Published on October 27th, 2016 |2
City’s Bobby Jones, North Fulton golf courses losing management firm Oct. 31
The city has said the golf courses will remain open after Oct. 31, but apparently no new vendor to manage and operate the courses—along with Atlanta’s Brown’s Mill, Alfred “Tup” Holmes and Candler Park courses—has been hired.
American Golf Corporation and the city could not reach an agreement following a recent competitive bidding process for the right to operate and manage several city-owned golf courses. “Unfortunately, despite the efforts of everyone involved, we were not able to reach…an agreement,” American Golf has said in a statement.
But American Golf apparently did not even enter the bidding process to continue operating the golf courses. City spokesperson Jewanna Gaither said that American Golf “did not compete” in the recent competitive bidding for the contract.
“Starting November 1, American Golf Corporation will no longer serve as the management company for the City’s golf courses,” Gaither reportedly announced. “Nonetheless, all operations will continue, and we are committed to ensuring our golf courses serve as vital community assets for future generations.” She said the city is working on the transition to a new operator.
The city may not ultimately be involved in hiring the operator for the Bobby Jones Golf Course facility in south Buckhead’s Atlanta Memorial Park, since that property is part of a land swap
agreement between the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia that was approved this past summer.
That controversial land swap agreement included plans to remake the present 18-hole Bobby Jones course into a reversible nine-hole course, with a new clubhouse, parking deck, youth golf facility and a driving range and included a Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.
Dist. 8 Atlanta City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean told BuckheadView Tuesday (Oct. 25) that the Bobby Jones deal “is supposed to close this week. I don’t believe there are any other agreements beyond those for leasing the historic clubhouse and Bitsy Grant, and easements for the (pedestrian) bridge and Path,” she added.
That comment suggests that the city would no longer be responsible for managing and operating the Bobby Jones Golf Course after the deal with the state is finalized.
Adrean, who represents the areas where both Buckhead courses are located, told the Neighbor Newspapers the city had extended the lease with American Golf on a month-to-month basis for six months before the company decided to end the lease. Adrean said a bid process for a new vendor to manage the courses yielded one bidder but it did not meet the requirements of a new lease.
“As I understand it, the lease (agreement) the city put out had a lot of requirements from capital investments to hiring policies, so it was very difficult in the golf world to find someone to foot the bill,” Adrean told the Neighbor Newspapers. “So the city found itself with the transition without a new vendor.”
Adrean said she hopes the city’s parks and recreation department will manage the courses for only a short period of time before a new vendor is selected.
The management and operation of golf courses such as Bobby Jones and North Fulton is not limited to signing in golfers to play the course and renting them golf carts. Golf courses require daily maintenance by people who understand golf course turf—cut and fertilize it—cutting new holes on the greens daily and manicuring the sand traps and tees, to list just a few items.
It is not work that can be professionally handled by just any staff member of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation—at least not if the city expects golfers to continue to play on these courses.
“They’ve got to scramble to get the appropriate equipment, staff and so forth to provide (a) seamless transition for (golfers),” Adrean said. “I think it will be a challenge. I am disappointed, of course, and I don’t think the city should run golf courses by (itself) and I hope we can find someone to partner with.”
North Fulton Golf Course, on West Wieuca Road within Chastain Park, is one of the most popular city-owned public golf courses in the country, with hundreds of plays a day during good weather seasons.