131. East Lake Golf Club
Donald Ross (1915) / Rees Jones (2015)
Tom Bendelow actually laid out the original course at East Lake, back when it was known as Atlanta Athletic Club, and that was the layout upon which Stewart Maiden taught the game to the now-legendary Bobby Jones. Donald Ross basically built a new course on the same spot in 1915, which remained untouched until changes were made before the 1963 Ryder Cup. When Atlanta Athletic moved to the suburbs in the late 1960s, the downtown East Lake location fell on hard financial times until being rescued in the 1990s by businessman Tom Cousins, who made it a sterling fusion of corporate and inner-city involvement. In the past two decades, Rees Jones has redesigned most holes, and after the PGA Tour reversed the nines for the 2016 Tour Championship (flipping the unpopular par-3 finish into the ninth hole), the club made the new routing permanent for regular play.
100 Greatest History: Ranked on America's 100 Greatest, 1966 through 1968; 1997 through 2012. Ranked on America's Second 100 Greatest: 2013 through current. Highest ranking: No. 60 (2001-2002). Previous ranking: 119
Panelist comments, East Lake Golf Club:
"East Lake does an incredible job of making golfers feel as if they're walking onto hallowed grounds. The clubhouse is a museum of Bobby Jones' golf and the accompanying historical era, displaying articles and replica trophys from Bobby Jones, worth spending a chunk of time to view and read about. Ambience scores highly. The history of East Lake is very rich."
"Standout holes include the island green 15th, the uphill & dogleg right par 5th sixth hole, the downhill and dogleg right par 5 14th, and the 9th hole a long downhill par 3 that fronts the clubhouse."
"The course has a lot of gradual elevation changes; not hills, but more like long ramps. And the greens are subtle when you first look at them in terms of contours and breaks but very difficult; putts were pretty true with a lot of break at the end of rolls. The course was very fair I felt, everything in front of you. Tight fairways and penalizing rough was the largest defense."
"The fairways are a Zoysia strain which allows the ball to sit up like on a tee and ball striking is highly rewarded because the greens are quite receptive to well-hit shots. However, the rough, which in late May is starting to get dense and thick, is penal and puts a premium on tee shot accuracy."
"The first six holes were just kind of boring, stern tests. And then it gets interesting and opens up after the seventh hole."