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New golf course open for business
Georgia Southern University senior Zac Watson of Warner Robins acknowledges a big crowd after taking the ceremonial first tee shot after the ribbon was cut on a newly renovated golf course on Golf Club Road on Thursday. The university purchased the golf course three years ago and spent $5 million on the renovation. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

     Three years of work culminated on Thursday six miles from the campus of Georgia Southern University when the ribbon was cut on the GSU-owned and student-accessible University Park golf course on the grounds of the former Southern Links.
    "This was just an opportunity, and I think that's the best way to look at it," GSU President Brooks Keel said after the ribbon cutting. "It was an opportunity to be able to pick up this golf course at a time when the price was as good as on could possibly hope for."
    Keel joked that you won't catch him on the course any time soon.
    "My handicap is off the scale," he laughed. "In fact, they prohibited me from doing anything on this golf course, especially after they got it looking so beautiful."
    The land was purchased by GSU in 2011 and the university spent $5 million on the renovation.  
   Years of sitting dormant allowed nature to take its toll on the grounds. As a result, Golf Course Director Martin Olsson said that the work wasn’t so much a renovation as a complete redesign with new holes and a par-72 course.
    For the redesign, award-winning course architect Robert Walker was selected. Walker has designed courses throughout the country, including the home track for Florida State University and Georgia courses in Albany and Elberton.
    The course will be open to the public. Fees will differ between students, faculty and staff of GSU and the public.
    "We're delighted that this is not just a Georgia Southern golf course. It is a golf course primarily for our students, but it's going to be an opportunity for the public to be able to participate in this as well."