By this time next year, competitive golfers at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville will have access to indoor training facilities that college officials say will be on-par with any in the nation.
The $350,000 first phase of the Harry Gallatin SIUE Golf Practice Facility will be funded entirely through private donations and in-kind trades services, according to a release by the university, and will be located at Sunset Hills Country Club.
“I believe strongly that a key element in the future of higher education is the pursuit of university/community partnerships,” said SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook. “This is an excellent example of such a mutually beneficial approach.”
The first 2,200 square feet will include three indoor hitting bays, a video training system, an indoor putting green and large overhead doors that can open the facility into a driving range. It should be ready for use by early 2019, as the men’s team begins its spring season.
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Future phases will include an outdoor synthetic putting surface, additional tee boxes for the driving range and a 1,500-square-foot indoor chipping facility. Those additions will cost between $210,000 and $255,000 and will be constructed as the private funding is raised, said SIUE Athletic Communications Director Eric Hess.
The facility will be named in honor of Harry Gallatin, SIUE’s first athletic director and longtime golf coach. He also coached men’s basketball for three seasons.
Gallatin, a native or Roxana, previously played 10 seasons in the NBA for the New York Knicks and the Detroit Pistons and was a seven-time All-Star. He was an All-NBA first team selection in 1954, after leading the league in rebounding with 15.3 per game. He was an All-NBA second team pick in 1955.
“We’re elated to see dad’s final project fulfilled at Sunset Hills Country Club,” said Jim Gallatin. “After his basketball career was over, playing and coaching golf became his athletic passion. The university and Sunset Hills combined to facilitate his efforts. Their commitment to his passion and vision is realized in this facility.
“We appreciate all the donors who have contributed and are proud to have this development in dad’s honor.”
The Cougars recorded their highest finish in 2018, placing third in the Ohio Valley Conference. SIUE entered the 2018 tournament with the best scoring average in the OVC at 290.7.
“The features of our new facility will provide the tools for us to continue to be successful,” SIUE golf coach Derrick Brown said in a release. “It will be great for our young men to have an indoor facility to call home that is located so close to campus.
“The capability to show new recruits a facility of this caliber will greatly enhance our recruitment of high-performing student-athletes.”
SIUE cut the women’s golf program after 2016.
Major donors of the project include John Simmons, Tom Allen, and Mike and Corey Wenzel. Other significant backers are Harry and Bev Gallatin and TheBANK of Edwardsville, along with in-kind contributors Alan Grammer and Dale Keller.