North Texas Daily

Athletics raises money for new golf facility

Athletics raises money for new golf facility

Athletics raises money for new golf facility
September 26
07:58 2013

Andrew Freeman / Staff Writer

The UNT golf program hasn’t had a course to call its own since the Eagle Point Golf Course was closed in 2003. Eagle Point shut down to make room for the North Texas Athletic Center off Interstate 35 and Bonnie Brae Street in the Mean Green Village.

That may no longer be the case thanks to an agreement between UNT and the Trophy Club Country Club approved by the Board of Regents this summer.

“Without a facility, you are really handicapped compared to other teams,” head men’s golf coach Brad Stracke said. “This is a place that’ll be ours, and it’ll be state of the art.”

The agreement will cost $1.1 million in licensing, and with UNT’s approval it will enable the country club to design, construct and maintain a practice facility that the UNT men’s and women’s golf teams will be able to call home.

“We are talking to alumni now, and are continuing to talk to people,” Athletic Director Rick Villarreal said. “Most facilities aren’t made with cash up front, but we want a good portion committed by donors first.”

However, the agreement is not yet finalized, as the UNT Board of Regents will not allow the contract unless the athletic department raises all $1.1 million, or a financing plan is set up. So far, UNT has $400,000 set aside for the project.

The facility will be primarily for student-athletes to work on their short game – when a golfer is on the fairway in striking distance of the green, but it will also include putting greens.

“It’ll make the golf team a lot better because short game is 65 to 70 percent of the game – the most important part of the game,” Stracke said. “It’ll make things a lot smoother and easier, and we will be able to do a lot more with our training.”

Head women’s golf coach Jeff Mitchell said the center will have a positive impact on the team’s game. Mitchell has been the head coach since 2008 and led the team to its highest ranking in 2011-2012.

“We need this worse than anything we’ve needed for a while, and I hope we get it,” Mitchell said. “There is not one thing we can get that will impact our results more than a place to practice, a place to call our own.”

Villarreal is optimistic about the speed at which the athletic department’s projects are moving.

“Once we get the financing secured, construction shouldn’t take long,” Villarreal said. “If we get the grass laid down in spring of ’14, it should be ready for the next fall, but again, that’s all tentative.”

Villarreal said the country club, which is located in Trophy Club, Texas, just west of Flower Mound, is excited as well.

“They want to be known as the home of the Mean Green,” Villarreal said. “And it’s really cool that they show that kind of pride.”

The Trophy Club Country Club was unable to be reached for comment.

There is a second phase to the project to establish an indoor facility in the plans as well, which would cost an additional $200,000. If enough money is raised, Villarreal said he would like to see it all done at once.

“We already have a small indoor facility in the Mean Green Village with two hitting nets and a turf area, along with a putting area,” Villarreal said. “However, the Trophy Club indoor facility would be more like a driving range, with garage-like doors that open up that allow students to practice, while protecting it from things like bad weather.”

Stracke became head coach of the men’s team in 2008 after working as the assistant coach for three years and has led UNT to a Sun Belt Conference title and the NCAA regionals in each of the last three seasons.

“We had a really good team last year, and it became imperative we needed a place to practice,” Villarreal said. “Our men have been to the NCAA three of the last four years, our women went a couple years ago, and the only thing we don’t have is a dedicated golf course.”

Graphic by Aidan Barrett / Senior Staff Photographer

Junior McKenzie Ralston prepares to tee off on the 18th hole Monday at the Marilyn Smith/Sunflower Invitational in Manhattan, Kan. Ralston shot an 85 on the final round yesterday. Feature photo courtesy of Head Coach Jeff Mitchell.

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