Bolton, Comptroller
- Mr. B.C. Kinney, Plant Operations
- Dr. J.E. Gates, Dean, Business Administration
- Coach Wallace Butts, Athletic Director
- Coach Howell Hollis, Business Manager Athletic Department
- Professor Hubert Owens, Landscape Architect
- Dr. B.W. Gabrielson, Professor, Health, Physical Education and Recreation
- Dr. R.T. Bowen, Jr., Associate Professor, Health, Physical Education and Recreation
- Mr. Tom Paris, Paris Dunlap Hardware Company, Gainesville, GA
President Aderhold and Dr. John A. Dotson were involved from the UGA Executive Office.
The first meeting of the golf committee took place on September 16, 1957. A sub-committee was tasked with finding a land site capable of housing an 18-hole golf course. The sub-committee viewed their best option as property owned by Mr. Malcom Rowe located just east of the then current University Horticulture farm. Mr. Rowe supported the construction of a golf course on his property with the potential for developing the land surrounding the golf course for residential purposes. In addition to land purchase options, a land exchange idea emerged because the university owned land that Mr. Rowe viewed as most desirable for his desired housing development. Mr. Rowe would give some of his property for the development of the golf course in exchange for the property he desired to develop. The feasibility of the land exchange idea needed to be validated, so Mr. Rowe suggested renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. be hired to develop plans for the property in question.
Robert Trent Jones, Sr.
Mr. Jones was extremely well known in the golf world at the time the University Golf Course was being planned, but, by the end of his career, he was responsible for the design or re-design of more than 400 golf courses in the United States and 35 other countries. Mr. Jones prolific career led to the famous saying that the sun never sets on a Robert Trent Jones golf course. Jones was very successful in Georgia, having co-designed Peachtree Golf Club with legendary golfer Bobby Jones, as well redesigning holes 11 and 16 at Augusta National Golf Club. While Jones was building the University Golf Course, he was also working on 36 holes at the Atlanta Athletic Club and the Stonemont Course at Stone Mountain Golf Club.
Mr. Jones made four trips to Athens and created multiple plans for the Rowe property, with Plan F being chosen by the golf committee as most suitable. Plan F clearly pointed out the area of the golf course and the proposed area for Mr. Rowe’s housing development. In September 1960, the committee recommended Plan F to President Aderhold. While all agreed that Plan F was best and that the university needed a golf course, no final decisions on the project were made at that time. There was still some discussion as to the best way for the University to obtain the necessary land from Mr. Rowe. While gaining momentum, the idea of a university golf course still lacked
Outdoor Education and Recreation at UGA
In early 1961, a brief report on Outdoor Education and Recreation at UGA was put together by a Mr. Bradford and Dr. Masters that supported expansion of the university’s outdoor facilities and programs. They recommended a two pronged program that addressed the need for year round facilities and programs for outdoor recreation and recruiting the necessary faculty and staff for support. This report outlined the benefits of a university golf course and a recreational area on the east side of campus. That recreational area is the current day Intramural Sports Complex off College Station Road, which also contains Lake Herrick. Mr. Bradford and Dr. Masters were guided by the 1958 Brumbaugh Report that stated the university’s objective was “to develop the physical well-being of each student, providing adequate facilities and opportunities for this development, and encouraging participation by all students….and to provide them with opportunities for constructive recreation.”
Approval and Construction
The golf course project got a green light to proceed in September 1962. It should be noted that the University of Florida announced that its athletic association was purchasing Gainesville Golf & Country Club for the use of the university students, faculty, and staff. Whether or not that had anything to do with the University of Georgia’s decision to build a golf course is unknown, but prestige and keeping up with peer institutions were very important at the time, as they still are today. A land exchange with Mr. Rowe was finalized and internal resources were sought for the construction of the golf course to keep costs down. A gap in the written communications about the golf course between E.B. Smith and O.C. Aderhold must have taken place between 1963-1965, as the next golf course related document in President Aderhold’s personal records is an informational piece on the University of Georgia Recreation and Research Center. In this report, most of the suggestions from the Outdoor Education and Recreation statement from 1961 have been put into action. Intramural fields, a 20-acre lake, and the golf course were all under construction at this time. Project timelines were admittedly slow due to the use of in-house resources to save costs. From eyewitness accounts, the golf course project was also slow moving, but perhaps more so from very wet weather throughout construction than anything else.
Student Activity Fees Help Finance the Golf Course
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