The History of Druid Hills Golf Club
In 1894, working at the height of his powers, Frederick Law Olmstead, the greatest landscape architect in American history, crafted from the rolling contours of a forest on Atlanta’s east side a new neighborhood of oak canopied streets and public parks and promenades that would become renowned for its natural beauty and historic significance. At the heart of this community, Olmstead set aside 180 pristine acres graced by three streams and tall hardwoods as the site of a future golf course that would stretch between the neo-classical campus of Emory University and the wide, park-lined boulevard of Ponce de Leon Avenue.
In 1912, the Druid Hills Golf Club opened to great acclaim and became the host site of numerous southern championships across the century that followed. In 1979, the entire neighborhood of Druid Hills earned the distinction of being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The golf course at Druid Hills was designed by Englishman H.H. Barker, winner of the Irish Open in 1906. Barker became a golf course designer after moving to the U.S. in 1908. Among his first designs was Columbia Country Club outside Washington, D.C., still one of the premier clubs in that area. Atlanta’s Capital City Club course, originally known as Brookhaven Country Club, was also a Barker design.
Among the first members of the club were many prominent Atlantans, whose names are still attached to city features, including Asa Candler, John Grant, Edward Inman, Joseph Orme, and Ernest Woodruff. Founding member C.V. Rainwater served as president of the Georgia State Golf Association from 1934 to 1936. Lowery Arnold, a member of the club’s first board of directors, served as president of the Southern Golf Association from 1930 to 1933.
Sportswriter Grantland Rice, who is closely associated with the career of Atlanta’s Bobby Jones, described the golf course at Druid Hills two months before its Grand Opening: “This course, with nature’s handy aid, requires few artificial traps. The fairways are narrow, requiring accurate work from the tee. And only a nice second will reach the green on the par four holes.” In August 1915, thirteen-year-old Bobby Jones, a junior member at Druid Hills, won the club championship, one of many tournament victories that would lead to Jones’ achievement as the only winner of golf’s Grand Slam.
Druid Hills Golf Club has always nurtured talented golfers and has a rich history of hosting numerous renowned amateur tournaments. In 1920, Druid Hills hosted the Georgia State Amateur Championship, won by club member C.V. Rainwater, who beat Bobby Jones 1-up in the semi-finals on his way to victory. Tommy Barnes, who joined the club as a junior member in 1938, won the first Dogwood Invitational in 1941, his first of five Dogwood victories. Druid Hills has also hosted both the Georgia State Championship and the Southern Amateur on numerous occasions.In 2001, Druid Hills co-hosted the United States Amateur along with East Lake Golf Club.
The golf course was extensively renovated in 2003 by famed golf course architect Bob Cupp, whose charter was to return the property to its original Golden Era design. The renovation continues to allow members and their guests to experience Druid Hill’s gracious green spaces through almost 100 years of history, friendship and family.