Competition with Southern NCAA Division I golf programs has always been a challenge for Snow Belt programs.
Now, Bowling Green State University men’s golf coach John Powers and women’s coach Erin Fahey are grateful to have dedicated space within the confines of Doyt L. Perry Stadium for their players to develop their skills. game during the winter months.
Powers, a 2010 graduate of Bowling Green State University, was named head coach of BGSU’s men’s golf program in January 2018.
Fahey, also a former BGSU who virtually holds the record books from her days as a player, was named women’s golf coach on January 12.
As former Falcons, both recognize that leveraging technology can help golfers develop their game during the colder winter months.
The Falcon Golf Training Center, originally installed in 2009, features a state-of-the-art practice green, Trackman simulator system, team lounge and locker room.
Beyond practice opportunities, this space aims to provide a complete student-athlete experience for BGSU golfers and is an excellent recruiting tool.
Donations to the Men’s and Women’s Golf Improvement Fund will provide upgrades to team lounge furnishings, additional practice equipment and a second simulation system for the other bay.
“It’s just such a good place for both teams to practice a lot during the winter,” Powers said. “You can work on the full swing, putting, chipping and pitching, so pretty much every area of the game we can practice a bit.”
The training center is the equalizer
The BGSU men’s team has previously traveled this winter and early spring to compete in the Bahamas Invitational, Border Olympics (Laredo, TX), Colleton River Collegiate (SC) and Missouri Tiger Invitational.
The women’s team has competed in the Mid-American Play Challenge in Florida, Rio Verde Invitational (Arizona), HBU Husky Invitational (Texas) and Nevel Meade Collegiate (Kentucky) this season.
These events gave BGSU players a chance during the colder months to train, golf, and compete in warm weather, but student-athletes must also return to BG to attend school.
Players from top universities in the south can continue to play away while taking classes. The training center is the equalizer, Powers and Fahey said.
“It’s definitely a need. What has happened since it opened in 2009, players simply have the opportunity to train a lot more during the winter. We have a space that belongs exclusively to us and that the students use,” Powers said.
“When you have 20 students sharing it, it’s busy pretty much all day, every day, from 7 or 8 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m.
“Before we had this facility, we had to share resources on campus – which was great to have access to the course to hit golf balls and corner shots. However, we were very limited in terms of the time we could devote to it.
“So we only had an hour or two, a few days a week at that time. So we went from only allowing a few hours a week to practice indoors during the winter to as much as NCAA rules now allow. That’s a huge plus,” Powers continued.
“The players love the game and they want to be in training, in the facility, and so you can’t imagine a better place to train during the winter, especially without having another resource available in town.”
Powers noted that there’s also no three-story heated driving area a few minutes’ drive away, as you might see when driving through suburban Cleveland.
“These have become extremely popular in big cities,” Powers said. “It’s not like there’s another public facility open five minutes down the road that they can even pay to use.
“There are simply no other facilities available, which is why it is so important that we build indoor space and very good indoor space for our students.”
A training room, a study room, a meeting place
If you love golf, you’ll understand why college players love spending time there too. This is state-of-the-art simulation technology at its best, but not like the simulators you’ll find in a sports bar.
“As it’s set up right now, we also have another hitting area next to that. It’s not a simulator at the moment. It has a few places to hit golf balls, including a with the latest technology available,” Powers said.
“It’s the best you can get. On the other half it’s about a 1,500 square foot green with a good amount of space around the outside to lay mats to hit on, if we want to do it.
It is not only a place where players can train, but also a place to relax, unwind and study.
“Plus it gives guys and girls a break if they have to rest or open their computers to do homework or wait their turn because it’s busy in there all the time when the cold months pass,” Powers said.
If you haven’t been keeping up with golf training progress, there’s also a weight room nearby. It’s a big part of the game today.
“It’s very convenient for students to get out and work out. We have the weight room at the Sebo (Athletic) Center right next door, so it’s kind of a one-stop-shop for the winter months for our children.” said Powers.
Much of the cost was absorbed by the Men’s and Women’s Golf Improvement Funds.
“I guess when it was first put together I don’t know the exact numbers, but I was told it was around $100,000 to put this together initially,” Powers said.
“Since returning to Bowling Green in 2018, we’ve done, I’d say, about $70,000 to $80,000 worth of renovations and upgrades to our existing space.”