While construction on campus is usually rather obvious, some of the most important projects go largely unnoticed.
The golf programs at Capital have a new practice area thanks to the efforts of Head Coach Andy Garcia. Garcia, who was also a golfer at Capital, has been working on converting an unused space on the lower level of Trinity Lutheran Seminary into a new practice space.
The process began when Capital’s home course, Oakhurst Country Club in Grove City, closed unexpectedly toward the end of the 2018 fall season. With this sudden closing, both men’s and women’s golf also lost their indoor practice facility. Garcia said that he was proactive in finding a new space, and spoke with Facilities about vacant spaces on campus.
“It’s got a little bit of character and a country club feel to it,” Garcia said regarding the newfound practice space in the former bookstore.
The bookshelves have been converted into cubbies in which Capital’s golfers can store their clubs, and synthetic putting greens line the floors. Two nets into which golfers can practice their drives stand near the far side of the new area. Storage space, as well as practice space, eliminates Garcia’s athletes having to continually carry their clubs back and forth across campus.
Garcia has put a healthy amount of his own money and manpower into improving the new practice space, installing the turf himself with the help of some of Capital’s male golfers.
“We need as much space as we can get,” Garcia said, who coaches both teams. Garcia said that in addition to needing more room for his existing teams, he is expecting a large recruiting class.
A new practice space will not only be a better fit for his existing teams, but will make Capital’s golf program more marketable to potential recruits, especially in comparison to other Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) schools.
“When you’re able to sell this to potential recruits,” Garcia said of the new space, “this room itself … I just think it’s definitely something that we have here to sell that nobody else in the OAC is really going to be able to do.”
The practice space is already beginning to pay off, but Garcia has even bigger plans for the area. He eventually wants to cover the entire floor in turf, adding to the putting greens that take up the middle of the floor.
Garcia also has grand plans for a vacant space on the north side of the room to become a golf simulator; however, the cost of such a simulator puts the actual acquisition of such an upgrade well into the future.
In addition to the new practice space, Crusader golf has also found a new home course. Heritage Golf Club in Hilliard, who Garcia said “has been nothing but accommodating,” is ranked as one of the hardest courses in the central Ohio area. Garcia adds that playing on a challenging course will surely lend a sort of home-field advantage.
Advantage will be welcome as the team begins the second half of their season. Both the men and the women will be kicking off their spring seasons on Feb. 25 at the Faulkner Spring Invite in Montgomery, AL.
Looking ahead to conference play, Garcia believes that both teams can finish in the top three. He cites Otterbein University as tough competition across genders, and also mentions the women’s team from the University of Mount Union as a worthy but catchable adversary.
Judging by the confidence Garcia has in his athletes and the new indoor practice area, there is no doubt that the facilities, as well as Capital’s golfers, have taken a step forward.