Atlanta Athletic Club to Renovate Highlands Course

The Atlanta Athletic Club has announced that its Highlands course will be renovated during 2006, with Rees Jones serving as the architect. The Highlands course was the site of the 1976 U.S. Open, the 1981 PGA Championship, the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in 1984, the PGA Championship in 2001, the USGA Junior Championship in 2002, and is scheduled to host the PGA Championship again in 2011. The renovation of the course is expected to begin in March, 2006 and be complete by late fall of 2006.

"We look forward to Rees Jones enhancing the Highlands course that has hosted so many exciting championships," said Chris Borders, general manager of the club. "His renovation of the Riverside course received acclaim and I'm sure that he will again achieve excellent results on the Highlands course. I am also confident that our superintendent, Ken Mangum, and the grounds crew will produce excellent playing conditions on the course."

Golf Digest recognized the Riverside course at Atlanta Athletic Club as among the top 10 of new private courses in the U.S. in its rankings for 2004, with the course placing at No. 9. Rees Jones renovated the Riverside layout, including rerouting of holes and other major revisions to the layout that first opened in 1967 as part of the original 27 holes at the club designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The Riverside course hosted the 1990 U.S. Women's Open Championship.

Rees Jones began his career with Robert Trent Jones, Inc., his father's design firm. Serving as vice president of the golf architecture firm from 1964-1974, he was responsible for all jobs undertaken by the East Coast office. He has been president of Rees Jones, Inc., his own golf architecture firm from 1974 to the present. Jones has been a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects since 1967, and served as the organization's president in 1978.

The Atlanta Athletic Club was founded in 1898, initially in support of indoor games at its downtown Atlanta site. It added a suburban golf course at East Lake that opened in 1908. Bobby Jones, whose father "Colonel" Robert P. Jones was an active club member at the time of the golf course opening, learned the game at the Atlanta Athletic Club and maintained his membership throughout his life. Jones was instrumental in bringing the U.S. Open to the Atlanta Athletic Club in 1976, having written his invitation to host the event at the club just weeks before his death in 1971.

Proposed changes to the Highlands Course include:

All fairway and greenside sand bunkers will be reshaped and made deeper, with new drainage and bunker sand installed.

The locations of all greenside bunkers will be studied in detail to promote variety and develop more challenging approach shots and hole locations. When reshaped, all greenside bunkers will be shifted closer to the adjacent putting surface.

Fairway mowing patterns will shift closer to the edge of each renovated fairway bunker.

All fairways to be regraded and drainage to be installed.

All tees, collars, approaches, green surrounds that are cut at fairway height, and fairways will have Diamond zoysia grass.

All of the holes will undergo some revision, although the greens will not be rebuilt. Most holes will have a new championship tee built, adding length to nearly every hole. Some water features will change, including extending the pond from hole No. 7 towards the front left portion of the green on No. 6. Hole No. 7 will have the pond enlarged towards the tee by 15-20 feet. The pond on No. 11 will be expanded back towards the hillside and towards the fairway. On No. 14, the pond bordering hole No. 11, which runs parallel to the 14th, will be expanded to come into play on the right side of the fairway.