How Can I Play East Lake Golf Club?

The historic course and permanent host of the Tour Championship is available to those with deep pockets

East Lake Golf Club Clubhouse
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Established in 1904, the iconic East Lake Golf Club is Atlanta’s oldest course and renowned as the home course of the legendary Bobby Jones.

The course has hosted many prestigious tournaments over the years, including the 1963 Ryder Cup and 2001 US Amateur. However, in 1998 it hosted the Tour Championship for the first time, and has since established itself as the tournament’s permanent home, having held it every year since 2004.

The course is situated among rolling hills, belying its urban surroundings, and it’s the city that forms an integral part of the East Lake’s ongoing importance to the area. After the original course opened in 1908, designer Donald Ross stepped in to renovate it five years later. The Scot designed a second course on the site that opened in 1930, but it was on his original course where the USA thrashed Great Britain and Ireland to win the 1963 Ryder Cup.

The ninth hole at East Lake Golf Club

(Image credit: Getty Images)

That was as good as it got for the course for some time, as the urban area surrounding it fell into decline. After the second course was developed for housing in the 1970s, the area’s fortunes – and the original course - suffered further. Finally, property developer Tom Cousins stepped in to breathe life into the course and surrounding area. 

In 1994, Ross’s original design was used as the blueprint to redesign the course – a task entrusted to Rees Jones. Today, as well as being a top-quality course, East Lake continues to help revitalise a previously troubled area largely thanks to the East Lake Community Foundation, which benefits from all the profits the club makes.  

As for the course itself, players can expect immaculate, tree-lined fairways and greens on gently rolling hills. There are large bunkers both on the fairways and guarding greens, while water is also a consideration, including on the signature sixth, a par-3 167-yard effort requiring a tee shot downhill to a green with water to the left, right and in front. If that’s not difficult enough, there’s also a bunker at the front left of the green to give players of any ability plenty to think about.

The sixth hole at East Lake Golf Club

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In general, players should prepare themselves for a fairly relentless experience, with long holes, wind considerations and the water and bunkers to consider almost from start to finish.

The course is private, so deep pockets or knowing a member are required to play it. In 2018, it was reported that initiation fees were $125,000, with a further $200,000 donation to the East Lake Community Foundation the suggestion. Contact details are on the club’s official website.

Is East Lake A Private Club?

East Lake is a private course located around five miles east of downtown Atlanta. Initiation fees were reportedly around $125,000 in 2018, with a suggested $200,000 to the East Lake Community Foundation.

Who Owns East Lake Golf Club?

Property developer Tom Cousins purchased the club in 1993 and set about radically changing both its fortunes the deprived surrounding neighbourhood. Eventually, it was restored as a tribute to Bobby Jones and today, profits from the club go to the East Lake Community Foundation.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.