Augustana opens indoor golf facility to enhance student-athlete opportunities
Golf is now played year-round at Augustana College, following the opening of its new indoor facility.
In December, the Augustana Indoor Golf Center was announced, with a practice area placed in the space previously occupied by racquetball courts on the west end of the school's Carver Center, according to www.athletics.augustana.edu.
What was two racquetball courts now stands as a driving room as well as another room set aside for chipping and putting practice.
Augustana Director of Athletics Michael Zapolski told Rock Island Today that the new practice areas will help with recruiting for the men's and women's golf programs as an aspect that makes Augustana different from many colleges of a similar size.
“Our thought is, the space will help us grow our roster sizes and improve the overall competitiveness of our program because the student-athletes will have a dedicated space to work on key components of their golf game,” he said. “It has been tremendous to see the use of the space already by our men's and women's golf team.”
Zapolski said the idea for an indoor facility began about 18 months ago, when Vikings women's Golf Coach Tom Lawrence and men's Golf Coach Paul Del Vecchio first began discussing it.
“Our men's and women's golf student-athletes needed a viable place to work on important components of their game during the winter months or during bad weather situations,” Zapolski said. “Creating an indoor practice space was imperative for Augustana to grow our roster size and improve our level of competitiveness.”
The two coaches and Zapolski went to work on ideas for a facility, brainstorming concepts as well as visiting vendor-recommended indoor facilities.
As it turns out, the answer was in their backyard. Zapolski said the Carver Center's racquetball courts were not used a great deal, making it “the logical space.”
“We converted two racquetball courts — so 1,600 square feet — into a space that our golf student-athletes can access at any time without disrupting other activities in the building,” he said.
According to Augustana's athletic website, the golf center has a seven-hole, undulating putting green, a portable chipping pad and a pair of chipping mats that are built-in. The other room has three hitting bays that each measure 9 feet by 6 feet. Furthermore, student-athletes hit the golf balls off mats that closely match what hitting off fairways.
More additions are planned for the golf center, Augustana's website stated: three launch monitors, a putting lab and a vest that players can wear to measure their swings.
“We are fundraising now in an effort to add technology to the space, so our golfers can receive feedback and information to further improve their skills,” Zapolski said.
Both Vikings teams will start their spring seasons in February. The Augustana men open by competing in the Arizona Christian Spring Invitational, held Feb. 20-21 in Phoenix. The women's team will get going in the Warner University Classic, set for Feb. 27-28 in Sebring, Florida.