Bowden Golf Could Make National Register | News
Much like Jackie Robinson became a pioneer for baseball, Bowden Golf Course led the way for golf and for Macon.
"It was integrated even before the lunch counters here," says Marryel Battin. "There were about 5,200 courses in the U.S. and only about 20, less than 20, were open to African-Americans."
Desegregating the course in 1961 led to even more opportunities for African-American golfers.
Battin says, "Lee Elder was one of the early people who played in what was known as the New Era Tournament, which was a local tournament here, and he was the first African-American to play at the Masters in 1975."
Now, the city of Macon wants to share Bowden's past with future generations by adding it to the National Register of Historic Places.
"We feel like it just puts another component of Macon on the map in terms of it's historical significance, in this case, it happens to be a golf course," says Sam MacFie, who applied for Bowden's national recognition.
The Department of Natural Resources says Bowden meets all the requirements for the national recognition. For the next step, a review panel will come to Bowden and take a first-hand look, but because of a high number of applicants and short staffing, that won't happen until 2014.
One place they're likely to look is hole 10. It's a par 5, but with a story nothing short of a hole in one for Macon's history books.
"The first and tenth holes were the original runways, then they sublet it to Young Stribling who operated a flying school here. Amelia Earhart landed here, and when Miller Airfield was opened, it was the only other airfield in Georgia besides Atlanta," explains Battin.
Some say becoming part of the National Register would help the city preserve Bowden's legacy, and maybe draw in more golfers who could start their own stories there.