JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Chris Borders, for 35 years the general manager of the Atlanta Athletic Club, is the first club manager brought into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.
Borders, who lives in Woodstock, joined architect Bob Cupp, PGA professional Stephen Keppler and longtime amateur competitor Frank Eldridge Jan. 18 at the 25th annual induction ceremonies at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Borders retired in March 2013.
“This is pretty special, especially since it’s happening at the Atlanta Athletic Club,” Borders said. “To receive this honor and have it here could not be more special.”
PGA Master Professional Rick Anderson, the director of golf at AAC since 1989, knows him as well as anyone. Borders came to AAC in 1976 as clubhouse manager, and Anderson came aboard as assistant teaching professional in 1981.
They worked together until 1985 when each took a hiatus from AAC. Borders left to be general manager at Horseshoe Bend, and Anderson took the job of head pro at a club in North Carolina.
But in 1989, Borders and Anderson were back working at AAC where only Borders’ retirement ended their association.
“So we spent the last 25 years here,” Anderson said. “As for what Chris meant to the Atlanta Athletic Club, I think the fact that he was here for 10 years, then they brought him back four years later to stay another 25 years says it all.
“When the Board of Directors brought him back, it speaks to what they saw in him and the confidence they had in his leadership,” Anderson said. “There’s probably nobody that loves the Atlanta Athletic Club as much as Chris Borders.”
In appreciation, the Board of Directors also gave Borders an honorary membership to the club.
“I’ve had so many people who have lifted me up and helped my career,” Borders said. “And the Atlanta Athletic Club provided me with an amazing workplace.”
The new General Manager and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Carroll has continued to take the club in the right direction, Anderson said.
“But everyone misses seeing Chris every day,” he said. “But he still comes around every week to play a few rounds, and AAC still taps into his vast knowledge of the history of the club.”
Borders should know a lot of the club’s history. He helped make a lot of it.
“Chris was here for all of the major championships held here,” Anderson said. “He helped the club host the 1976 U.S. Open, the 1981 PGA Championship, the 1982 Junior World Cup and 1984 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. And as general manager, he was involved in the 1990 U.S. Women’s Open, the 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur and 2001 and 2011 PGA Championships.”
Borders grew up in the small town of Reynolds, and some personal star guided him to his career at an early age. He not only lettered three years in golf, but by the time he was 14, Borders was running the town’s nine-hole golf course.
After attending Mercer University on a partial golf scholarship, he served as an officer with the U.S. Army.
There, someone knew what to do with Borders. During his time in service, he oversaw three Army courses in Hawaii and constructed and operated a driving range while serving in Vietnam.
U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn was the next to spot his talent, steering Borders to be the general manager at Houston Lake Country Club in Perry. He stayed two years before leaving for Florida State University to earn a degree in hotel and restaurant administration.
The degree in hand, he next landed at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 1976.
Borders oversaw extensive renovations of the club’s two golf courses and the clubhouse. He also conceived and played a large role in creating the Bobby Jones Room, which houses much of Jones’ memorabilia.
“Chris has an ability to organize things,” said Jim Thorne, a former president of the Atlanta Athletic Club. “He knows what works and what doesn’t work. It makes a big difference.”
Borders was also involved in mentoring and professional development as a member of the Club Managers Association of America and was Club Manager of the Year in 1992.