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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Home sweet home: Golf program opens brand new facility

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Article Originally Published by Reed Smith on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Reed Smith on North Texas Daily

North Texas golf began a new era by opening their new facility on campus last week. Adjacent to the southeast side of Apogee Stadium, “Bruzzy’s UNT Golf Facility” shares the angular, chevroned architecture that has become the signature design for the university’s athletic complexes. 

Men’s golf head coach Brad Stracke, who is in his thirteenth year with the Mean Green, feels like his team finally has a place they can call home on campus. 

“The last few weeks when they put the finishing touches on [the facility], it’s been overwhelming because I have been waiting so long to have a facility,” Stracke said. 

In 2019, North Texas alumni and frequent booster of Mean Green golf, Jerome “Bruzzy” Westheimer donated $1.5 million to the program to build the facility. At the time of the proposal, it had been 16 years since the Eagle Point Golf Course – the team’s original facility – had closed. This left both North Texas teams without an on-campus home for 18 years until the time of opening last week.

Women’s golf head coach Michael Akers says the facility gives players a new sense of home and makes the players feel important.

“[The facility] makes [players] feel appreciated,” Akers said. “They have lockers, they have a building…it just makes them feel like they’re more a part of the athletic department I think.”

The new facility possesses two hitting bays that have swing analysis technology, virtual putting grounds, locker rooms, two coaches offices and space for the players to lounge. 

Reigning Conference USA champion and senior golfer Audrey Tan was amazed by the new facility as she entered for the first time. 

“It was just awe and shock, almost disbelief that [the facility] was all for us,” Tan said. “You look at all the bright lights, the trophies on display, and the big boards, it’s amazing.”

The coaches believe that the new facility opens up a couple of new advantages for the team, that range from connecting current players to enticing younger players to joining the program. 

“[The facility] is a game-changer for a number of reasons,” Stracke said. “It helps recruiting, it helps develop players and it helps the players come together as a group,” 

The facility is seen as a shining example of the team’s current and past accomplishments. Men’s golf has sustained success over the course of nearly a century with national championships in 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1952, while the women’s team has recently started making a name for itself as well through the accomplishments of alumni Lauren Cox and most recently, Tan.

“We’ve had a great tradition in men’s golf here,” Stracke said. “I think that [the facility] is a reward for the traditions we’ve had here at North Texas.”

Last year, the women’s team won their first-ever C-USA championship and made it to the NCAA Regionals behind the play of Tan, who won the C-USA individual championship as well. Despite their success, the regionals were controversially cancelled due to inclement weather. The men also nearly made it to the NCAA tournament, as sophomore Vincent Marzilio claimed the men’s individual championship, though the team itself was not able to earn itself a NCAA Regional berth.

With their recent success, some promising players and a brand new clubhouse, the future is looking bright for Mean Green golf. 

“We needed a facility for quite some time,” Stracke said. “It just makes you feel good, it’s a really neat facility they did, the administration did an excellent job creating this building and I’m so grateful for the university and it’s donors for making this happen.”

Featured Image: Women’s golf coach Michael Akers stands against a wall with the team’s achievements at Bruzzy’s UNT Golf Facility on Sept. 24, 2021. Photo by Julianna Rangel

Source: North Texas Daily

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