A short-game practice facility that is expected to be a feather in the cap of the UC Davis golf program will be constructed at El Macero Country Club.
Construction, due to begin in two weeks, will be funded by alumni, families and friends of the Aggie men’s and women’s links teams. It will cost $250,000 and be maintained by the club, according to outgoing El Macero general manager Rich Riffle.
“(Men’s coach) Cy Williams has been the force behind this,” said Riffle, adding that his club’s members also will have access to the facility. “It really solves both of our needs … making it a world-class destination for UCD recruits.”
To be called the Aggie Short-Game Training Center, the layout will feature chipping, bunker and pitching areas that can provide “every type of short-game shot.”
A wedge range — with multiple targets at varying distances — and two putting greens also are part of the project.
Riffle says the facility will be built between the first and 10th holes near Putah Creek.
Both Aggie golf programs call El Macero their home course and Williams says “other golf courses and golf teams will definitely want to emulate this.”
“Currently, when we practice, we are very limited in our ability to get on a real green and hit chips and pitches because of the high traffic of golfers on the course,” Williams explained. “This state-of-the-art training facility gives us a dedicated short-game area where we can go out and spend hours working on the shots that ultimately make the most difference in a round of golf.”
UCD women’s coach Anna Temple weighed in:
“This facility is not only a tremendous tool for the development of our current student-athletes, but is also an asset in recruiting great players to come and compete for UC Davis. It’s a huge step in continuing the excellence of Aggie golf.”
El Macero board member Bob Bullis added: “This facility is clearly a win-win for El Macero Country Club and the UC Davis golf programs. We share a goal to provide membership and collegiate golfers the best possible facilities that we can. This will enhance an already wonderful course.”
Bullis retired as senior associate athletics director of UCD in 2009.
Two Northern California powerhouses — Stanford and California — have benefitted mightily from their short-game practice facilities.
In 2004, the Cardinal began construction of its layout and three years later won the national championship. The Golden Bears — who have made five straight trips to the NCAA final eight — opened their short-game set-up in 2008.
“Last year, (Cal) had arguably the best season in the history of college golf,” pointed out Williams, who noted that his Aggies in 2005-10 “beat Cal seven times … since then, we’ve beaten them only once.”
Cal lost to Illinois in the 2013 match-play semifinals in Atlanta.
Cal’s short-game facility at Metropolitan Golf Links cost $500,000 and the school pays $40,000 to maintain it, according to Williams. At El Macero, the country club will maintain the site.
Notes: Donations to the men’s golf program should be payable to UC Regents with “UC Davis Men’s Golf Development Fund” on the memo line. Send donations in care of Mike Angius, UCD Athletic Development, One Shields Ave., UC Davis. … Golfstat ranks UCD women 41st in the land; the men are 69th. El Macero Country Club is managed by Troon Privé, which runs a handful of courses worldwide (including Fieldstone CC (Delaware), Silver Creek (San Jose), Cranbourne South (Australia) and London’s Bearwood Lakes Golf Club).