Published on January 14th, 2016 |0
Atlanta Junior Golf official endorses link to 9-hole Bobby Jones plan
Kris Mikkelsen, a former two-time All-American and captain of the Georgia Tech golf team and current President of Atlanta Junior Golf, told a small but supportive group of south Buckhead residents during a Sunday afternoon meeting, “We want to have a presence here (at the Bobby Jones course).
“We have not had that for years. Atlanta Junior Golf has not visited Bobby Jones since 2007, yet it is in the middle of our geographic area,” Mikkelsen explained. “The condition of the facility is lower than what Atlanta Junior Golf expects and what other courses offer. And, AJC does not work with any course managed by American Golf,” he added.
Atlanta Junior Golf, one of the oldest youth golf organizations in the U.S., is in its 41st year and has 1,100 members. Mikkelsen told the small but supportive group meeting at the new Monroe apartments overlooking the golf course on Colonial Homes Drive, “Many decorated golfers had their roots in Atlanta Junior Golf.”
Mikkelsen, who is a resident stakeholder in the neighborhood, told the group he wants his children to be able to walk or ride their bikes down the street to a facility with golf club storage, a driving range and an opportunity to learn to play on a Wee Links Golf Course (which is part of the new AMPC golf course plan).
“That is why I fully endorse the 9-hole reversible course concept,” he told the audience. “There are some real challenges the way this golf course is designed,” Mikkelsen said. “I was excited with the 9-hold design.”
Speaking both as a neighbor and president of Atlanta Junior Golf, Mikkelsen stated, “We want to have a presence here. USGA Junior Golf and
Atlanta Junior Golf would love to have a presence at a golf course after Bobby Jones,” Atlanta’s most famous golf legend and favorite son.
“What makes this so unique is that Bobby Jones is a public facility,” Mikkelsen added.
Marty Elgison, vice president of the Conservancy’s board, told those attending the meeting, “One of the biggest factors for the Conservancy choosing the 9-hole option over the redone 18-hole option was junior golf.”
The AJGA is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and gains its funding through memberships, sponsorships and contributions. Since its inception in 1974, the AJGA (initially the DeKalb Junior Golf Association) has gained prominence as one of the premier junior golf programs in the nation.
The purpose of the association is to provide an environment where a junior golfer, male or female ages 7-18, can enjoy golf and progress at his/her own rate from beginner to a proficient level while promoting and preserving the traditions and integrity of the game.
Elgison and AMPC Executive Director Catherine Spillman also explained that the 9-hole reversible golf course plan that the Conservancy board chose as the preferred option in the Master Plan, also calls for the building of retention ponds on the course as part of the design which also can help reduce the impact of flooding from Peachtree Creek on the neighborhood.
The retention ponds can also be used to help in irrigating the golf course, which can reduce the cost of using city water. They pointed out it is possible that some of the water from the creek during potential flooding periods can be diverted to the retention ponds.
Asked about the process and schedule for moving forward with plans for the active side of the park, which also includes the Bitsy Grant Tennis Facility, Spillman said the Master Plan was submitted to the city for review in January of 2014. It is still sitting with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department in review process. The city owns the park, thus has the final decision.
Spillman pointed out that the plan has been revised somewhat from the original and a Wee Links Course has been added, the parking garage is now all underground and has been reduced in the number of parking spaces based on a study of the needs.
Spillman said that the Master Plan must first be approved by the Parks and Recreation Department and then by City Council, before final construction plans can be drawn up and serious fund-raising activities begun. She said it will take a long time to get the final plan done and to start work.
Elgison told the audience that the city has a request for proposals out for an operator to run the golf course facility. He said he has been told that American Golf is not going to bid on retaining the contract. He and Mikkelsen both agreed that the ideal situation would be for the golf course to be run by a non-profit organization.
The Jan. 10 meeting regarding Atlanta Junior Golf and the Bobby Jones course was arranged by AMPC board member and Collier Hills North Civic Association liaison Graham Carpenter and Kelli Keb, AMPC board member and Collier Hills Civic Association liaison.
On Dec. 10, AMPC presented the Memorial Park Walkways Project Feasibility Study findings and recommendations to the City’s Park Design Review (PDR) committee. The Feasibility Study addresses enhanced connectivity, tree canopy preservation and restoration of the native plant communities for the passive side of the park, on the west side of Northside Drive, commonly known as Memorial Park.
The PDR committee reviewed the proposal and is in support of the concept for the improvements to the passive side of the park. Currently, the perimeter sidewalk plans are with the Department of Public Works (DPW) for their initial review and comment.
Spillman informed BuckheadView, that when those comments are received and accepted by PDR, AMPC’s landscape architect firm, Hughes, Good, O’Leary and Ryan (HGOR), will move forward with the construction document phase.