A local group wants to change the image of golf from being "a rich man's game" to being a sport any child can learn, regardless of financial status.
Fore! Augusta, the nonprofit fund-raising foundation for the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, will begin breaking ground within the next 60 days on The First Tee project.
The project will make golf accessible to Augusta children who ordinarily have no exposure to the sport.
"Golf started as a rich man's game," said Paul S. Simon, chairman of Fore! Augusta. "We want to try to encourage younger people to learn the game, particularly those who can't afford it."
Augusta commissioners last month, approved leasing 40 acres on Damascus Road, near Augusta's new aquatics center, to the foundation for $1 a year. The lease will expire in 20 years but has two 10-year options to renew.
The Foundation had hoped to break ground this week, but final paperwork with the city is just being completed, Mr. Simon said.
The foundation is raising money to build and operate First Tee. Officials estimate it will cost
$750,000 to $1 million and are hop
ing most of the equipment and supplies will be donated, Mr. Simon said.
The First Tee organization will donate $100,000 and is providing engineer and architectural services as well as golf balls, clubs and gloves.
The national organization started about 1 1/2 years ago and is organized by World Golf Foundation.
Mr. Simon said his organization is a local chapter of the national group.
When the local project is complete, the five-hole golf course will include a teaching facility, driving range and putting green.
A nine-hole putting area will be built at the future Golf Hall of Fame, which will be located on Reynolds Street.
"Adults may be able to play on the course when children are in school, but they will have to pay a fee," Mr. Simon said. "Our aim is toward middle schoolers."
Faith Johnson can be reached at 823-3765.