New exclusive Georgia golf club to be founded by Bubba Watson, Chris Kirk, Brendon Todd and more

Bubba Watson slipped into a couple of green jackets in Augusta as Masters champion and returns to Athens on occasion for Georgia football and basketball games.

So what brought the former Bulldog golfer back to the area last week?

He teased a new golf course on the horizon “The Rose,” on his social media accounts.

You might have been thinking, ‘What’s that all about?’

It’s a planned 200 to 300 invitation-only 18-hole golf club that will be built on 588 acres in Hull, less than 15 minutes from downtown Athens. It will be ready to open by late 2026. Unconnected to the course on the tract will be 147 homes.

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It all sprung from an idea of Watson’s Georgia teammate, Nick Cassini, and his brother Dimitri who are developers on the project and have their own development company, Cassini Holdings.

It received approval from the Madison County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 8.

“It’s all centered around creating an amazing golf experience, an amazing golf course,” Nick Cassini told the Athens Banner-Herald. “It’s a collective group that has a ton of experience. Our founders are members of many, many clubs around the country so we’re sort of bringing some of the best aspects of all those clubs into this one.”

Watson, among those who left the PGA Tour for the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Tour, joined UGA golf coach Chris Haack and Cassini last week along with Georgia golf alums Brendon Todd, David Denham and current assistant coach Mookie DeMoss to walk the site on what was a cold day.

Watson and Cassini were teammates in 2000-2001 who traveled together when they played on what’s now the Korn Ferry Tour.

“When I called Bubba up and told him about this, he immediately was excited about it,” said Nick Cassini who’s been friends with Watson since they were 12. “He saw it as a way to give back to the game, to the University of Georgia and with Athens and to really connect more with Athens and the school again. When we got approval, he wanted to come see the property.”

Watson, Todd and Athens resident and recent PGA Tour winner Chris Kirk are among those who will be founding members. They could have input into hole design, Haack said.

Haack said it could compare to high-end, private clubs Ohoopee in Cobbtown or Congaree near Ridgeland, S.C.

“Just something different for Athens,” he said.

A “well-renowned” golf architect will be hired as well as a clubhouse architect and announced in the coming weeks, Cassini said, “but we’ll have Tour guys eyeballs on the golf course as well which will be great and add something to it. Our goal is to create a world-class golf club.”

Matt Coutu, brother of former Georgia kicker Brandon Coutu, is a partner in the project and owns Woodland Assets which works with the Cassinis. He told the Madison County Board of Commissioners that the project on Howard Road underwent five revisions before approval.

It includes a private dining facility, swimming pool, locker room, spa and driving range. He told the board that cottages would start at about $550,000 and community lots from $800,000 to more than $1 million.

Haack said it took about 15 minutes to get from the UGA golf course to where the new course will be.

The plan is for Georgia’s golf teams — both the men and the women — to be able to use the course.

“They still have a huge interest in the program and think this will be a great place for our guys to play and practice,” Haack said. “Their anticipation on it is they’re going to keep it at really top notch, peak condition and make it a destination place that a lot of guys are going to want to come play. For us to have access to it, would be a huge feather in our cap.”

Even though the club will be for members and their guests, the plan is to host a Madison County Chamber of Commerce tournament, charity and amateur events. The Madison County High School golf team, which does not have a home course in the county, will be able to practice some there and host a match.

“We want to be inclusive and really integrated into the community,” Cassini said.

Cassini envisions fast greens and a track that would be around 7,400 yards from the back tees that will be ready for any level of golfer to enjoy.

“It will be a firm, fast golf course, a little bit more American links-style,” he said. “Natural topography. A lot of long views. It’s going to be something a little bit different than what’s in the area at this point. When I say area, not just the Athens area, but the Atlanta metro area.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek