Georgia has managed to save many of its struggling golf courses because private entities such as Canongate have put them under its umbrella. Atlanta-based Affiniti Golf has come in to manage numerous courses that were in financial straits. Both firms have helped in enabling courses to remain open under tough times. Some were not as fortunate. Mike Waldron, former executive director of the Georgia State Golf Association and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, remembers many of the state’s courses that did not survive the economic downturn.
Sometimes there’s no option, and a course must be closed.
A lot of the courses in Georgia that closed during the recession didn’t stay closed. A lot of them were bought and reopened. A lot of the course closures happened before the recession, when the price of land was going up. Sometimes the land became more valuable as real estate, than it was as a golf course.
Lakeside Country Club was a course that opened in the late 1950s and gave people in southwest Atlanta and the suburbs a place to play golf. It was a very active club. There were a lot of golf activities, a lot of social activities. It was a good club, a place where people knew each other and could socialize.
Lakeside was built by George Cobb, who was a very busy and well-known architect in those days. Cobb did the renovations at East Lake before it hosted the Ryder Cup in 1963. He built courses in those days that had a lot of doglegs. You could hit it down the middle or try to cut the corner. I remember when we got a little older we’d try to power it over the trees like the big guys.
Lakeside wasn’t a great golf course. It probably didn’t play more than 6,800 yards, but it was a fun golf course. Darwin White was the head professional there, and Ed Hoard followed him. Both those guys are in the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.
Lakeside is a housing development now. You can still drive back in there and see the outline of some of those holes.
Another course that wasn’t quite as old was Fairington (in Lithonia). That was a good, strong golf course. It was long, probably 7,000 yards when 7,000 yards meant something. What a good golf course it was, but when the area started to change it was more valuable for the land. There are apartments back there now.
Griffin Country Club was a pretty good golf course. The GSGA held some local qualifying events there, and the Georgia PGA had a tournament there for many years. They may have been hurt by some of the new courses that have opened up down there. But I’ve got to believe that this is one that somebody will get in there and reopen.