UI to construct new $1.8M practice golf facility


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University of Iowa golfers will soon be able to see the "flight of the ball" a little easier during the winter months.

A comprehensive golf practice facility will be constructed on Finkbine Golf Course in the upcoming year, which UI golf officials say is essential to keep the school's golf teams nationally competitive.

"We have been behind in the facilities race, and this will help us catch and surpass many of the Big Ten schools," said Mark Hankins, the Hawkeye men's golf coach.

The "state-of-the-art" facility will help recruit the best golf players, Hankins said.

Associate Athletics Director Jane Meyer said the projected budget for the 7,300-square-foot facility is $1.8 million, financed by fundraising and private donations to the Athletics Department.

Meyer said being able to train efficiently in the winter is a key in order for the teams to stay competitive.

"They will be able to see the flight of the ball in January when they can't get somewhere to compete and they need practice," she said. "If they didn't make the travel team, they can still be here."

Meyer, who is in charge of the project, said the golfers currently have to use such facilities as the Field House and the Bubble for practice.

"One of the reasons [for building the facility] is to be a little more compact in one place for a winter training facility," she said. "They can change, go practice, shower, get to class or other responsibilities they have."

The facility will include a putting and chipping area, locker rooms for the men and women's teams, and heated hitting bays that will open up to the driving range. Golfers will be able to analyze their swing through film technology, Meyer said.

"It's really important to have a place where [Hawkeye golfers] can maintain their skills and maintain their level of play during the winter," said women's golf coach Megan Menzel.

Hankins also said saving time will be beneficial for the coaches in addition to the student-athletes.

"Having my office at the facility is also a great advantage when you are trying to be flexible with student-athlete schedules and time constraints, which allows me to be available for coaching, swing instruction, and learning sessions on a more consistent basis," he said.

Golfers will also have more opportunities to practice on their own time, he noted.

"It also gives those student-athletes with a desire to work harder with a facility that will be at their disposal from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.," he said.

The facility will go up for bid on Feb. 14; construction is expected to take a one year.

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