East Lake Golf Club

East Lake Golf Club is a private golf club 5 miles east of downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Established in 1904, it is the oldest golf course in the city.[3] East Lake was the home course of golfer Bobby Jones and much of its clubhouse serves as a tribute to his accomplishments.

East Lake Golf Club
East Lake Golf Club 2017.jpg
Club information
Total holes18
Events hostedThe Tour Championship
Ryder Cup (1963)
U.S. Amateur
East Lake Golf Course
Designed byTom Bendelow (1908)
Donald Ross (1913)
George Cobb (1959 renovation)
Rees Jones (1995 & 2008 renovation)
Length7,346 yards (6,717 m)
Course rating76.2[2]
Slope rating144[2]
Course record60 – Zach Johnson (2007)

Since 2004, East Lake has been the permanent home of The Tour Championship, the culminating event of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup.[1] The Tour Championship was first played at the course in 1998. The reigning Tour Championship and FedEx Cup champion is Rory McIlroy.

All proceeds from operations at East Lake Golf Club—more than $20 million to date[3]—go to support the East Lake Foundation, which has helped transform one of the nation's worst public housing projects into a thriving community.[4]


Early yearsEdit

Old postcard of the course at East Lake.

The Atlanta Athletic Club (AAC) was formed in 1898 and due to its popularity it gained 700 members in only four years. The director of the club's athletic program was John Heisman, the famous football coach for whom the Heisman Trophy is named. In 1904 the AAC bought property at East Lake to build a country club which included a golf course. Course architect Tom Bendelow was asked to lay out the course.

Bobby Jones age 9 shown playing golf at his home course at East Lake.

The course's first holes were built in 1906 and were initially only seven holes, then nine. In the summer of 1907, the course was expanded to 17 holes, and later that year the 18th hole was built to complete it. Also in 1907, the first significant tournament was hosted at East Lake, the Southern Amateur, won by Nelson Whitney. In 1908, Tom Bendelow opened his "No. 2" course at East Lake.

In 1913, famed golf course architect Donald Ross redesigned the course at East Lake. The new plan provided for each of the nine holes to conclude at the clubhouse. Ross also redesigned the No. 2 course in 1928.

A tragic fire destroyed the original clubhouse at East Lake in 1925. Following the fire, famed architect Philip Shutze, who is known for constructing the famous Swan House in Buckhead, was hired by the club to build East Lake's present day two-story Tudor style clubhouse.

Stewart Maiden golfing at East Lake

Golfer Bobby Jones is said to have played his first and last games of golf at East Lake.[5] Jones won golf's Grand Slam in 1930, claiming the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open, British Amateur and British Open titles in the same year. Jones's father, "Colonel" Robert P. Jones, served as the president of East Lake from 1937–42 and as a director for 38 years. Bobby Jones himself also served as president of East Lake from 1946–47.

Other notable East Lake players around the same time were amateurs Watts Gunn, Perry Adair, Charlie Yates and Alexa Stirling Fraser many of whom were assisted by East Lake's golf professional Stewart Maiden.

In 1963, East Lake hosted the 15th biennial Ryder Cup where Arnold Palmer served as the playing captain of the winning US Team.


East Lake began a downward slope when the surrounding neighborhood deteriorated in the 1960s and became victim to suburban flight. The Atlanta Athletic Club became a part of this when it sold the No. 2 course to developers and moved to its current home in Johns Creek. The original course and clubhouse were saved by a group of 25 members, led by Atlanta businessman Paul Grigsby, who purchased them and created East Lake Country Club in 1968.

In 1970, the East Lake Meadows public housing project was built on the site of the No. 2 golf course and became a center for poverty, drugs and violence. Middle-income homeowners fled the surrounding neighborhood, replaced by low-income renters. By the 1980s, East Lake became a mostly forgotten golf course in a seemingly hopeless neighborhood.[citation needed]

This all changed in 1993 when a local charitable foundation headed by Tom Cousins purchased East Lake with the intent to restore it as a tribute to Bobby Jones and the club's other great amateur golfers. The East Lake Foundation was also created and has used the renovation as a catalyst for revitalizing the surrounding community.

In 1994, Rees Jones, son of golf course architect Robert Trent Jones,[6] restored Donald Ross' original golf course design at East Lake to its current layout.

In 1998 the Tour Championship was hosted at East Lake for the first time. In 2005 East Lake was named the permanent home of the Tour Championship. East Lake has hosted the tournament 16 times since 1998.


Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson on the 17th Green during the 2015 Tour Championship

Golf with a PurposeEdit

All of the profits from East Lake Golf Club go to support the East Lake Foundation which in turn helps to support the health, education, safety and productivity of the East Lake neighborhood.[7] Because of this, East Lake Golf Club's motto is "Golf with a Purpose".

Based on the success of the East Lake model, a new organization, Purpose Built Communities, was established in 2009 to help fight concentrated segments of poverty in communities throughout the United States. Today, Purpose Built Communities is present in 14 cities in the US.[8]

Charlie Yates Golf CourseEdit

In 1998 East Lake's No. 2 golf course was transformed into the Charlie Yates Golf Course, a 9-hole "executive" public course that provides golf education to children living in the city of Atlanta.[9] The course was rated one of the top 10 short range courses in America by Golf Range Magazine and all profits from the course go to benefit the East Lake Foundation.[10]

Charlie Yates was an East Lake golfer who won the British Amateur at Royal Troon Golf Club in 1938. Charlie grew up on Second Avenue, the street which separated East Lake's main course from its No. 2 course. His boyhood hero was Bobby Jones, whom he knew and played with on the course at East Lake.

The Tour ChampionshipEdit

East Lake Golf Club is home to the Tour Championship

Since 2004 East Lake Golf Club has been the permanent location of the Tour Championship, the finale of the PGA Tour Playoffs and the FedEx Cup. The Tour Championship is also one of the largest supporters of the East Lake Foundation.

East Lake CupEdit

In May 2015 it was announced that East Lake would be the site of a new collegiate golf tournament, the East Lake Cup. In partnership with the Golf Channel the East Lake Cup invites the top men's and women's teams from the previous season to compete in a match play championship each November. The tournament is broadcast on the Golf Channel. The inaugural East Lake Cup was played November 2 and 3, 2015. The champions of the first year's tournament were Illinois (men's) and USC (women's).[11]

The 2016 the tournament added a day of stroke play to the competition with Illinois winning on the men's side and Duke winning on the women's side. The men's and women's winners of the 2017 East Lake Cup were respectively Vanderbilt University and the University of Southern California. The 2018 winner's were Auburn for the men's side and USC on the women's side.


Course recordsEdit

  • Par 70Zach Johnson, 60 (−10) on September 15, 2007, at the Tour Championship, set at 7,154 yards (6,542 m).
  • Par 72 – Robert "Bullet" Godfrey, 63 (−9) on August 20, 2001 at the U.S. Amateur after bogeying the final two holes. The course's length was 7,267 yards (6,645 m).


East Lake Golf Club
Tee Rating/Slope 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Total
Black 74.0/137 469 197 391 479 442 525 481 455 235 3674 424 214 389 440 520 211 454 430 590 3672 7346
Blue 72.2/132 465 170 369 366 403 471 418 373 207 3242 394 164 372 387 526 150 365 322 530 3210 6452
Green 69.1/125 421 147 345 317 399 456 397 332 167 2981 394 140 325 350 475 130 333 304 455 2906 5887
Gold 66.4/121 415 136 319 317 365 414 371 267 110 2714 329 105 247 342 383 94 288 255 448 2491 5205
Par 4 3 4 4 4 5 4 4 3 35 4 3 4 4 4 3 4 4 5 35 70
SI 6 18 14 12 4 10 2 8 16 7 17 11 3 9 15 1 13 5


Tournaments hostedEdit

East Lake has hosted many prestigious tournaments including:

  • East Lake Cup


  1. ^ a b "About the club". Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Course Rating and Slope Database – East Lake Golf Club". USGA. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "East Lake Golf Club". Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  4. ^ "Who We Are". East Lake Foundation. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  5. ^ Hopkins, Linton C. (1996). Where Bobby Learned to Play. McGuire Publishing. ISBN 978-0962838118.
  6. ^ "About Rees Jones – Biography". Rees Jones, Inc. Golf Course Design. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  7. ^ "The East Lake Story - Community Redevelopment - Atlanta, Georgia". East Lake Foundation. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  8. ^ "Our Network". Purpose Built Communities.
  9. ^ "About". Archived from the original on October 20, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  10. ^ "East Lake Partners - Community Redevelopment - Atlanta, Georgia". East Lake Foundation. Archived from the original on April 2, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  11. ^ a b "Eyes on NCAAs after Illinois, USC win East Lake Cup - Golf Channel".
  12. ^ "Golf Course Information". East Lake Golf Club. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  13. ^ "East Lake Cup". East Lake Golf Club.
  14. ^ "Duke, Illinois take East Lake Cup titles". Golf Channel. Archived from the original on December 3, 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  15. ^ "East Lake Cup". Golf Channel.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 33°44′35″N 84°18′11″W / 33.743°N 84.303°W / 33.743; -84.303