Last Update :10/31/2016
Richmond First Tee Practice Facility,Re-Designed By Lester George Opening in November
Richmond First Tee Practice Facility, Upgraded and Re-Designed By Lester George Opening This Month
Golf Course Architect Lester George of George Golf Design is making comprehensive alterations to upgrade the Richmond First Tee's Elson Redmond Memorial Driving Range at School Street, near Downtown Richmond, to create a modern practice facility that will help golfers of all ages and abilities hone their skills. The Richmond City Council unanimously approved the extension of The First Tee of Greater Richmond's Operating and Maintenance Lease in late June, allowing the School Street renovation project to move forward. The driving range has remained open for the summer, but the course has been closed for renovations and opened in late September.
Lester George, the original architect of the facility known for his ingenuity in golf practice facility design, was invited to return to the site and design the improvements. George's relationship with The First Tee goes back almost two decades to the inception of the foundation. Over the years, he has designed more than a dozen First Tee facilities, including one of the original courses, in Chesterfield County, Virginia. The Richmond First Tee facility was the 100th First Tee course in the country and was ceremoniously opened by the original Honorary Chairman of The First Tee, former President George Herbert Walker Bush.
Sometimes called the "practice guru" for his innovation and leadership in practice design, Lester George travels the country speaking to Golf Range Association of America (GRAA) boot camps, sharing his expertise in the creation of practice facilities and teaching golf professionals and executives how to provide more practice options for their players while facing financial and logistical challenges.
"Learning and practice are entry points to the game, and with the economic downturn in the golf industry practice is often the activity of choice for golfers who love the game but might not be able to afford a golf membership or a full round of golf at a daily fee golf course," said George.
The Richmond First Tee site has been renovated to restore and upgrade two 3-hole loops (one for adults, one for children), re-establish turf, convert the greens to Bermuda grass, and to upgrade the bunkers. Once finished, the facility will provide more interactive teaching and learning opportunities, including serving as a practice facility for the Virginia Commonwealth University golf team, which has won the Atlantic 10 Championship three years year in a row.
Of the renovation, VCU Head Golf Coach Matt Ball said, "The approach Lester had taken is creating a dynamic, fun, diverse, great practice facility for all of the Richmond community, especially for the First Tee golfers and the VCU Golf Team. It will allow us to be creative with practice & how we develop our players while giving us great turf quality to prepare for tournament competition. The team will also have private areas without having to fight traffic. This facility will also help us recruit players for the team."
"The Richmond golf community needs genuinely educational practice options for players that simulate real conditions on the golf course," said George. "The Richmond First Tee facility is a one-stop shop with everything needed to learn, practice, and play golf in a place that's convenient to downtown. Patrons can fit in some quick practice or a short loop during their lunchbreak - and local children who would otherwise not have access to the game of golf will have all of the equipment, technology, and instruction they need to genuinely learn the game."
About Lester George: A Board member of the esteemed American Society of Golf Course Architects, internationally renowned golf course architect, Lester George, has quite a versatile resume. In addition to his award-winning new course designs, has developed a niche in renovating and restoring classic golf courses designed by some of the most revered golden age architects. He has worked on everything from plains to steep, rocky terrain to brownfield and environmentally challenging sites, including a course under which thousands of unexploded bombs were discovered once excavation began - and he has become somewhat of a master at designing practice facilities that offer a realistic experience for golfers. George's Kinloch Golf Club is the highest ranked golf course in the history of Virginia, having won countless awards. Ballyhack Golf Club is rated # 7 in the state by Golf Digest and was on several top ten Best New Course lists. The Old White Course at The Greenbrier was honored as Golf Digest's Best New Remodel and now hosts a PGA Tour event; the James River Course at The Country Club of Virginia was the #5 Best New Remodel; and Willow Oaks Country Club was one of Golf Digests' Best New Remodels of 2009. Most recently, Lester's renovation of Independence Golf Club was listed as one of Golf Digest's Top 10 Best Remodels of 2015.
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