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SMU, Chattanooga latest to work on practice facilities

The arms race among college golf programs to build the newest, biggest, fanciest courses/practice facilities doesn't seem to have been curbed too much by a sagging economy. At least that's the impression I get from having my e-mail inbox the past week.

Officials at SMU announced last Monday that they had broken ground on the Payne Stewart Learning Center at Dallas Athletic Club. The Center, expected to be completed at the end of 2010, will consist of a teaching facility with two indoor hitting bays and state-of-the-art video swing analysis equipment; a team clubhouse that will include locker rooms for the men's and women's programs as well as a "Hall of Champions"; and a four-hole short-game course by Nicklaus Design.

The news came not long after Chattanooga's athletic department unveiled that it had also broken ground on a new player development facility for the Mocs' men's and women's programs. The project calls for a 10-acre, double-sided practice range with four auxiliary short-game practice areas as well as a three-hole practice course. The facility is being worked on in conjunction with The First Tee of Chattanooga with the first phase expected to be completed this fall.

Several programs continue to have facilities in the works or near completion. N.C. State's Lonnie Poole GC is set to open this fall. Ohio State already has the Scarlet Course but will have a 26,000-square-foot practice facility ready for the Buckeye men and women to use starting next January.