WVU Golf Desperately Needs A ‘Game Changer’

WVU Golf Desperately Needs A ‘Game Changer’


MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Sitting several miles south of Morgantown on Route 73, not far from the Goshen Road exit of I-79, are 93 overgrown acres of land.

Those weed-strewn rolling hills may not look like much now, but they are the key to the future of West Virginia University golf program.

In four seasons, WVU head golf coach Sean Covich has done an amazing job building the program from scratch.

The clubhouse at the White Day Golf Course

West Virginia fielded a golf team from 1933 to 1982, but then budgetary issues forced Mountaineer officials to cut golf, as well as women’s softball and men’s gymnastics. Golf, as a varsity sport, lay dormant until WVU joined the Big 12 in 2012. Asked to add a sport as part of its new conference home, the Mountaineers brought back golf.

On May 22, 2014, WVU director of athletics at the time, Oliver Luck, hired Covich, who had worked the previous three years as an assistant coach at Mississippi State. Covich spent a little over a year at WVU constructing the foundation for the program before the Mountaineer golf team began varsity competition with the 2015-16 season.

Four years later, his Mountaineers qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships. It was the first time since 1947 that WVU’s golf team had earn a spot in an NCAA Regional. West Virginia finished sixth this past week at the Louisville Regional, just two shots out of fifth place which would have allowed it to advance to the upcoming NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Still, this is a young squad with bright hopes for the future. Max Sear was the only senior who saw regular action this year, and WVU’s top finishers at the Regionals, Matthew Sharpstene and Logan Perkins, who were tied for 22nd, are each sophomores.

So Covich is building something special at West Virginia, but he needs another huge piece to the puzzle before he can truly make the Mountaineers a national competitor – a true practice facility.

Since the Mountaineers restarted their golf program four years ago, Covich’s team has practiced at variety of local courses. When the weather doesn’t allow the golfers to get outside, they use a TrackMan Golf Simulator in a room in a University building on the Evansdale Campus.

West Virginia has plans in place to build a state-of-the-art practice facility, but before construction can begin, the money must be secured. It’s estimated that WVU will need $5 million to do the job right.

White Day golf course

West Virginia already has the site of the new home of Mountaineer golf picked out. It will use the 93 acres that used to be home to the White Day Golf Course.

Closed for a few years now, White Day is nine-hole course situated on the Monongalia-Marion County line on Route 73 less than four miles south.

“It will be five or six holes with different configurations. That way it will give us up to 27 different hole configurations,” explained WVU director of athletics Shane Lyons. “On top of that, it will have a range and a building with offices and a locker room and a study area and things like that. It will also have hitting bays where we’ll have garage doors that roll up, and as long as there’s not snow on the ground, they can work from a heated area and hit there.

“That facility would be a game changer and much needed for our golf program,” he added. “We’re in the best golf conference in the country, and if we want to compete with the likes of Oklahoma State (11 NCAA titles including 2018), Texas and Oklahoma, this is something that Coach Covich needs.”

West Virginia’s golf program certainly is on the rise, but to continue climbing, Covich desperately needs a true practice facility. WVU has the plans for one, but now it must complete the process. As Lyons likes to say, it can happen; all it takes is time and money.

Home forums WVU Golf Desperately Needs A ‘Game Changer’

This topic contains 20 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  mexman .

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  • #91054

    WVU Golf Desperately Needs A ‘Game Changer’ MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Sitting several miles south of Morgantown on Route 73, not far from the Goshen Road exit
    [See the full post at: WVU Golf Desperately Needs A ‘Game Changer’]

    #91110

    $5M isn’t much compared to what is needed for other programs.   When I started reading the article, my thought was WTF are we going to do with just 93 acres?  You’ll need a lot more than that.  It was more apparent as I read the rest of the article.  5 or 6 holes with different configurations is a novel idea.  You would think that the program would be better off working with the local courses and build out from there.  But mixing the public play with practice for the team has major problems.  You just couldn’t hold up public play for an hour as the guys work on their short game in from 100 yds.

    #91119

    Having the dedicated facility will be much better, and there will also be things like covered and heated bays for hitting in winter and bad weather, a dedicated locker rooom, etc.

    We’ve had the discussion about costs for each sport, new facilities, recruiting etc., I’ve issued a couple of FOIAs to WVU and am awaiting replies. Granted, $5 mil isn’t a lot compared to FB or BBall, but you also have to consider that golf is completely non-revenue other than specified donations. No ticket sales, etc. That’s true of a lot of sports, so you have to look at the money from that regard, rather than just as a comparison to other sports.

    I do hope money for this is raised quickly. It’s part of the $100 mil Climbing Higher effort that was announced last year.

    #91120

    Vital to the program. The difference between Oklahoma State and WVU in terms of facilities – OSU has JerryWorld as a home field and WVU plays at the local high school stadium. That’s the gap at the moment.

    #91140

    With 93 acres I wouldn’t mind seeing a world class practice facility and a great 9 hole course.

    At least in that scenario it could be operated as a revenue generating facility versus one that will have relatively significant annual expenses with little to no revenue stream.

    93 acres is plenty for everything the team needs and 9 holes. Of course that sentiment is delivered from 3000 miles away without having seen the land… just based on raw acreage.

    #91192

    93 acres for a 9 hole public may be fine, but add in a driving range with covered hitting areas plus grass hitting areas, putting greens, chipping greens and practice bunkers along with club house and private locker room and coaches rooms.   And adding in the multiple approach tee boxes to make it a multiple hole layout would put the squeeze on 93 acres.

    #91195

    Butler,

    15 acres is plenty for a great practice facility including covered bays and world class short game areas.

    That leaves 78 acres for 9 holes and some limted parking.

    As an example Merion Golf Club, in its entirety, occupies just over 125 acres.

    78 acres could yield a superb 9 hole course given the right designer.

    #91219

    In talking to WVU’s Shane Lyons in the past, WVU will not need all 93 acres. That’s the plot that they will have to buy, but the six-hole practice course won’t use nearly that much room. He didn’t say what they would do with the additional, unused land. Developers are wedging houses into every nock and cranny around Morgantown, so maybe that will eventually be sold off to become a housing development. It’s a little further out than most of the current developments popping up around Morgantown, but the relatively flat land would be perfect for that. I don’t know WVU’s ultimately use for that land, but it will have a lot left over after the practice course is constructed.

    #91229

    Makes sense to sit on the land and sell or develop it for other, more profitable, purposes.

    The lack of a true home course will still hurt recruiting to some degree but the program will always an uphill battle in that regard.

    #91234

    Mex, give me your guess on how much land WVU will probably need for the practice course. I know it will be not be exact.

    #91235

    Greg, given how described with multiple setups for each of the 5 or 6 green complexes I’ll assume they will use roughly 50 acres, maybe a little more. That said given it is dedicated to use by only a few people and this safety not a big issue it could be condensed from that number.

    Consider a 600 yard hole with a little under 50 yards width occupies about 5 acres. They could design 2 or 3 holes into that corridor playing to the same green complex.

    Criss cross some holes given the limited usage and you MIGHT be able to do it well on 30-35.

    #91287

    Mex, good information Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.

    #91289

    Is that burnt electrical smell Mex’s calculator?  🙂

    #91294

    My phone… same difference

    #91295

    One other thing about the home course – WVU hosts tournaments on the Pete Dye course north of Clarksburg — granted that’s some 25 miles from campus but it’s a great course.

    #91300

    True Kevin but most programs have a university course they call their own. OSU’s, as one might expect, is probably as good as any in the nation. Va Tech has a very good Pete Dye course of their own and on and on.

    Top flight practice course/facility will help immensely and the PDGC ties may be enough to keep the program on an upward trajectory.

    I was skeptical of Covich and obviously dead wrong.

    #91309

    Pete Dye is a great course.  There is another very good course that’s much closer.  Pikewood National would be a great venue if Raese and Gwynne could be convinced to bring the team in for a match.  #40 golf course in the country according to Golf Digest.

    #91311

    Pete Dye is a private club that allows the team access at times.

    Pikewood is a difficult course owned by guys that have largely cut ties with the university once they stopped profiting from the relationship. And it’s not about having a match… it’s about having a facility to call your own, lockers rooms… etc.

    Neither can approximate the on campus courses many programs have. That’s the difference.

    #91326

    I get it about your own facility, locker rooms, coaches rooms and teaching areas both inside and outside.  The Pete Dye is a great course.  Pikewood is also great and much closer.  But I doubt that the ownership would allow access on a regular basis.  It’s just not the type of private course that has this in it’s sights.

    Having a home course and playing it a couple times a week is a great advantage.  Is this something that can be done at The Pete Dye?  I score much better on a course that I play once a week than the ones that I play once or twice a year.

    Also get it with the owners of Pikewood National.  We can discuss the reasons for backing away from WVU on another forum.  IMO there was problems on both sides.  IMG got the whole bid.  WVRC only wanted the radio.   Ollie should have forced them to work together… Instead we get IMG and a LOT of $$$.  But the radio network is about as crappy as you can get.  Mostly all of the sub tier stations in the state.  ………………    Just my opine.

    #91341

    Like many matters that cause public debate, the deal that put WVRC on the sideline wasn’t at all well thought out.  Clearly, their portfolio of stations is much better than those aligned with IMG on the deal.

    But the sins in that whole fiasco were many and there was some sinning on both sides.  I think one side sinned more, but as Butler says best thrashed out on another forum.

     

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