First impressions have been deceiving at Forest Hills Golf Club. Upon driving into the nondescript parking lot, visitors would never know a well-conditioned 1926 Donald Ross-designed public golf course lay on the other side of the clubhouse.
That is no longer the case. On a cold and rainy Thursday, a ribbon cutting was held to show off an enhancement to the entryway to the course and some renovations to the clubhouse. Among those turning out for the dedication were Mayor Deke Copenhaver and Dr. Ricardo Azziz, the president of Georgia Regents University, which owns Forest Hills Golf Club.
“This was a great project for us,” Augusta State men’s golf coach Kevin McPherson said. “Darren Davenport (the club’s golf course superintendent) has done such a great job with the golf course and I think this was one of the big missing pieces to this overall facility.”
The project, which was completed in mid-March, features enhancements such as repaving of the club’s south and east parking lots, which are dotted by landscaped islands, and a second entrance.
Minor renovation work was done on the 20-year-old clubhouse, including a porte cochere, or porch-like structure which cars can pass under, which will serve as a bag drop.
“It had been more or less a blank, blah entryway into what we consider a nice building and facility. From that point on, we didn’t like what we saw. It was not inviting, it was not something that people would like to drive up to all the time,” said Don Grantham, the chairman of the 16-man management committee of the Augusta Golf Association, which manages the course along with Georgia Regents University.
“It is awesome. We like to think this is one of the most inviting entrances into a golf facility within our whole region,” Grantham said. “We are very excited about that.”
Work was completed in time for last month’s Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate, this week’s Augusta State Invitational (which starts Saturday) and, of course, next week’s Masters Tournament.
“We’re ready to show it off,” McPherson said.
Georgia Regents University paid for the project, which Grantham estimated costing between $300,000 and $350,000.
Azziz liked what he saw Thursday.
“This is something we should be very proud of,” he said. “I know our university community is and I know our community in general is as well. GRU is very fortunate to have great golf and a great course and we are very thankful for your work, you traditions and for your history, creating this tremendous asset for our university, for our students and for our community,” Azziz said.
“The enhancements and renovations really sets the golf course to the true nature of what it needs to be presented as for the university and for the community,” said Robert Zeygan, the COO for foundations at GRU and a member of the Forest Hills management committee.
Count Copenhaver among those impressed.
“We celebrate this investment in this historic club,” he said. “Obviously, golf is in the DNA of Augusta. We’ve got a little tournament coming up here next week. To see the improvements here is truly amazing.”