Golf training facility dedicated

Thomas Gallick

The golf program held a dedication ceremony Saturday for the private donors who funded the new $2.2 million Kent State University Golf Training and Learning Center.

Kent State President Lester Lefton opened the ceremony with a short speech praising golf director and men’s coach Herb Page’s dedication to creating a facility open for practice all year.

“It’s an exciting day for Kent State,” Lefton said. “This is really a state-of-the-art facility and it offers our golf team year round functionality.”

Lefton referred to the heated hitting stalls in front of a 350-yard driving range that allow players to practice in the winter months.

Senior golfer Tommy Wiegand said practicing in the cold weather is important, as the second half of the golf season begins in February.

“We used to have a disadvantage against southern schools because it snows here,” Wiegand said. “Now we have every advantage we could imagine.”

Page spoke after Lefton, and said the completion of the project was a long-term goal realized. He remembered practicing on the site of the building when he started playing golf for Kent State in 1970.

Page thanked the donors present, including former Kent State golfer Ben Curtis, who won the British Open Championship in 2003. Page said the project — started a year after Curtis’ win — could be called “the house that Ben built.”

Curtis donated the money used to build the wall of champions in the center of the facility, featuring memorials to all of Kent State’s All-American golfers and trophies from Curtis’ two non-major PGA Tour wins, the Booz Allen Classic and the 84 Lumber Classic in 2006.

He said the completion of the facility was an important day for the Kent State golfers, but especially for Page.

“It’s a great practice center that I wish I had when I went to school here,” Curtis said. “This is one of the best facilities in the country.”

Assistant coach Jan Dowling said the facility will include cutting-edge technology. The heated-hitting stalls were built to include video analysis monitors featuring a video database of over 10,000 swings of PGA and LPGA players.

The team would improve on their short game on a 2,500-square-foot indoor putting room, where the team can track every aspect of their putts by computer.

Dowling said the completion of the facility was a tribute to Page for his dedication to the men’s and women’s golf programs.

“This is Herb’s 30th year at Kent State, and he had always envisioned a facility like this for the golf program,” she said. “It’s great that we could help him to accomplish his goal.”

Page said he could not possibly thank all of the people responsible for the project, which he had been planning for years.

“Today is a dream come true,” Page said. “It’s way beyond any expectations that I had, or any expectations that anyone in our program had.”

Contact golf reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].