At one time, it was said that, "the sun never sets on the British Empire." Soon, the sun may always shine for the VCU Golf program.
On Sept. 15, VCU dedicated the William G. Reynolds Jr. VCU Indoor Learning & Practice Golf Center at The First Tee of Richmond. The 1,000-square foot, state-of-the-art golf center will feature computerized hitting bays, putting greens and more. The facility will allow the Rams, eight-time Colonial Athletic Association Champions, to train any time of year, rain or shine.
"We've got the technology that we need, and I really like to use in the winter time for making changes to their golf games," said VCU Head Coach Matt Ball. "We've always been kind of haphazard, just kind of pulling things together. Now we'll have it all in one place and we can get down to business and not waste time figuring how we're going to do certain things."
As part of their community outreach, VCU Golf will continue to work with the First Tee program at the facility throughout the year.
The Reynolds Center will allow VCU to avoid situations similar to this past winter, when the Richmond area was pounded with more than four feet of snow.
"We didn't have anywhere to hit balls or anything," Ball said. "We kept getting snow. We missed a ton of golf. We missed a ton of practice, and then we went down to our first tournament and didn't play very well.
"We've always come out of the fall with a good ranking and then you have a bad showing in the first tournament of the spring. It hurts our rankings, and then it steamrolls into problems getting into the NCAA Tournament."
The $350,000 facility is being funded completely through private donations, including a generous lead gift from the Richard S. Reynolds Jr. Foundation. William "Billy" Reynolds, for whom the building is named, was a long-time supporter of the VCU Golf program. The Reynolds family and Foundation has also provided an endowment, the Reynolds-Bell Scholarship for Golf.
Additionally, Mark Hourigan of Hourigan Construction made a major gift to provide design plans, materials and manage the overall construction of the facility. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas G. Rosenthal, Gilbert and Fannie Rosenthal and an anonymous donor also provided gifts critical to the project.
With the new facility in place, VCU is positioning itself as a college golf destination. It's part of a 10-year master plan for the program, which included the addition of a Mercedes Luxury Cruiser in 2008 to accommodate the team's travel needs.
"VCU has made a financial commitment and a staffing commitment that we want to be a big-time player in college golf," Ball said. "We've been squeaking into the NCAA Tournament, but we want to get better. That's not good enough, and it takes facilities and commitment in order to do those types of things."
VCU Athletics is still in the process of fundraising for facility, including maintenance and upkeep. If you are interested in supporting these projects, you can contact Andrew Hartley, Associate Athletic Director for Major Gifts, by phone at (804) 828-1726 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.