Restoring a golfers’ paradise in east Greensboro.

The course holds a special place in local Civil Rights history. In 1955, six Black men led by Dr. George Simkins played the course in defiance of the whites-only rules. They were later arrested, convicted of trespassing, and spent 15 days in jail. After a series of court cases and appeals, Judge Johnson J. Hayes forced the City to integrate the course. Before it could open to minority golfers, the clubhouse was burned to the ground. The City condemned the course. It didn’t open to all players for another seven years. The site now honors the Greensboro Six with a historical marker.

Gillespie plays an important role in making golf accessible for all people. Gillespie was the first course in North Carolina to offer PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), a national program that uses golf to enhance the physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing of active duty military and veterans. The course also actively promotes access to golf for individuals with disabilities, and is one of the only courses in the Triad that offers adaptive golf lessons and a standing golf cart for golfers with spinal cord injuries or mobility differences. It’s also home to First Tee Central Carolina, a national youth development organization teaching children of all backgrounds to play the game.

While Gillespie is a busy and beloved facility, the course and buildings are showing their age. In 2023, the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department began the process of creating a master plan that will make recommendations for future renovations and improvements to enhance user experience and create new opportunities at the course. Improvements may include a new banquet hall, inclusive miniature golf, an updated driving range, as well as a hole redesigns. The planning process, overseen by the McAdams consulting firm, will include extensive public engagement to ensure the renovations honor the course’s history and meet community needs into the future.

New investment is critical. The Parks Foundation asks the community to join us in securing resources for this important facility improvement project.