GSGA History - Through the Years

The Georgia State Golf Association is the governing body of golf in Georgia and serves as an Allied Golf Association to the United States Golf Association. Founded in 1916, the GSGA has a storied history beginning with Bobby Jones winning the inaugural Georgia Amateur Championship.


Fourteen-year-old Bobby Jones (right) won the first Georgia Amateur championship, held at Capital City Club-Brookhaven. Jones would go on to become golf’s finest amateur and set a competitive standard for all time. Following that inaugural Georgia Amateur, an organizational meeting to officially form the Georgia State Golf Association was held.

Bobby Jones at age 14.


The GSGA was incorporated, its first constitution and by-laws were published, and its first Board of Directors was elected. Lowry Arnold of Atlanta was the first president.


Robert H. Martin of Atlanta, a member of the original Board of Directors, donated the permanent trophy that would be presented annually to the Georgia Amateur champion and kept at his club for the ensuing year, a tradition that continues today.


The Amateur Championship had become so popular that it was decided to hold a qualifying round on Tuesday of tournament week, with 128 players earning a spot in the flighted championship field. John Oliver of Valdosta won that year’s Championship at Radium Springs Country Club in Albany.


In the year following his legendary “Grand Slam” and his retirement from competitive golf, Bob Jones was elected to the GSGA Board of Directors and also made an honorary vice president.


The United States Golf Association brought one of its national championships to Georgia for the first time. North Fulton Golf Course (left) in Atlanta hosted the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Michael R. Ferentz of California won the title. Since then, Georgia has hosted 28 USGA national championships.


On December 23, 1955, Alfred “Tup” Holmes, his brother, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and friends Charles T. Bell, T.D. Hawkins and E.J. Peterson played a round of golf at North Fulton Golf Course, thus legally breaking the color barrier on Atlanta’s public golf courses.

The 1948  U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at North Fulton Golf Course in Atlanta.


The Board of Directors approved an annual donation of $100 to the Tifton Research Experimental Grass Fund. This continues today, as the GSGA joins other golf and turf organizations in Georgia in providing research funding to the University of Georgia turf teams at the Athens, Griffin and Tifton stations.


The GSGA and Georgia Section PGA began a challenge match between the best amateur and professional golfers in the state. The match, originally named the GSGA-GPGA Challenge Cup, was held annually through 1987 and has been played biennially since then.


The Georgia Junior Championship was established, following considerable study and discussion by the Board of Directors. The inaugural event was played at Athens Country Club and the first champion was David Joesbury.


GSGA’s first women’s event, the Greater Atlanta Women’s Amateur Championship, was established. Dodie Brown was the inaugural winner at Atlanta’s North Fulton Golf Course and she successfully defended her title in 1971.


The first statewide handicap computation service was administered by the GSGA and offered to Member Clubs through Minimax of Dallas, Texas.


The first Georgia Four-Ball Championship took place at Spring Hill Country Club in Tifton with 40 two-man teams participating. Joe Kunes and Tommy Valentine were the inaugural champions.


The GSGA purchased its first course measuring instruments and began planning to rate courses for its Member Clubs. Floyd Doss (right) of Ft. Valley was hired as GSGA’s first executive director and full-time staff member. His first office was located in his home in Perry. Doss would hold the position until 1979.

Floyd Doss, GSGA’s first executive director.


The Junior Sectional Program began, with more than 2,000 participants during its first summer of operation. This program continues today as an entry-level competitive experience for young golfers, and it has spawned many other local competitive organizations and events around the state.


The Georgia Junior Golf Foundation was chartered. This organization, a joint venture of the GSGA and the Georgia Section PGA, today manages the Junior Golf at Schools program among other junior developmental activities. The GSGA offices relocated to Macon in August.


The GSGA and the South Carolina Golf Association began the Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Match, an annual competition believed to be the country’s first and longest-running junior interstate match. The inaugural Match took place at Houndslake Country Club in Aiken, S.C., with Georgia’s Bob Tway earning medalist honors.


The Georgia State Golf Foundation was established as the GSGA’s charitable affiliate and began granting scholarships to turfgrass students. This is now called the Moncrief Turfgrass Scholarship program, named after longtime USGA Green Section agronomist James B. “Monty” Moncrief.


The Georgia State Golf Foundation awarded its first round of scholarships to four students, including Charles “Chuck” Palmer of Lindale. Palmer is currently serving on GSGA's Executive Committee.

Allen Doyle (left) of LaGrange captured his first Georgia Amateur title at Macon’s Idle Hour Club. Doyle went on to win the Georgia Amateur a record six times (1978, ‘79, ‘82, ‘87, ‘88,’ 90) before turning professional.

Record-setting Georgia amateur golfer Allen Doye with one of his trophies.


The GSGA began to administer USGA qualifying events in Georgia, conducting five qualifiers in that first year.


The first Girls’ Championship was held concurrently with the Junior Championship at Houston Lake Country Club in Perry. The first Girls’ Champion was current LPGA player Cindy Schreyer of Newnan.


GSGA and the Florida State Women’s Golf Association formed the Georgia-Florida Women’s Team Matches, an annual match featuring the top female players from each state. Georgia hosted the inaugural event at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens.


The first Mid-Amateur Championship took place at Coosa Country Club in Rome, with Ross Johnson of the host club as the first champion.

Ross Johnson with his championship cup.


The GSGA began testing the GHIN handicap computation system, and began a four-year plan to re-rate all Member Club courses in accordance with the USGA’s new Course and Slope Rating System. The first three courses to be rated under the new system were Atlanta Athletic Club, Ansley Golf Club and Perry Country Club.

Robert Harlin of Atlanta became the Association’s first general counsel. Through his efforts, the GSGA was approved for non-profit status. Harlin would later serve as the Association’s president from 1993-94.


The naming of a Player of the Year Award was approved, in accordance with a point system that was developed. Allen Doyle of LaGrange was the first winner, and he would earn a total of seven during a career. The Board of Directors approved the concept of the committeeman level of volunteer service, as a way to encourage and review potential new members of the Board.


The Women’s Team Championship made its debut at the Sheraton Savannah Resort (now Wilmington Island Club). Sissi Gann and Lee Kaney Burton (pictured) were the first Women’s Team Champions.

Women’s Team Champions Sissi Gann and Lee Kaney Burton.


The Senior Championship was re-instituted for the first time since 1971. The winner was Johnny Skeadas. Following his passing in 1997, his family gave a trophy to the GSGA in 1998 to be awarded to the champion each year.

Johnny Skeadas’s family presents a trophy to the GSGA.

The GSGF awarded the first “Kids in Golf” scholarships. These were the forerunners to the current Yates Scholarships, for employees of GSGA Member Clubs or their dependents.

The computerized “electronic option” of handicap service was first offered to GSGA Member Clubs.


The Association’s membership magazine, Golf Georgia, made its debut, with four issues published in that year.

An early cover of Golf Georgia Magazine.


Four additional GSGA competitions were established: the Georgia Public Links Championship, Women’s Top 40 Classic (now known as the Top 60 Women's Classic), Georgia Four-Ball Tournament and Southeastern Challenge Match, a biennial men's team match between Georgia, Alabama and Florida. The Walker Cup was held at Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta, with Georgians Danny Yates and Allen Doyle being selected to the team.


The Georgia Senior Four-Ball Championship begins. GSGA’s president at the time, Andy Bargeron of Chatsworth, and Walt Fugate of Macon won the inaugural event at St. Simons Island Club.


In January the Association purchased its own headquarters building (pictured) on Village Parkway in east Cobb County.

President Andy Bargeron presented the first President’s Service Award to Billy Peters of Blakely, GSGA president from 1981-83 and Championship Committee Chairman from 1984-2002. This award was the forerunner of the Bill Todd Award, which is presented annually to a volunteer for meritorious service to the GSGA.

GSGA headquarters.


The Association dedicated its first-floor conference room as the GSGA Museum and Library, allowing for Georgia-related golf literature, historical artifacts and photography to be displayed.

The GSGA library.


The Association topped the 300 mark in Member Clubs, finishing the year with 318.


The GSGA’s website,, was launched. The site has undergone several redesigns since its initial launch, with the most recent in 2024.

The first GSGA website, launched in 1997.


GSGA introduced two new women’s competitions - the Georgia Women’s Match Play Championship and GSGA Senior Women’s Championship. Alpharetta’s Leigh Turner won the first Match Play title and McDonough’s Patsy Ehret was the inaugural Senior Women’s champion.


The Tommy Barnes Award was given to the overall GSGA Player of the Year. Bill Roberts (right), the 1998 Georgia Amateur Champion from Pine Mountain, receives the first such award from Barnes.

The GSGA began a new service called Computers For Clubs. Each GSGA Member Club with more than 100 members would be provided computer hardware in addition to the GHIN software package.

 Bill Roberts receiving the first Tommy Barnes Award.


The Walker Cup returned to Georgia, this time to Ocean Forest Golf Club on Sea Island. Atlantan Danny Yates served as the United States team captain for the biennial competition pitting male amateurs from the U.S. against a team from Great Britain and Ireland.

Danny Yates.


The GSGA introduced real-time scoring for four of its major championships via its web site. The USGA permitted golf clubs to offer their members the option of posting scores via the Internet. This is available to GSGA members at if their club has approved this posting option.


The GSGA joined with other Georgia golf organizations to fund a public relations lobby forum, the Georgia Allied Golf Council. This group monitors legislation that may affect the state’s golf industry. GSGA began providing GSGA/GHIN membership cards to individual members in the January-February issue of Golf Georgia. The GSGA implemented a Handicap Index revision e-mail option, with more than 20,000 individual members enrolling in its first year.


GSGA unveiled Online Registration via its web site for entry into its competitions. Over 70 percent of GSGA competitors used the feature during the inaugural season.

Martha Kirouac (right), GSGA’s former Executive Director and member of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, captained the U.S. Curtis Cup team to victory over Great Britain and Ireland at Formby Golf Club in England.

Martha Kirouac with the U.S. Curtis Cup.


Georgia captured its first national team title at the USGA Women’s State Team Championship. Captained by Pat Clarke of Sea Island, the team of Kyu Ri Ban of Duluth, Laura Coble of Augusta and Jean Reynolds of Newnan won by two strokes over Alabama. Coble finished second in the individual race.

GSGA introduced an online membership plan via its web site. Over 300 Georgia golfers joined GSGA through this method during its initial year.

The winning USGA Women’s State Team Champions from Georgia with their cup.


The USGA elected Walter W. Driver Jr. of Atlanta (right) as its president. Driver is the third Georgian to serve as USGA president, following Reg Murphy (1994-95) and the late Fielding Wallace (1948-49).
GSGA senior director Martha Kirouac was inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.

The inaugural Georgia-South Carolina Girls’ Junior Challenge Match took place at The Landings Club in Savannah. Modeled after the Junior Challenge Match for boys, the event features the top girls’ players from each state.


The Georgia State Golf Foundation was honored to receive a gift in excess of $1.5 million from the estate of Richard R. “Dick” Franklin (left), who served as GSGF’s president from January 2004 until his untimely death in September 2005.

The biennial GSGA-GPGA Challenge Cup was renamed the Billy Peters Cup Matches to honor the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame member and longtime volunteer for both organizations. The Billy Peters Trophy had been awarded to the match winners since 1997.

Former GSGF president Richard R. “Dick” Franklin.


GSGA past president Gene McClure was named the winner of the USGA’s 2008 Joe Dey Award, recognizing his “meritorious service to the game” as a volunteer. The award is named after the late Joseph C. Dey Jr., who served as USGA executive director for 35 years and was later the first commissioner of the PGA Tour.

Golf Georgia magazine celebrated its 20th anniversary by launching an online “virtual magazine” to complement its print edition.

The digital version of Georgia Golf magazine.

GSGA introduced a new statewide competition, the Georgia Super Senior Championship. Four-time Senior champion Spencer Sappington of Milton won the inaugural event at Atlanta’s Cherokee Town and Country Club.


Georgia won the USGA Women’s State Team Championship for the second time in five years. Captain Sissi Gann of Kathleen, Dori Carter of Valdosta, Laura Coble of Augusta and Mariah Stackhouse of Riverdale captured the title by leading wire-to-wire and posting a nine-stroke victory over the next closest team in the standings.

The Women’s State Team


The GSGA entered into an agreement with the Georgia Department of Economic Development to manage the ongoing activities associated with the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. The terms of the agreement authorize the GSGA to host the banquet to honor inductees; store memorabilia of the members of the Hall of Fame and display as available; and have right, title and interest to the trademarks, trade names and logos associated with the GGHOF.


GSGA introduced a new competition, the Georgia Senior Women's Match Play Championship. Brenda Pictor of Marietta won the inaugural event at Doublegate Country Club in Albany. The GSGF was renamed the Georgia State Golf Association Foundation, or GSGA Foundation, to more closely align itself as the charitable affiliate of the GSGA.

The Georgia Allied Golf Council hosted "Georgia Golf Day" at the Georgia State Capitol, bringing to life a 2010 economic impact study that stated golf has an annual impact of $2.4 billion in the state. Resolutions were passed in both the House and Senate, saluting golf in Georgia and its events and activities.

Georgia successfully defended its title and won its second-straight USGA Women's State Team Championship, behind the stellar play of individual medalist Rachel Dai of Suwanee, Amira Alexander of Alpharetta and Laura Coble of Augusta.

Georgia Golf Day at the Capitol.


GSGA celebrated its Centennial with the playing of the 100th Georgia Amateur Championship. This year's competition returned to match play format at Capital City Club in Atlanta, the same format and site where a 14-year-old Bobby Jones won the inaugural Georgia Amateur in 1916. A 16-year-old Colin Bowles of Albany (pictured) prevailed to win the Centennial Georgia Amateur Championship.
Atlanta Junior Golf was brought under the umbrella of the GSGA, forming a statewide Georgia Junior Golf program which provides opportunities for junior golfers to better their skills, compete in tournaments and prepare for a future in golf.


The GSGA introduced the inaugural Mixed Team Championship which was held at Savannah Quarters Country Club. It was also the first season of the GSGA Interclub Matches which had Member Clubs compete against each other throughout the year. The Georgia Junior Golf program underwent a rebrand and changed its name to the GSGA Junior Tour, providing even more opportunity for golfers of all skill levels.

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