Back in November 2019, the North Texas Board of Regents approved of the construction for a new North Texas golf practice facility on campus. The facility covers 16.5 acres with the building itself expected to be 5,000 square feet. It is located on the former grounds of the Eagle Point golf course, which was shut down in 2003.
The new practice facility will be the new home for both programs’ coaches’ offices, men’s and women’s locker rooms, a virtual putting green, study area, nutrition station and a players’ lounge.
“I think it’s going to be a game-changer for both programs and make improvements for recruiting,” men’s golf head coach Brad Stracke said. “To be at Victory Park and walk across the street to have the practice facility, as well as a hangout place, it’s an all-exclusive deal for us.”
Both golf programs have not had a home golf facility on campus since the Eagle Point course shutdown, where construction of the North Texas Athletic Center and Apogee Stadium has since occurred.
North Texas officially broke ground with the construction of the facility in May, where completion of the entirety of the facility is expected in 10 months. As of September 2020, the putting and chipping greens in the facility will be the first available resource of use within the next few weeks, while the fairway and the building itself are expected to be completed within the 2021 calendar year.
Junior women’s golfer Audrey Tan says the opportunity to play for a program with a new practice facility under construction is a blessing and reminds her of the program’s improvements.
“It’s a blessing to have something like this for our program and getting the opportunity to have all the stuff in the new facility is great,” Tan said. “We’re very excited and this will make things much easier for planning practices and keeping things simple.”
Recently both North Texas golf programs have practiced in different courses. The women’s team mostly practiced at Wildhorse Golf Club in Robson Ranch or Bridlewood Country Club in Flower Mound, while the men practiced at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrolton.
Practicing at the off-campus golf facilities meant the players had to travel as a team in a commute as long as 30 to 45 minutes to their respective courses.
With the new facility on campus grounds, sophomore men’s golfer Zak Karkaletsos says the practice routine will work out in the players’ favor and will save time.
“There’s times where we have four-hour practices and have to set aside an extra 45 minutes just to fight traffic to get to Maridoe,” Karkaletsos said. “Even though the [Maridoe facility] is nice, it’ll be a game-changer to walk over to the new facility and get in some quick practice and hang out there when we have the opportunity.”
Women’s golf head coach Michael Akers says the two teams don’t spend a lot of time around each other due to differentiating practice schedules. While sharing the facility, he expects the two teams to bond and create a friendly competition once the teams get settled in the building.
“I’ve known [Stracke] for many years and been good friends with him, we both know this will be good for both programs in an effort for the players to get to know each other,” Akers said. “This will create a sort of competitive environment where the players can feed off of each others’ strengths.”
What makes the new practice facility unique is the entertainment and casual experience in the players’ lounge. Stracke says this is what will pull in recruits and help the program standout.
“The recruits want a close-knit family and in order to have that they’ll need a place to call home,” Stracke said. “If you have a building that you go to a lot and hang out with the team playing ping pong or just practice on your own in between classes, it makes things easier to have that family atmosphere.”
The venue will be named after longtime North Texas donor Jerome Max “Bruzzy” Westheimer, who donated $1.5 million of the $3 million total construction costs.
“[Westheimer] is incredible and shows great generosity,” director of athletics Wren Baker said in the November 2019 Board of Regents meeting. “When you ask what he wants in return, all he says is that he wants the players to have a great experience. The impact he has made is hard to put into words. No one has had a bigger impact on any sports program we have than he has had on golf.”
Westheimer has made numerous contributions to North Texas and Mean Green Athletics as a donor. He serves on multiple organizational boards for the school which include the North Texas Alumni Association, McConnell Society, an Emerald member of the North Texas Kuehne Speaker Series Board of Directors and a member of the President’s Leadership Board.
Featured Image: Construction on the new golf practice facility, located near Apogee Stadium, continues on Sept. 15, 2020. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia