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.
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.
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.