Alcorn State announces plans for golf course and teaching center on campus

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 15, 2001

LORMAN – The south side of the Alcorn State University campus doesn’t see much activity. There are no student dwellings or educational facilities. Just some clusters of trees, a few lakes, herds of cattle and deer.

In the coming months and years, those things will still be there. But something else will also be there: 21 golf holes.

&uot;Everybody who comes out here and sees that property says, ‘This is the perfect piece of property for a golf course,’&uot; said Dr. Benjamin Kraft, executive director of the Alcorn State University foundation.

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ASU is planning to construct an 18-hole public golf course and three practice holes for a youth golfers. A practice area complete with a driving range, putting green and chipping green is scheduled to be done this fall. And the First Tee Program will also be introduced in conjunction with the practice area opening.

The course will not only be for the enjoyment of residents in the Natchez-Vicksburg corridor, but the course will be a focal point of four new programs at the university: golf course management, environmental science, turf management and to a lesser extent, hospitality mangement. New buildings will be built for these programs for students to conduct research, with a learning center/clubhouse being the main building.

There is no timetable for completion of the course or facilities. The university is looking for donations from alumni and corporations and is applying for grants supplied by golf associations. The total cost of the golf course and facilities is estimated at $6 million.

First Tee Program

The important part of the golf course project, according to Kraft, is the start of the First Tee Program. The program is designed for children that have little exposure to the game. The Professional Golf Association, the PGA Tour, the Ladies PGA, the United State Golf Association are sponsors of the First Tee, among others. Tiger Woods’ father, Earl, helped to set up the first program at his alma mater, Kansas State University. The University of North Florida was the second school to have a First Tee. ASU will be the third.

&uot;It gives golf lessons to kids in the area, not only for them to learn to play golf but also life skills,&uot; Kraft said.

The program could start as early as this fall, if ASU receives grant money. &uot;As soon as we get money, we could put kids out there,&uot; Kraft said.

There will be three holes designed specifically for beginning youth golfers with instructors on hand to teach.

Not just a golf course

Kraft said other things will coincide with the golf course’s construction. The research facilities will allow students to study the environment on campus. A hiking and biking trail will wrap around the course. The trails will come from the Natchez Trace Parkway. The school is also thinking about building an amphitheatre that would sit near a lake and the 18th fairway.

&uot;It’s not just a golf course. It’s an Agri-Golf Center,&uot; Kraft said. &uot;We want to make it a real productive and attractive type of area.&uot;

Tough challenge

The golf course will be a challenging one. It will be a 6,935 yard par-71 course. Ther are only about five holes that will have water in play, but some holes are lengthy. The first hole is a 610-yard par five. The 18th hole is also a par five at over 530 yards.

There will be four tee boxes at each hole. Brandon Johnson is the course designer. Rick Maier, the course superintendent at Beau Pr\u00E9 Country Club, has said he will help ASU get the course ready, Kraft said.

The course has been Kraft’s project since he arrived at ASU in 1999. University president Clint Bristow had the course in his mind for a while, but Kraft was the man picked to make it a reality.

Local impact

ASU officials believe the course will be an important part to the area and the school. Currently, there aren’t any golf courses in Claiborne or Jefferson counties

&uot;Another objective is that we hope to increase the tourism to the area in the corridor from Natchez to Vicksburg,&uot; Kraft said.

Also, the Braves’ golf team has to practice at Duncan Park and Beau Pr\u00E9. The on-campus course would obviously ease travelling. ASU could also host more tournaments, Kraft said.

and possibly a NCAA golf tournament.


Out of 116 historically black colleges, ASU would be the only one with an on-campus golf course, Kraft said.