Finding a more complete set of on-campus golf facilities that surpass what Penn State has to offer is pretty difficult. With two on-campus 18-hole courses and an array of outdoor and indoor practice facilities, it's easy to see how Penn State golfers have the opportunity to develop their games so well. Penn State sits in the middle of numerous local golf courses. The varsity teams primarily use the university's Blue and White Courses but also use local courses like Toftrees Golf Club, Centre Hills Country Club and the Elks Club of State College.
Women's head coach Denise St. Pierre notes, "I believe we may be one of a few if not the only school to have our very own 36 holes facility right across the street from campus. The convenience of having practice areas nearby when the players are juggling demanding schedules is a big advantage."
Penn State's Blue and White courses completed a renovation and redesign in 2007. The Blue Course is now a par 72 and 7,228 yards from the championship tees. The renovated Blue Course hosted its first major amateur event, the 2008 Big Ten Women's Golf Championship, and was received by coaches and players as a great and fair challenge. The Big Ten Conference is well known for the outstanding caliber of its university owned golf courses, and with the updates and improvements made in 2007, the Blue Course proudly sits in this group. The Blue Course annually hosts the Nittany Lion Women's Golf Invitational and has hosted numerous events conducted by the USGA, FCWT, AJGA, IJGT, PGA Junior Series and the West Penn Golf Association.
The White Course provides a historic alternative to golfers in the area. Designed in 1922 by world famed architect Willie Park Jr., 8 original holes and green complexes still exist. The current layout is shorter than the Blue Course but still provides a test to even the skilled golfer. The White Course provides smaller crowned green complexes adding to its character and demands a creative short game to score well. The creative and sculpted bunkering of Willie Park Jr. is still studied and photographed by some of today's top architects.
The ample grass range located at the opposite end of the public range was expanded in 2007 to provide an area for the Lions to practice just about any shot in the bag. The private golf team area has four tiers consisting of a bent and blue grass teeing ground, two ample fairway bunkers adjacent to the tees, as well as a rolling fairway for players to work on uneven lies. A small pitching green and bunker are attached to the rolling fairway. The rolling fairway brings a unique quality to Penn State's practice opportunities. The slightly elevated practice area allows players to hit to a variety of measured targets and see the ball land, thus providing instant feedback in evaluating shot distances and quality.
"Our private range area allows us to experience golf as it typically is on a course," St. Pierre said. "We have a tee box that looks like a rolling fairway that we call the `golf simulator', allowing players to practice all types of different lies with various clubs."
Nittany Lions also opened a private two-acre short game facility in August of 2007. The practice area is located behind the 14th green of the Blue Course, approximately 265 yards from the Varsity Golf Center. The multifaceted area has a 13,000-plus square foot chipping and putting green, as well as a 10,000-plus square foot impact green attached to two contoured fairways of 50 and 110 yards. The impact green is surrounded by several bunkers, even and uneven lies, creating a variety of uphill, downhill and side hill shots. The bent grass fairways and greens are surrounded with rye grass rough. The rolling terrain gives an opportunity for the Nittany Lions to practice a multitude of shots that they may face in competition from a variety of lies and elevations.
"The large putting surface is pristine and kept at a rolling speed much like competition," St. Pierre said. "Anyone interested in improving their short game would love to practice here."
There is also a lounge with a big screen TV, allowing players to build team chemistry and study while at the course. The new heated indoor hitting-net facility and the indoor to outdoor hitting bays have provided golfers with a way to improve development, even in the winter months. A new V-1 video system provides the team with video instruction. New practice putting greens in the Tombros Varsity Clubhouse give the golfers and advantage that they didn't have in Holuba Hall.
"The latest addition to our Penn State golf programs is a place to call `home.' This building is dedicated for the sole use of the Women's and Men's golf teams and made possible through the generosity of many friends and alumni of Penn State, of which we are very thankful," St. Pierre said.
Even with the addition of the Varsity Golf Center, the golf team continues to use the spacious Holuba Hall. Within the 118,000 sq. foot artificial turf practice area, players can work on the fine points of their entire game. With a ceiling height of 75 feet, they can use every club in the bag and observe their full flight with the use of Cayman golf balls. These are the same golf balls that were used at the PGA's 2000 Teaching and Coaching Summit. Players are able to hit directly off the field turf giving them immediate shot feedback. Additional netting also lets golfers hit regular balls from a distance of 50 yards.
St. Pierre said, "Many players think they need to be south to improve their game. We feel we have the opportunity to focus on our weaknesses and improve in this indoor practice area just as well. It forces us to be creative with our practices, experience new shots and become more aware of our blind spots."
The Fritz Strength and Conditioning Center located in REC Hall is equipped with state of the art strength and conditioning equipment. Completely renovated in 2006, the facility is used year round by the Nittany Lion Golf Team.