Originally created 04/10/98

Project supports building



When Ross Snellings talks golf this week, the discussion assuredly will include a project dear to his heart -- restoration of the old Forrest Hills Golf House.

With thousands of golf enthusiasts converging on Augusta for the Masters Tournament, Mr. Snellings sees this as the perfect opportunity to drum up financial support to restore the clubhouse.

Mr. Snellings, a local real estate broker, is leading the effort to save the structure because of its connection to Bobby Jones.

The clubhouse was a center of activity when the golf legend won the Southeastern Open at Forrest Hills in April 1930 before going on to win the Grand Slam.

"Bobby Jones has meant so much to Augusta," he said. "It would be a shame not to save the clubhouse as a legacy to him."

It is expected to cost about $500,000 to restore the structure, built in 1926.

Brochures telling the history of the clubhouse and word of mouth are the main advertising efforts Mr. Snellings now has in place.

The brochures feature pictures of the club house in its original state and historic photos of Bobby Jones playing on the course.

Mr. Snellings had planned to throw a party at the clubhouse this week but decided most visitors would probably be too busy with other plans.

Therefore, he's offering private tours to anyone interested in taking a step back in time.

"We're hoping to attract a corporate sponsor interested in lending their name to this effort," he said. "Whoever sponsors it will be able to attach their name to the project. They can get some public relations benefit in exchange for financing it."

Mr. Snellings is hoping that a feeling of nostalgia will overtake potential sponsors who see the original brick floors that still show the metal spike marks from the shoes of early golfers.

A slab of cement was taken up to reveal the original brick floor and fake paneling was removed from the original heart pine walls.

"We want to uncover as much as possible to show what the building was like in one room," he said.

Another supporter of the restoration effort, George D. Bush, a local attorney, has personal reasons for wanting to save the Golf House.

His grandfather, William Eve Bush, founded the Forrest Hills-Ricker Hotel and was largely responsible for generating investments for the facility, he said.

"There's a legacy involved," Mr. Bush said. "This is a piece of time that needs to be preserved. ... It's about the community itself. It should not turn its head on something that was so significant to the glory days of Bobby Jones. There's something there that needs to be saved and we're going to fight for it."

Once restored, the clubhouse will be used by the Augusta State University men's and women's golf teams and will include a trophy room and exhibit of Bobby Jones Grand Slam victory.

For more information, Mr. Snellings can be reached at (706) 733-4205 or (706) 294-6454.