All proceeds from operations, as well as charitable donations from the club’s corporate membership, support the East Lake Foundation and its remarkable redevelopment project.
East Lake itself, a sparkling stretch of water surrounded by forestland, was originally the site of an amusement park in the 1890's. It was privately owned and its chief attractions were a swimming beach, picnic tables, hot dog-popcorn-peanut stands, and a penny arcade. There was also a real steamboat that huffed and puffed up and down the narrow confines of the lake to give sightseers a thrilling ride.
During the mid 1800's, the US was experiencing an unprecedented growth in the interest of sports. At the time, Atlanta did offer many social clubs, but there was no club organized for the purpose of promoting athletics. Led by Burton Smith, a group of 65 men formed the Atlanta Athletic Club in 1898. The club initially had no golf course, but four years after its founding, it had more than 700 members.
George Adair, the clubs president, soon realized the increased interest in golf, and in 1904 purchased the 187 acre former amusement park and lake in DeKalb county to create a country club, engaging golf architect Tom Bendelow to lay out the course, which would be called East Lake. It would be the first golf course built in the city of Atlanta.
In 1913, famed golf course architect Donald Ross completely reworked the original Bendelow course at East Lake. The remodeled course featured a routing plan that provided each nine holes to conclude at the clubhouse. Previously the original course had nine holes that finished across the pond from the clubhouse.
Until the 1960s, East Lake was part of the Atlanta Athletic Club. However, not long after the club hosted the 1963 Ryder Cup, the outlook for the area around the club began to change. The surrounding neighborhood deteriorated as the 1960s fell victim to white flight and urban decay. The AAC became part of that flight when it sold the number 2 course and moved to its present home in Duluth. The original course and clubhouse were saved when a group of 25 members purchased them and began the operations as the newly formed East Lake Country Club in 1968.
In 1970, the East Lake Meadows public housing project was built on the site of the clubs numbers 2 course, and became a center for poverty, drugs and violence. Middle income homeowners fled the surrounding area, replaced by low income renters. By the 1980s, once proud East Lake was a tired, mostly forgotten golf course, seemingly as hopeless as the surrounding neighborhood.
This all changed in 1993 when an Atlanta businessman, philanthropist and golf enthusiast Mr. Tom Cousins, purchased East Lake Country Club and donated it to the CF Foundation with two conditions. First, the legendary course and clubhouse would be renovated to its original glory in honor of Bobby Jones, Charlie Yates and other golf champions who called East Lake their home course. Second, those profits from the operation of the club would go to the East Lake Foundation to be used for the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood.
Golf course architect Rees Jones was hired to restore Donald Ross' original golf course layout, which had been altered over the years. Atlanta architect Frank Bull was hired to bring the Tudor clubhouse back to its earlier splendor.
Notable Hosted Events at East Lake Golf ClubThe TOUR Championship (PGA TOUR)
1998- Hal Sutton
2000- Phil Mickelson
2002- Vijay Singh
2004- Retief Goosen
2005- Bart Bryant
2006- Adam Scott
2007- Tiger Woods
2008- Camilo Villegas
2009- Phil Mickelson
2010- Jim Furyk
2011- Bill Haas
2012- Brandt Snedeker
2013- Henrik Stenson
2014- Billy Horschel
2015- Jordan Speith
2016- Rory MacIlroy
2017- Xander Schauffele
East Lake Golf Club was named the permanent home of The TOUR Championship in 2005. The TOUR Championship is the culminating event of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. Only 30 players qualify for the event each year.
U.S. Amateur Championship
2001- Bubba Dickerson
The Ryder Cup
1963- American Team: Captain: Arnold Palmer. Team Members: Julius Boros, Gene Littler, Billy Maxwell, Dow Finsterwald, Dave Ragan Jr., Johnny Pott, Billy Casper, Bob Goalby, and Tony Lema
U.S. Women's Amateur Championship
1950- Beverly Hanson
1919- Jim Barnes
1920- Douglas Edgar
1927- Bobby Jones
1907- Nelson Whitney
1910- F.G. Byrd
1915- Charles Dexter
1922- Bobby Jones
1933- Jack Redmond
2002- Lee Williams
The East Lake Cup
Women's Champion: Stanford University
Men's Champion: University of Illinois
Women's Champion: Duke University
Men's Team Champion: University of Illinois
Women's Champion: University of Southern California
Men's Champion: Vanderbilt University