Macon’s Bowden Golf Course is now on the Georgia Register of Historic Places, and its nomination for the National Register of Historic Places has been submitted to the National Park Service.
A nomination to the state register, sponsored by Macon-Bibb County Government and the Macon Golf for Kids program, was submitted in June 2014. That was approved in August and sent on to the National Register in January, said Lynn Speno, National Register specialist in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Historic Preservation Division.
“We should hear something about the listing in early March,” she said via email.
Bowden Golf Course, at 3111 Millerfield Road, is owned by Macon-Bibb government. An effort to get its historic designation has been underway for some time in hopes of receiving the national listing by the course’s 75th anniversary Sept. 29, Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said.
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Listing on the state and national registers doesn’t impose any restrictions on the property’s use, Speno said. A state fact sheet she provided says listing can open opportunities for preservation grants and tax credits, but it doesn’t require specific preservation unless owners seek tax credits for the sites.
The 18-hole, 229-acre course was laid out in 1938 on the former Miller Field airport, according to the nomination.
It was designed by John “Dick” Cotton, a Macon golfer and businessman, who with other local golfers asked for a public course after Lakeside Course closed in the mid-1930s, the nomination narrative says.
“The mayor of Macon, Charles Bowden, agreed to assist in any way, except financially,” it says. “The city had no money during the Great Depression to build golf courses.”
The course opened in 1940, built with help from the federal Works Progress Administration, but benches and a pump house are the only structures that still date from that time. The other buildings were built in 1974, but the course’s overall design remains unchanged, the nomination narrative says.
One reason for its significance is that in 1961 Bowden became the first Macon public facility to integrate, a year before city buses did, according to the nomination.
The course has long required annual subsidies from local government. The current budget allocates about $420,000 to subsidize Bowden.
The special purpose local option sales tax approved in 2011 included $600,000 for improvements to the course, mostly for a new irrigation system.
In 2014, Macon-Bibb Commissioner Al Tillman urged selling the course.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.