One word came to Ball State men’s golf head coach Mike Fleck’s mind at the groundbreaking ceremony of what will become Earl Yestingsmeier Golf Center.
“I don’t want to say this, but I’m going to say this — finally,” Fleck said.
It was a project that has been years in the making, and on Thursday afternoon Fleck, women’s golf head coach Katherine Mowat, Interim President Terry King, athletic director Mark Sandy and several donors shoveled the first scoops of dirt into the air to signify the start of a new era for golf at Ball State.
“Our golf coaches visited four or five [indoor golf facilities] about two years ago, kind of looking at ideas and how we wanted to do it,” Sandy said. “I think in our conference it will be as good as any, and certainly won’t be as large as some of the ones in the power five conferences, but as far as the detail and what we’re going to put into it, it will be as good as all of them in the country.”
The $1.7 million facility is funded entirely by donations and is expected to be completed by December 2017.
The namesake of the new center, Earl Yestingsmeier, coached Ball State men's golf for 36 years, from 1963 until 1998. He also served as the sports information director for 31 years, starting in 1959. He passed away in 2014.
The facility will allow the golf teams to practice year-round and simulate any course around the world.
“[This facility is] a wonderful thing," Mowat said. "As golf coaches we kind of do our own thing off campus at private golf courses and traveling around the community, but to have a facility on campus that has all the support [this does, coupled with] the turnout today, just shows the interest there is in the success of our programs.”
Both coaches said they're excited about the new facility, which will be located on Bethel Avenue, just west of Northside Middle School.
“We’ve done a ton of research so I think this going to be one of the state-of-the-art facilities in the midwest,” Fleck said. “Obviously with the technology and what’s going to be inside the building, it’ll be cutting edge.”
Both coaches and Sandy noted the positive impact the facility will have on recruiting new talent for the golf programs going forward.
“I think that year-round it gives a place to focus on and is a nice visual addition to the campus,” Sandy said. “People will say, ‘Golf is important [at Ball State], they’ve got a new facility, [and it’s] state-of-the-art.’ And then we bring recruits to campus, Ball State has a wonderful campus and this is just another addition.”