The nearly 100-year-old Bobby Jones Golf Club in Florida may soon receive a major facelift.

Courtesy of BobbyJonesGolfClub.com

Before the Bobby Jones Golf Club could win an audience with one of the most famous players in sports history, the Sarasota, Florida-based municipal course faced a slightly different problem: it needed to a name.

It was 1926, and after a long period of construction, famed Donald Ross had completed his design work on the course – the latest in a series of design efforts across the Sunshine State. Ross had done a particularly remarkable job at Sarasota, building the 6,700-yard par 72 course on a large piece of public property about three miles inland.

When the townspeople finally decided they should name the course they so often enjoyed, only one name was considered: the most famous golfer of the time, Robert Tire “Bobby” Jones.

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Jones was an adopted son from Sarasota. It was first introduced to the area in 1925, when he played in a much-publicized 72-hole game against Walter Hagen at Whitfield, another Ross course nearby. It took another seven years before Jones became the founding member of Augusta National, and his winter schedule was light. Jones returned to Sarasota in the winter of 26, playing half a dozen more games against the best players of the time.

On February 13, 1927, in the presence of Jones, the people of Sarasota officially opened the Bobby Jones Golf Club. Jones would go on to shoot 73 on Ross’ work that day, beating a group of local amateurs by two strokes.

In the nearly one hundred years since that grand opening, the Bobby Jones Golf Club has seen a tonne of golf, and precious little change. Yes the earth looks different – the surrounding area is now a nature sanctuary, open to the public far beyond golf. But until the summer, the facilities had been intact from their mid-century development, and years of use had weakened the condition of the course of the same name.

Today, the course remains closed and its facilities have been bulldozed. But there is hope for the future – hope that could come as quickly as Monday.

According to a report from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the city of Sarasota will consider a series of measures this week that could improve the future of the club.

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Headlining is a $ 12.5 million park renovation project that, if passed, will cover the cost of expanding access to walking trails, new facilities, a new clubhouse, the construction of a nine-hole executive course and, most urgently, a full-fledged catering to the beloved, 18-hole Ross outfit. A course development company named QGS Developments has been awarded the contract for the restoration, if the city commission gives the green light. The city will also be debating whether to transfer course management responsibilities to Antares Golf, LLC, the operators of a multitude of municipal courses nationwide. Best of all, for golf enthusiasts and Ross nerds? The city will also consider a motion urging it to grant conservation status to the course, which would prevent the course from being developed or sold in perpetuity.

There’s a lot we won’t know until Monday night in the city of Sarasota to discuss the changes, but the club’s decision to raze the remaining structures would appear to be a positive sign for supporters of a large-scale renovation.

For now at least, there is reason to be cautious about the future of one of golf’s most historic towns. It’s good news.

As for clarifying the name discrepancy with Bobby Jones Golf field in Atlanta? Now, we’ll leave that for a future day.

James colgan

Publisher of Golf.com

James Colgan is associate editor at GOLF, contributing articles for the website and magazine on a wide range of topics. He writes Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and uses his experience broadcasting on the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 Syracuse University graduate, James – and obviously his golf game – is still thawing after four years in the snow, during which he cut his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News and Fox Sports. . Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddy scholar (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is originally from.