Golf fans are eagerly anticipating the start of the 93rd PGA Championship, set to tee off at the historic Atlanta Athletic Club on Thursday, Aug. 11. The PGA Championship is the final golf major of the year, and the tournament has found a decidedly historic and picturesque venue to close out the major golf calendar.
Here are some of the most pivotal moments and things to know in the long and storied history of the Atlanta Athletic Club:
1. Foundation of Club and Heisman Connection
When the Atlanta Athletic Club was founded in 1898, it was located in Atlanta, not in its present day suburban Johns Creek location. The first main expansion took place in 1904, when a golf course was built in East Lake. The first major development in the growth of the historic club, however, occurred in 1908, when the legendary John Heisman (namesake of the Heisman trophy) was hired as the Athletic Director of the Atlanta Athletic Club.
2. Atlanta Athletic Club Moves
In 1967, the Athletic Club moved from its former location in Atlanta to a more suburban locale, enabling the club to undergo a massive expansion. Prior to the expansion, the old East Lake course began to host tournaments for the burgeoning PGA, including the 1963 Ryder Cup. The move to the current location in Johns Creek also allowed the Athletic Club to move beyond just golf courses and offer members a wide-range of amenities.
3. Host to the 1976 U.S. Open
Although the East Lake course had hosted Ryder Cup matches and the 1950 U.S. Women's Amateur, it was in 1976 that current Highlands Course hosted its first major. The course played particularly tough, with only three players breaking par. Jerry Pate took home the title, beating runner-up Al Geiberger by two strokes.
4. Club Hosts Two PGA Championships
The Athletic Club hosted its first PGA Championship in 1981, when Larry Nelson easily defeated Fuzzy Zoeller by four strokes, completing the tournament at 7-under par. The PGA Championship returned to the Club again in 2001, when David Toms survived Sunday to take the championship over Phil Mickelson by one stroke.
5. Use of the Club in Media
The age and splendor of the course have led it to be used in a number of golf films. Among these is the 2004 movie "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius," which shot extensively at the course. The use of the Athletic Club as a shooting location was all the more poignant given the fact that Jones had been a member of the club himself.
A golf fan for over 25 years, I find writing about golf an enjoyable (though by no means complete) replacement for playing it.