Plans to construct a new short game practice golf area at the Sports Park on Streatham campus, have been unveiled by University of Exeter Sport.
Making use of the vacant space behind the University’s covered tennis courts; the 50m x 30m area will house two contoured, all-weather artificial greens and an eco-bunker.
A 200m2 Pro-tour standard practice green will allow players to practice a full range of short game shots whilst a smaller 80m2 putting green gives golfers the ability to focus on short and medium range putts.
The project was ratified by the University last year and planning permission has been approved by Exeter City Council. Work is due to start in early February with the completion scheduled for April.
High Performance Manager and University Golf Manager Craig Townsend helped mastermind the project and is delighted to see it come to fruition. He said: “A short game practice area is the best facility you can build to improve a golfers on course performance. Short game can form up to 70 – 80% of your shots, so is a crucial element of the sport.
One of the University’s most successful clubs, the Student Golf Club were crowned National Champions and Premier League winners in the 2012 / 2013 British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) season, earning the top spot in the national rankings.
Townsend added: “Over the last few years we have been working incredibly hard with the University Golf Club to bring their short game up to a professional tour player’s standard, and this is the next logical progression from there. We plan for the performance squad players to be playing and practising three to four times a week, a marked increase on what we can currently offer. Geographically it will be much easier, as players will be able to train between lectures, and not have to organise transport, which can be difficult.”
In addition to the short game practice area, four driving nets with a video feedback facility for club golfers and University squads will allow focus on other technical improvements in the swing.
Tour Greens Europe will be undertaking the project and are experienced in delivering synthetic golf areas to the world’s golfing elite. Representative Daniel Bennett commented: “We have created practice facilities for many of the world’s top golfers including Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher and Miguel Angel Jiminez. Using our exclusive combination of synthetic turf products built on top of a shaped stone surface and filled with fine silica sand, we are able to replicate the most demanding tour golf conditions, allowing players to hit balls onto the green from a distance and experience a reaction equivalent to a natural grass green but without the twice daily mowing.”
The short game practice golf area is expected to cost around £100,000, the project will be partly funded by golf’s national governing body, the Royal and Ancient (R&A) alongside the University’s Alumni Fund and Annual Fund. It is intended that the facility will make golf more accessible and affordable for players from across the local community.
The whole area will eventually be bookable as any other Sports Park facility is. Craig Townsend commented: “Our aim is to become one of the premier golf facilities in the country and we are already looking at ways that we could expand this project to make it easier for players old and new to enjoy golf. In the long term professional coaches will provide coaching for everyone from complete beginner to elite county golfers”
The facility’s approval follows a substantial investment in Sport at the University as it continues to climb the national rankings. In September the Sports Park opened its £6.5 million flagship Russell Seal Fitness Centre, having already completed the construction of six covered tennis courts and made significant improvements to its hockey provision earlier in the year.
The University of Exeter currently supports 6 golf scholars, including Welsh international player Katie Bradbury.
Tour Greens Europe http://tourgreens-europe.com/tge/