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Highlands Fling

In anticipation of the 2011 PGA Championship, the Highlands Course at the Atlanta Athletic Club will receive a Rees Jones makeover in 2006. Every hole will be revised at least a little, with some fairways being regded and the bunkers upgraded. news services

ATLANTA -- The Highlands Course at the Atlanta Athletic Club, which will host the 2011 PGA Championship, will be renovated during 2006, with Rees Jones serving as the architect, club officials have announced. The renovation is expected to begin in March and be complete by late fall of 2006.

The Highlands Course was the site of the 1976 U.S. Open, the 1981 PGA Championship, the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in 1984, and the USGA Junior Championship in 2002. And, of course, David Toms edged Phil Mickelson in a memorable showdown there to win the 2001 PGA Championship.

"We look forward to Rees Jones enhancing the Highlands Course that has hosted so many exciting championships," said Chris Borders, general manager of the club. "His renovation of the Riverside Course received acclaim and I'm sure that he will again achieve excellent results on the Highlands Course. I am also confident that our superintendent, Ken Mangum, and the grounds crew will produce excellent playing conditions on the course."

Among the upgrades expected on the Highlands Course:

--All fairway and greenside sand bunkers will be reshaped and made deeper, with new drainage and bunker sand installed.

--The locations of all greenside bunkers will be studied in detail to promote variety and develop more challenging approach shots and hole locations. When reshaped, all greenside bunkers will be shifted closer to the adjacent putting surface.

--Fairway mowing patterns will shift closer to the edge of each renovated fairway bunker.

--All fairways to be regraded and drainage to be installed.

--All tees, collars, approaches, green surrounds that are cut at fairway height and fairways will have Diamond zoysia grass.

All of the holes will undergo some revision, although the greens will not be rebuilt. Most holes will have a new championship tee built, adding length to nearly every hole. Some water features will change, including extending the pond from No. 7 toward the front left portion of the green on No. 6. No. 7 will have the pond enlarged toward the tee by 15 to 20 feet.

The pond on No. 11 will be expanded back toward the hillside and towards the fairway. On No. 14, the pond bordering No. 11, which runs parallel to No. 14, will be expanded to come into play on the right side of the fairway.

Rees Jones began his career with Robert Trent Jones, Inc., his father's design firm. He has been president of Rees Jones, Inc., since 1974.

The Atlanta Athletic Club was founded in 1898, initially in support of indoor games at its downtown Atlanta site. It added a suburban golf course at East Lake that opened in 1908. Bobby Jones, whose father, "Colonel" Robert P. Jones, was an active club member at the time of the golf course opening, learned the game at the Atlanta Athletic Club and maintained his membership throughout his life.

Jones was instrumental in bringing the U.S. Open to the Atlanta Athletic Club in 1976, having written his invitation to host the event at the club just weeks before his death in 1971.

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