No, it wasn’t an ice storm.
About 100 trees were recently removed from Augusta Municipal Golf Course in an effort to create a safer flight path toward neighboring Daniel Field Airport. According to Ira A. Miller, the general manager at Augusta Municipal, the Federal Aviation Administration paid for the tree removal in hope of assisting pilots with night vision.
“This course is about to play a lot different,” Miller said. “Especially Nos. 14 and 15.”
Last week, golf teams from Aquinas , Thomson and Westside high schools competed at Augusta Municipal, more commonly known as “The Patch.”
Dozens of pine trees were on the ground near the No. 14 green; the same with cedar trees near the front parking lot. At Nos. 14 and 15, more than 30 pine trees were removed.
“Our pine trees were getting too high, and it was creating a problem with pilots and their night vision,” Miller said. “It’s hard to believe what our course looks like now. I can’t believe how open it is.”
Within a 24-hour period, a construction company sawed about 100 trees. Now, it is in the process of removing stumps, limbs and shrubbery before Masters Week.
Membership numbers at The Patch continue to rise. As of Tuesday, there were 99 members, an increase from 82 in March 2016. In March 2014, there were 35.
“I’d like to get about 100 more,” Miller said, laughing. “But, hey, we’re getting there. I’m very proud of how far we’ve come.”
Cypress Golf Management was put in charge of improving the course on July 1, 2014, and its improvement strategy was to start from the greens and work toward each tee box. Since then, each of the 18 greens has been upgraded.
Miller said he hopes that all 18 tee boxes will be redone this year.
“This course has improved so much in the past three years – especially our greens,” he said.
Before Cypress was hired in 2014, the course had operated at a significant loss for several years. The Augusta Commission outsourced it in 2012 to a Scottish businessman who abandoned the lease after a few months and left employees unpaid, according to The Augusta Chronicle archives.
Twice after that, negotiations fell through with a pair of management companies.
Now, The Patch is considered home to nearly 100 members, in addition to public schools in Richmond County. This season, Westside, Richmond Academy, Laney, A.R. Johnson and Davidson Magnet high schools all practice at Augusta Municipal, Miller said.
M iddle schools also practice at The Patch, including Murphey, Sego, Tutt, Langford, Davidson, Pine Hill, Walker, Hephzibah and Glenn Hills.
“This is a public course,” Miller said. “So we want the public to be able to play.”
Augusta Municipal will be open for play during Masters Week and still has tee times available. During Masters Week, local residents can play the course for $35, and out-of-towners will be charged $50.
Reach Doug Stutsman at (706) 823-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.