The Tombros Varsity Clubhouse is the newest asset to Penn State's men's and women's golf teams. It is conveniently located between the Blue and White courses, just west of the Blue Course's 18th hole and right next to the Walker Clubhouse.
Peter and Ann Tombros propelled the project with an initial donation in 2007. The project was additionally funded by donations from numerous alumni Nittany Lion Club donors.
The facility provides coaches' offices, team locker rooms and club storage. A lounge with a big screen TV allows the team to relax and study while at the course. A new heated indoor hitting-net facility and indoor-to-outdoor hitting bays give the golfers an advantage especially in the winter months. A new V-1 video system provides the team with video instruction to help improve development.
In addition to its prime location and exceptional features, the facility will also give the program an edge from a recruiting standpoint as it is better able to compete with the programs who previously had their own facilities.
"This building will definitely start with recruiting, but when the players get here, we look at process and how much they enjoy and remember the program," said Nye. "The process of the daily activity, of running a program and of being a comfort to the players, it is a place where they can launch from to do the necessary practice, to do the work to get better, to compete hard and to be successful.
Penn State's Blue and White golf courses completed a major renovation/redesign in 2007. The Blue course is now a Par 72, 7,228 yards from the Championship tees. The renovated Blue course hosted its first major amateur event; the 2009 Big Ten Men's Golf Championship. The Blue Course was very well received by coaches and players alike. The individual Big Ten Champion scored one under over the 72 holes. 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 now proudly sits with some of the top in this group. The Blue Course annually hosts the Rutherford Intercollegiate 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., eight original holes/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 raised and undulated green complexes which add to its character and demand a creative and disciplined shot making to score well. The 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. This private golf team area has four tiers with bent & blue grass teeing ground, two ample fairway bunkers adjacent to the tees, as well as a rolling fairway for players to work on un-even lies. A small pitching green and bunker are attached to this unique undulated fairway to further enhance the quality of Penn State's practices. 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.
"This area was developed so our players not only have an outstanding bent grass hitting surface, but an area where they can develop their fairway bunker game, and uneven lie adjustments," Nye said. "Like the short-game area, the range area we created is about variety and play simulation opportunities."
Nittany Lions also opened a private two-acre short-game facility August of 2007. The practice area is nestled in behind the 14th green of the Blue Course and is a short distance from the heart of the program - the new Tombros Varsity Golf Clubhouse. This wonderfully private area overlooks the back nine of the Blue course, and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains.
The multifaceted area has a 13,000-plus square foot green dedicated to chipping and putting only, while another 10,000-plus square foot green attached to two contoured bent grass fairways of 50 and 110 yards receives an endless variety of short-game shots. This "impact" green is surrounded with several bunkers, with fairways and rough that provide level and un-level lies, as well as elevation changes.
"The short game practice area has been a dream come true," Nye says. "I see this area as a virtual playground for our players as they build their short game fundamentals, touch and creative shot making daily in practice. Our players experience one of the finest and most 'on course' looking short game facility in all of collegiate golf."
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.
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