By John Torsiello
With golfers wanting more opportunities to work on their game, owners and management at The Country Club of Virginia decided it was time to move ahead with plans for a new practice facility. An ad hoc committee was put together several years ago, and the project was approved in 2018 – a year later, the first shovel was in the ground. Because the range had been under consideration for many years and a new indoor practice facility was still in the concept stage, a decision was made to execute the project in two phases. Planning for the building began in earnest in 2018 with the facility targeted to open in the spring of 2021.
“For a long time, there has been a desire to enhance the practice facilities at our club,” explained Anne Stryhn, Assistant General Manager. “COVID-19 has created a surge in golf rounds played, but that has not changed the importance of adding a superior practice experience. Our unique amenity will be a weatherproof way for golfers to maximize their limited time, yet still attain a quality practice experience that replicates play on the course.”
The new practice area was designed by Andrew Green of A. H. Green Design, with construction undertaken by Virginia-based McDonald & Sons, LLC. Range construction started in November of 2019 and the club held a grand opening last September. Construction of the new practice building began in July of 2020 and is expected to be complete by the end of next month.
Over 200 people came out for the opening of the range, and Stryhn says that usage has “not slowed down”. In fact, range usage has increased by 63 percent over the previous year.
“Feedback from members has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Stryhn. “It was also nice to hear professional players at the 2020 Dominion Energy Charity Classic compliment us on the improvements, noting that it was one of the best in the country.” CCV hosts the Dominion Energy Charity Classic annually as the first event in the Champions Tour playoffs leading to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup.
The lower short game practice green was established using ultra-dwarf bermudagrass rather than bentgrass to experiment for future use on the club’s courses. The upper short game area has two 777 (Triple Seven) bentgrass practice greens. One of the greens has a practice bunker that has the same sand as the club’s James River Course, and the other green has a practice bunker that mimics the bunkers on their Tuckahoe Creek Course.
“The Concept centered on providing a realistic practice experience,” explained Stryhn. “There were no target greens before and now there are six realistic and bunkered target greens in the practice floor.”
As mentioned, the new indoor practice facility is the final phase of the Tuckahoe Creek practice facility project. The building is roughly 5,000 square feet and includes a teaching bay and club fitting bay that will be equipped with TrackMan, Swing Catalyst and video analysis. There will also be SAM PuttLab and a Zen Golf adjustable putting stage with PuttView.
“We will also use Foresight GCQuad launch monitors in two of the practice bays, which will be convertible to simulators,” said Eric S. Layton, PGA Director of Golf Instruction at the club. The building will also be equipped with a snack bar.
“The renovation of the Tuckahoe Creek practice facility and addition of the Golf Performance Center will completely change the member practice and lesson experience,” Layton said. “Members will have the opportunity to take lessons and practice in all weather conditions. The practice experience at Tuckahoe Creek now provides members with diverse options, including an option to practice and receive data from Foresight GCQuad launch monitors that will provide information to drive their skills to newer heights.”
Christian Sain, Director of Golf and Grounds Maintenance for the club, offered, “This was an exciting project to be a part of. For the scale, it went remarkably well. The original practice range was 10 acres, while the new practice area occupies around 14 acres. I am proud of the new facility and look forward to members enjoying the new amenity.”
Said Nick Robinson, Golf Course Maintenance Superintendent/Project Leader, “It is always exhilarating to be involved with a project this large. To watch the landscape change from a hill and a field to a well-designed practice area with every shot angle possible is quite astonishing. We moved 60,000 cubic feet of earth and crushed 4,000 cubic yards of rock to create this masterpiece. Watching the members constantly use all aspects of what was created is very rewarding; it shows that all our hard work really paid off. This addition brings us to the next level of practice facilities.”
Stryhn said “the sky is the limit” with the possibilities the new facility presents. “The short game areas are large and well-designed and present boundless opportunities to engage golfers. The range provides a practice experience that simulates on-course situations.” She concluded that the new practice facility also adds to “overall membership value”, adding, “It is our hope that members and their guests find great enjoyment in the new facility.”