News 12 at 11 o'clock, June 5, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame is shutting its garden gates in three weeks.
The announcement came today. It's all over as of June 30th.
The gardens will close because of a lack of operational funds, but the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame will be run, for now, from the home of executive director Dianne King.
They say they will continue their mission and continue hoping for best.
It's been the place for countless events over the past six year, from golfing receptions to Christmas toy drives. The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Botanical Gardens has steadily grown to become a landmark in Augusta.
"There are so many organizations out there willing to help us," King told us in November 2005. "There is no opportunity for us to say 'There's a date we'll have to close the door'. Nobody on our team will say that."
A massive 70,000 square foot interactive museum and exhibit center had been planned for the site over a decade ago, but the project never got off the ground. The Botanical Gardens alone cost $20 million to build. King told News 12 recently that maintenance of the gardens cost half a million a year.
Gov. Sonny Perdue recently axed a bill that would have given the Golf Hall of Fame a $634,000 budget. And now, just days after the governor cut the funding, the announcement came down that the estate is closing after months and years of planning, building, and growing.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions, like what will happen to that famous statue of Jack Nicklaus? Mayor Deke Copenhaver, one of the biggest supporters of the gardens, says he's not giving up yet.
"I still think we have time," he said. "I'm not going to give up yet. That's all I'm going to say."
Back in 2005, King told us the vision was "a place to hold community events and something to do on a Sunday afternoon after church. Come down and have a picnic." But unless this board can find the funds to keep the unfortunate from happening, that vision will simply turn into a memory.
Following is a news release from the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame:
The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Authority Board of Directors is deeply saddened that despite the tremendous improvements, accomplishments and progress made during the past two years; the Botanical Gardens and Signature Putting Course will be closing on June 30, 2007 due to a lack of operational funds.
The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame will continue to support and perpetuate its mission: to preserve and promote Georgia’s golf traditions, heritage, achievements, and excellence. The operations of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame will be temporarily relocated to the home of the Executive Director.
The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Team would like to thank all sponsors, contributors, Official Friends, and volunteers for their past efforts. We look forward to your continued support of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame during these changing times. The 2008 Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be hosted on Saturday, January 12, 2008 at the Marriott Augusta Hotel. We hope to see you there!