UM golf course renovations nearing completion

Since January, the University Golf Course has been closed. A major renovation is nearing completion as by July all that should be left is growing grass. The course is set to reopen in September.

"We're just about ready," said Gerald Barron, pro shop manager. "They're getting ready to resprig the greens, and also the fairways shortly after that. That's in July. Then we'll grow grass for six to eight weeks, and that will put us into September."

Ernest Ross, Ole Miss head men's golf coach, said he is excited about seeing the plans and renovations move along as they have.

"Having a reconstructed golf course will be a huge plus for our golf team," said Ross, who has led Ole Miss to back-to-back NCAA Regional Tournament appearances. "That's not only from a playing standpoint but also a player development standpoint."

Ross and UM head women's golf coach Michele Drinkard had no course to call home during the spring semester, which had its obvious disadvantages. Although they'll start the fall semester in the same shape, it won't be long into it that they'll have quite a showplace for their teams.

"Once completed it will be far superior to what we've had," Ross said.

The course was under the auspices of the athletic department for years. In the past few years, the University has taken it over, and the course is under the control of landscape services.

The course renovations will cost approximately 2.4 million dollars.

Most of the holes remain the same with a few changes. All the greens are restructured. The tee boxes had already been rebuilt seven years ago and have not been changed.

On three of the four par-five holes, fairway sand traps have been added. On the fourth hole, a par four, a new lake has been added and the green moved a bit to make the hole shorter. This was done so the tee on No. 8, a par four, could be extended and that hole made longer.

The 14th hole, the first of two par-fives on the back side, has been changed with a tee box added at the back to lengthen it 30 to 40 yards as well as trimming/reducing some trees at the corner of the dogleg. The green was moved a bit left, and a pond added on the right side of the green for a more challenging but fair hole.

Architect Nathan Crace, who redesigned the tees earlier, is the designer for the course renovation again.

The course will have all new electric golf carts. There are new cart paths that have been built to keep them out of play as much as possible.

A new state of the art irrigation system is being installed throughout the course. This will help with growing grass in the rough and assist in the definition of the fairways.

The public driving range will basically double in size. The Ole Miss golf teams have a practice area for driving and long iron play behind the Whitten Golf House, which is the home of the golf teams. A new practice area for the teams with a large bent grass putting green, and a 100-yard-in, short-game area with a Bermuda grass target green is being built in front of the Whitten facility as part of the current renovations.

This fall, the club house will be gutted and renovated. That is projected to be finished by the end of the calendar year.

"We're certainly appreciative of the University for giving the University and all of Oxford a great playing facility," Ross said. "We're very excited about seeing the finished product this fall."

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