Students react to golf simulators in previous racquetball courts

First-year Avery Barnes practices in the golf simulator.

Sasha Saxon|Marlin Chronicle 

On Jan. 17, President Scott D. Miller announced the opening of the Eric Nyman Performance Golf Center, two state-of-the-art golf simulators for VWU’s golf team. The center was donated by Eric Nyman, an alumnus of the university and a member of the Board of Trustees. Nyman is also the CEO of Revelyst Outdoors, which owns the golf company Foresight Sports. After a conversation with Miller, Nyman wanted to do something for the golf team.

The simulators were donated by Foresight Sports. The center, which is located in the Jane P. Batten Student Center, includes the simulators, lockers for the players, couches, chairs and TVs for the players to enjoy. The simulators sit in the rooms that previously held the racquetball courts. 

“The simulators are essentially an electric range that allows us to play golf courses, practice like we’re out on the range, but at the same time it collects our data,” Director of Men’s and Women’s Golf Tom Hall said. The ball and club data collected by the simulators makes it easier for the coaches and players to correct their mistakes and help improve their game. 

First-year Haley Davis commented on her favorite parts of the simulators. “You can select the course you want while adjusting any condition that you might play in. For example, you can adjust the weather, the altitude level, wind speed and direction, and even time of day,” Davis said. 

According to Davis, a lot of the courses in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC), have hills and mountains and now the players can replicate those courses in a couple clicks. “These functions really help to visualize my shot and ball flight under these conditions that I might not be able to see here in Virginia Beach,” Davis said. 

Henry Handley, a senior who used to be an avid racquetball player, commented on how he feels about the courts being taken away for the simulators. Handley would try to play once a day with his friends, most of whom he met through playing racquetball. 

When he found out that the courts were being taken away, he said he was shocked. “It seemed like a decision that was made without consulting the students at all. It feels like the university did not care that they were robbing a group of enthusiastic students of a fun and welcoming community,” Handley said. 

Along with a few other students, Handley tried to see if one of the demolished courts could be returned. “We were told to find somewhere else to play racquetball,” Handley said. 

Handley also said he felt that the removal of the racquetball courts is not only bad for the students and recreational sports, but it also puts a wider divide between students and the leaders of the university. “The higher ups have sent a message to campus loud and clear: If they make a decision about our home, then we better just deal with it,” Handley said. 

Despite Handley’s objections, the Golf team is excited for the opportunities that the simulators present.

With this space for the Golf teams, they can now focus on growing the team and recruiting players. “It’s more about the quality of the recruits that we’re bringing in,” Hall said. 

Hall wants to make sure the players they recruit are ready to play at an elite level when they arrive at campus. The goal is eventually to win the ODAC Championship. 

“We’re probably not there yet, but I think with having these new facilities, it’s going to give us the opportunity to bring in more competitive recruits,” Hall said. 

Davis echoed similar words to Hall. She believes that because of their technology they are ahead of most programs. “With these new additions, there is not a doubt in my mind that we will start to grow more and closer to a full roster as well as add more hardware to our shelves,” Davis said.

The golf teams start their spring season at the Pfeiffer Spring Invite from March 3 to 5 in Misenheimer, North Carolina.

By: Colette Kearney