Frequent players at Chastain Park golf course say it has mostly improved since the city took over operation of all public golf courses four months ago.
“I think they’re working harder to make the course nicer,” said Reagan Sutherland, who said she plays at the course every day.
The city of Atlanta has been running the four public golf courses since November 2016, after the private company previously running them did not renew its contract.
The transition was rocky at times, players said, but the quality of the course at Buckhead’s Chastain Park, previously known as the North Fulton Golf Course, has improved.
During the transition, players in the North Fulton Women’s Golf Association had to remove their belongings from the lockers, as it was thought the golf company, American Golf Corporation, would take them in the transition, but they ended up leaving them behind.
“That created some confusion, but that’s part of the process,” Sandy Pardue, the president of the golf association said.
She also said employees at the course seem to be more customer-service oriented since the city took over. Some parts of the course were not maintained as well as they could have been under the previous company, Pardue said, but city officials are planning renovations to the course and have talked about purchasing new equipment, such as golf carts. “Everything we’ve seen has been positive,” she said.
“The city came into bare bones,” Pardue said, and has done well at furnishing the course again.
The city sent a statement outlining details about the transition, but wouldn’t provide details on the cost of the city taking over the management of the courses. Atlanta Public Golf Conservancy trustee Whitney Crouse told the city when the city was considering managing the golf courses that it would cost $1 million to equip the courses, Reporter Newspapers previously reported.
“The biggest difference is the course is in better shape,” Susan Jones, another patron at the course said. “It could be because of the early spring, but it does look better this year than in the past.”
“I think there are some things they could do to make it look a little better and make playing here nicer,” said a player who would not provide his name. “They haven’t been doing it that long but I think it’s going well so far.”
According to a statement provided by a city spokesperson, the city hired 50 former American Golf employees that were going to be laid off by the company. They also hired five people to manage the daily operations of the course.
People have also been playing at the courses more frequently, according to the city. The average total number of rounds of golf played across all courses has increased by 28 percent since the city took over the management of the courses.
The city introduced a program that makes playing cheaper for frequent players. For $30 a month, players can buy a Fore Pass that works at all the golf courses. Players will save money if they play more than three games in a month, Pardue said.
District 8 City Councilmember Yolanda Adrean, who represents the area where the course is located, said she believes the city’s management of the courses should be only temporary and the city should continue looking for another manager.
“They have the expertise and the equipment,” she said.
American Golf chose not to renew their contract after the Bobby Jones golf course was given to the state. That course will soon be renovated to have a reversible nine-hole course and a building that will house the course clubhouse, several golf associations and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. The change meant the profitable Bobby Jones course was no longer part of the city’s contract with American Golf.
The city twice rejected a $15 million bid for management of the courses from the nonprofit Atlanta Public Golf Conservancy. City officials didn’t say why they rejected the bid.