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GOLF: Golf team eager for facilities

Chris Khorey | Thursday, September 22, 2005

Notre Dame golf is moving into the 21st Century.

Thanks to a generous gift from Robert and Marilyn Rolfs, the Irish men’s and women’s golf teams will soon have a state-of-the-art indoor practice facility for use during snowy South Bend winters.

The building, which is expected to be completed by next fall, will be located at the corner of Douglas and Ivy Roads – next to the Warren Golf Course northeast of campus.

The structure, which will be named the Rolfs Family All-Weather Varsity Golf Facility, will cost a planned $2.1 million.

Notre Dame women’s golf coach Debby King says the facilities upgrade is sorely needed.

“We practice in the Loftus [Center] during the winter right now,” King said. “At Loftus, basically all we can do is hit into a net. We can’t putt. We tried chipping, but it’s just not the same. We’re going to be able to do all parts of the game in the new facility.”

The Rolfs Facility will feature a 3,600-foot putting green and chipping area, complete with a sand bunker. While the surface will be artificial, King said that there are no concerns with realistic play.

“It’s artificial, but when you’re practicing on it you can’t tell,” she said. “It has a sand base and when you hit a shot into it, it will react just like a real green.”

Adjacent to the new building, six covered and heated “tee stations” will be built. These relatively climate controlled tee boxes will allow players to use the existing driving range in most types of weather.

The “tee stations” will also be equipped with video devices, which will record players’ swings for later coaching and technique improvement.

“We’ll have three camera views, the rear and the two sides of the golfer,” King said of the video system. “We will also have a teaching facility called the ‘V-1 Coaching System,’ where we can look at a players swing, slow it down, speed it up and draw pictures on it.”

Irish golfers currently videotape their swings, but the effectiveness of present methods is questionable.

“We try our best [to videotape] at Loftus, but obviously we can’t get the camera angles and the lighting is bad,” King said.

Using technology and videotape to focus on a player’s swing mechanics has been a major part of golf coaching for years.

“Just about every university has [a video system],” King said.

The new facility will also feature locker rooms for both the men’s and women’s teams, complete with plasma screen TVs and Internet access. The offices for both coaching staffs will also be housed in the new building.

King said the Rolfs Facility, like the Warren Course after its completion in 2000, should be a boon for Irish golf recruiting.

“[Recruiting] is one of the purposes for building it,” King said. “I think it’ll be a big asset.”

As for current Irish golfers, the women’s team will travel to Bloomington, Ind., to play in the Lady Northern Invitational this weekend. It will the be their first action after a season-opening win at the Notre Dame Invitational at the Warren Course Sept. 11.

The men’s team, fresh off a fifth-place finish at the Gopher Invitational in Wayzata, Minn., will travel to Birmingham, Ala., this weekend for the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate.