Ask Brad: Augusta's good neighbor

What's it like being the course next door?
Augusta country Club rebuilt and moved its 9th hole after selling land to its neighbor, Augusta National.

GolfPass member Don writes,

"Dear Brad, I can't believe there's another course literally right next door to Augusta National. What has Augusta Country Club's relationship been like with the National members over the years? Is the course any good and, more importantly, can I get on?"

Here’s an example of the ultimate good neighbor. If Augusta Country Club were located anywhere else in the U.S. it would be even more highly esteemed than it is. As it is, ACC has made several top-100 lists and is considered among golf’s most elegant embodiment of gracious southern charm.

A lot of folks outside of Georgia might not even know it exists, much less that membership is coveted. The club shares some members with its eminent next door neighbor, famed Augusta National Golf Club. In fact, they share a little running body of water called Rae’s Creek that laps alongside ACC’s 8th and 9th holes and along Amen Corner, holes 11-12-13, of the course that is home to The Masters.

ACC is a stirring example of classic-era architecture, thanks to a vintage Donald Ross design from 1928 that has been restored with verve by Brian Silva. It now stands out on its own as an exemplar of some of Ross’ most sharply honed putting surfaces. Any doubt as the authenticity of these unique greens – most of them with squared-off fronts – is dispelled by looking at the original design sketches done by Ross that now hang in the hallway by the pro shop.

Along with Ross’ design for what’s called the Hill Course there was another layout by Seth Raynor, called the Lake Course that ran out on a parcel to the east of the club’s present grounds. The Great Depression took its toll on ACC, however, and that land was sold off for real estate development.

The club’s 165-acre site features an elegant Plantation-style clubhouse, 55,000 square feet large. The site offers ideal rolling terrain, with 124-feet of elevation change. It’s an out-and-back routing, with pristine Zorro zoysia fairways and A-1 bentgrass greens.

The proximity of ACC’s two holes to Amen Corner has led to two interesting land deals, in both cases for undisclosed terms. Fifteen years ago, ACC granted Augusta National access to a small parcel of land that became a new back tee for the par-5 13th hole. Last year came announcement that ACC sold another parcel, this one about five acres comprising most of its 9th hole. The land acquisition gave Augusta National newfound access to a corner of its property to the right of Amen Corner, including the possibility of lengthening its 13th hole. ACC, meanwhile, had enough unused interior land that it was able, in effect, to slide its 9th hole over about 60 yards to the left. Along they way the club got to relocate the green on its par-5 8th hole – a putting surface requiring a carry across Rae’s Creek.

This photo from 2010 shows Augusta Country Club's old 9th hole, which sat on land they recently sold to ANGC.

The panning and construction work was completed this past fall, with all of the work carefully coordinated between the two clubs. Good neighbors, indeed.

While ACC is a private club it does allow members of other clubs to play on a reciprocal basis only.

(Editor's note: Bradley S. Klein, senior writer for Golf Channel/GolfAdvisor.com, was a consultant to Augusta Country Club on tree management, 2013-2016.)

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Veteran golf travel, history and architecture journalist, Bradley S. Klein has written more than 1,500 feature articles on course architecture, resort travel, golf course development, golf history and the media for such other publications as Golfweek, Golf Digest, Financial Times, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. He has published seven books on golf architecture and history, including Discovering Donald Ross, winner of the USGA 2001 International Book Award. In 2015, Klein won the Donald Ross Award for lifetime achievement from the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Follow Brad on Twitter
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Ask Brad: Augusta's good neighbor