AUTHOR : ALEX BLAIR
Alex Blair joined the Texas Links staff in 2007 after graduating from the University of Texas. At Texas, he covered sports and served as associate editor of The Daily Texan, one of the state's largest daily newspapers.
He has been a fan of golf ever since he watched Payne Stewart sink an improbable putt to win the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. When he's not pounding the pavement for the magazine, he reads any golf book he can get his hands on and enjoys playing his own 9-hole pasture golf course in Hallettsville...affectionally known as "Hallettsville National."
He brought the skills, enthusiasm, love for the game and work ethic that it takes to help us put out the nation's best local golf magazines, but in 2010 Alex decided to go back to school to get his law degree at Notre Dame.
The University of Houston in June took the next step toward restoring its golf program to national prominence by breaking ground on a new 4,400-square-foot golf academy and practice center at one of the best and most popular golf hubs in southeast Texas.
Fifty-five years to the week from when UH won its first of 16 national championships, the first shovel went into the ground to start building The Dave Williams Golf Academy at Redstone Golf Club. Named after the legendary coach who won those 16 national titles in 33 years as coach of the Cougars, the new facility will be located near the first tee boxes on the northeast end of the club’s expansive driving range.
The groundbreaking is part of an ongoing relationship between Redstone and UH; the school and the golf club also recently reached an agreement to make Redstone the official home of UH golf. In addition to the state-of-the-art practice facility, the team will have locker room space at Redstone, which annually plays host to the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open. The Cougars will regularly practice and play at Redstone.
The academy will have four indoor-outdoor hitting bays with launch monitors and high-speed cameras to analyze every club in the players’ bags, including ultrasound technology to measure putting strokes. A three-dimensional biomechanical system will analyze and help refine the body’s movement throughout the golf swing.
The academy will be open to the public as well—Redstone’s Tournament Course is a public course; the adjacent Member Course is private—and custom-fitting sessions with all major golf manufacturers will be offered. Director of Golf Charlie Epps and his staff will be able to maximize players’ abilities with the best available equipment. Cost of the facility is estimated at $500,000.
“Playing on a home course like this with an addition like the Dave Williams Golf Academy gives our student-athletes an advantage against all other competition,” UH athletics director Mack Rhoades said.
Rhoades’ first hire at UH was golf coach Johnathan Dismuke, who is the fourth coach to take the helm since Williams stopped coaching in 1987. The innovative Williams—who invented the idea of putting players’ names on golf bags and recruited world-class players like Fred Couples, Steve Elkington, Jacky Cupit, Bruce Lietzke, Paul Marchand and so many others—made UH the most storied golf program in the country. It’s Dismuke’s job to restore that tradition.
“The technology in this facility and the athletes we’ll be able to recruit worldwide will put UH golf back out in front,” said Dismuke, who this season guided the Cougars to a fourth place finish in Conference USA in his second year on the job. “I’m pretty sure no other school makes their home at a club that hosts a PGA Tour event. When you’re able to sell to kids something that no one else has, it really helps.”
The new facility is expected to open in early 2012.