Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy Vice-president Marty Elgison goes over the  master plan.
Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy Vice-president Marty Elgison goes over the master plan.

By Collin Kelley

The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods got its first look last night at the master plan for major renovations and upgrades to Atlanta Memorial Park, which encompasses the Bobby Jones Golf Course and Bitsy Grant Tennis Center, along Northside Drive.

Expected to take 10 years and cost from $10 to $15 million to complete, the most significant part of the master plan is an overhaul of Bobby Jones Golf Course. Atlanta Memorial Park Vice-President Marty Elgison said the course hadn’t been updated in more than 80 years. Elgison and Atlanta Memorial Park President Roxanne Giles Smith presented two plans for the golf course – an update of the current 18-hole course or a more controversial nine-hole course with a driving range. There would also be a new clubhouse.

“There’s an emotional feeling that the course should stay 18 holes,” Elgison said, “but there is also demand for a driving range since the closest one is more than 10 miles away. Both camps have been very vocal about the design of the course, but it’s evenly split on whether it should become nine or remain 18.”

Roxanne Giles Smith, President of the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy, talks about upgrades to Bobby Jones Golf Course.

If the nine-hole course is chosen, it would be only one of a handful of “reversible courses” in the country, Elgison said. Golfers would play the first nine holes, then would turn around and play the course in reverse. The innovative design would allow for a different experience playing in each direction, he said. Elgison said demand for the driving range would also generate funding for the golf course.

Over at the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center, a below-grade parking deck would be installed, which would be  invisible from Northside Drive. The two-level space would have room for 400 cars and its rooftop would have  space for six additional tennis courts. The entrance to the park would also be moved closer to the tennis center and a traffic light installed for safer access.

On the opposite side of Northside Drive where the playgrounds and passive greenspace is located, there’s also a plan to add more greenery, move play areas out of the floodplain and install new walking trails. Smith said the Georgia Department of Transportation had announced accelerated plans to replace and raise the bridge over Peachtree Creek in the next three years. Smith said they had requested input into the design and materials to be used for the bridge with the GDOT. She said the conservancy would not insert itself into how the new bridge will affect access to Woodward Way and Sagamore Drive.

Smith said the the nonprofit Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy would be going after state, federal and other municipal dollars to help implement the renovations, as well as seeking donations from individuals and foundations. She said a capital fundraising campaign will kick off this month.

For more about the conservancy, visit

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.