May 7, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Adding to some of the best golf facilities in nation, the South Carolina men's and women's golf programs unveiled The Coop Practice Facility with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday afternoon.
The practice area, which is a short drive from campus adjacent to the Par Tee Driving Range in West Columbia, becomes the Gamecocks' primary driving range and short game facility. It is also South Carolina's first athletics facility located in Lexington County.
"You might call it our field of dreams," South Carolina director of golf Puggy Blackmon said. "The comprehensive eight-acre complex is within close proximity of campus and provides our teams a more convenient opportunity to improve every facet of their game."
The project is a culmination of a combined effort from numerous individuals and companies that began with discussions between Blackmon, Lexington County Administrator Joe Mergo and Par Tee owner Dan Gensamer in 2007. With the help of Lexington County, the Lexington County Gamecock Club, John Brown of New Life Turf, Beau Welling of Beau Welling Design, Lee Dalton of Dalton Irrigation and the N.W. White Company, the vision of Blackmon, Mergo and Gensamer came to fruition.
"The success of our student-athletes depends significantly on having high quality training facilities," South Carolina athletics director Eric Hyman said. "The addition of The Coop complements our comprehensive master plan, which will result in one of the finest athletic complexes in the nation. We at the University of South Carolina are indebted to Lexington County and the many individuals who contributed so much to making this beautiful facility possible."
Welling, a noted golf course architect and South Carolina alum, contributed his expertise in assuring the Gamecock linksters the opportunity to refine every facet of their game in a quiet and beautiful setting. The Coop features two large practice greens, a putting green and five multi-directional practice tees. The greens feature different Bermuda grass surfaces and are surrounded by a multitude of bunkers of varying depths. All three undulating greens simulate what the Gamecocks may face on the nation's toughest courses.
"To say that I am excited about the opening of The Coop would be an understatement," South Carolina men's golf coach Bill McDonald said. "We now have a first class practice facility close to campus that provides our players with a variety of options to refine their games. As coaches, we now have the ability and freedom to design practice programs that our players will most certainly benefit from. The commitment to building The Coop has had an immediate impact on recruiting and the long-term benefit to our golf programs will be substantial."
Fairways meander through the complex and are bordered by both intermediate and primary rough. Players can practice approach shots up to 300 yards. A large practice tee also allows practice to targets on the vast adjoining driving range.
"The Coop is the ideal collegiate practice facility," South Carolina women's golf coach Kalen Harris said. "From the player development side, The Coop offers a place to practice every short-game and every long-game shot that can be imagined. It is similar to a real golf course setting. The Coop's proximity to campus and resourcefulness has already impressed recruits, and will continue to be beneficial in future recruiting."
For their efforts, the Lexington County Council and their partners received the Environmental Protection Agency's Excellence in Site Reuse award for redeveloping the 160-acre Lexington County Landfill Superfund Site into valuable resources for the surrounding community and the county as a whole.
The Coop joins Cobblestone Park as South Carolina's primary golf practice facilities. Cobblestone Park is the Gamecocks' home course in Blythewood that features a 27-hole layout and is also home to a state of the art teaching center and the Wardle Golf House, which includes locker rooms, meeting rooms, player lounges, offices and a memorabilia hall.
What they are saying about The Coop
We at the University of South Carolina are indebted to Lexington County and the many individuals who contributed so much to making this beautiful facility possible.
South Carolina Director of Golf Puggy Blackmon:
We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to Lexington County and Par Tee for making The Coop possible. Coupled with the expertise, services and materials provided by John Brown (New Life Turf), Lee Dalton (Dalton Irrigation), Beau Welling (Beau Welling Design) and the N.W. White Company, we have one of the finest collegiate practice facilities in the country.
South Carolina Women's Golf Coach Kalen Harris:
South Carolina Men's Golf Coach Bill McDonald:
Beau Welling of Beau Welling Design:
Bill Banning, Chairman of Lexington County Council:
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