Golf team opens new state-of-the-art practice facility

Lo Donato

Staff Writer

Davidson’s golf team celebrated the open- ing ceremony of its new facility at River Run Country Club this past weekend. The new facility, made possible by generous do- nations, has large implications for the golf pro- gram.

On Saturday present and former golfers gathered together at River Run for a ceremonial dinner.

“It’s special when you are able to have an alumni dinner like Saturday and connect with generations of Davidson golfers,” David Sargent ’16 said. “It was an unforgettable night, and a celebration of the history of this program.”

An opening statement by Davidson College’s President Quillen spoke of the new facility as supporting the mission of Davidson College to integrate high-level academics and athletics. Two Davidson golf team alums, Ben Vernon ‘50 and Graham Keith ‘54—who have made the dream of this facility a reality—received Lifetime Achievement Awards for their extensive support.

“The opening of the Davidson College Golf House at River Run on Saturday night was a huge success” reflected head coach Tim Straub, who has been in his position for 16 years. “This facility will greatly enhance our player development and our recruiting efforts. We can’t thank our sup- porters enough for making this facility a reality.”

Davidson’s golf team has long been utilizing River Run’s courses for training; however, the new facility makes this space more beneficial to the golfers for practice and competition. The facility includes three new state of the art heat- ed hitting bays with the necessary technological equipment to analyze swings, an indoor putting green, a locker room and a player lounge. Senior Alex Nianouris ’16 excitedly remarked, “it is as good— if not better—than any facility in the country.”

Before the opening of this facility harsh weather conditions impacted the players’ abilities to practice; now the players can hit indoors and keep up their muscle memory, especially during winter months. In the past if players wanted to hit somewhere other than River Run’s range, they would use the Covington course on campus. However, the conditions of the course weren’t as good as those at the high-level tournaments the team competes in. The new facility can therefore better simulate tournament-like conditions.

The facility grants the team the freedom to practice on its own time. River Run has been generous in letting the team use its practice area and course, but the players were still limited as to what they could do. Now that they have a space that is entirely theirs, it means that if they want to hit balls for a few hours, they can do it with- out taking up space from River Run’s members. Having a space which they don’t feel as obligated to share or limit their use of is essential for their ability to practice and improve.

Looking forward for the program, the new facility should aid in the recruiting process and make the team more competitive. A recruit in the past who was considering Davidson might have chosen a larger school with a similar facility, but now will get a similar, if not better, type of facility at Davidson. Davidson’s new facility will allow the golf program to compete on par with most high-level programs in the country.

This year four freshmen were recruited for the class of 2019 who can make an impact on the program and give the team the building blocks it needs for the years to come. One of those new- comers, Mike Blasey ’19, was selected Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week for his play at Georgia State’s tournament. He currently leads the team with a 73.4 stroke average.

Players remark that the team is a cohesive and tight-nit group. Regarding the team’s dynamic this season and the development of this new facility, Sargent said, “the facility will bring us even closer together.”

Davidson’s Golf team returns to competition on Oct. 25-26, at the Bridgestone Golf Collegiate hosted by UNCG, before taking a competitive hiatus until the Atlantic 10 Match Play Champion- ship in February.

The team has played two matches so far this fall, at Duke and Wake Forest. The Tar Heel Intercollegiate at UNC was cancelled due to weather.

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