May 15, 2008

New golf course on N.C. State campus is taking shape

The Lonnie Poole Golf Course, an Arnold Palmer design, is about 65 percent complete, on schedule and on budget 

By Chip Alexander, News & Observer

RALEIGH - While the first official tee shot won't be struck for another 10 months or so, the new golf course on N.C. State's Centennial Campus appears to be shaping up -- on schedule and on budget.

Chip Watson of Carolinas Golf Group, a Raleigh-based management company that will oversee operations of the Lonnie Poole Golf Course, said Wednesday the $16 million project was about 65 percent complete. Seeding of the course and sodding around the sand bunkers will begin in the next few weeks, he said.

The public course, which will play to a par of 71 and stretch 7,200 yards from the championship tees, is an Arnold Palmer signature design. Palmer was in Raleigh for the ground-breaking ceremony in July and returned to walk the rolling terrain and offer suggestions in December.

"We haven't had any problems and are right on schedule," said Watson, who conducted a tour of the course property Wednesday. "Once everything is grassed, we're pretty much done. Then it's just everything growing in. We hope to have the course open in March or April."

Becky Bumgardner, executive director of NCSU university development, said the naming rights for all 18 holes were sold. The first, 10th and 18th holes had $150,000 naming rights and the other 15 holes were $100,000, she said. The 18th hole has been named for former Wolfpack quarterback Roman Gabriel.

Poole, an NCSU graduate and founder and chairman of Waste Industries, gave a $3 million gift for the course naming rights. Bumgardner said other major naming-rights opportunities remain for the clubhouse ($1.6 million) and the research and training center ($1.6 million).

"We have a two-acre pond available for $75,000," she said, smiling.

Bumgardner said in-kind gifts have helped with the course construction. She said Gregory Poole Equipment Co. of Raleigh contributed the Caterpillar equipment being used and that Pender Nursery in Garner would handle the landscaping.

The course is the first university layout built by the Palmer Course Design Co., Bumgardner said. Erik Larsen and Brandon Johnson, both NCSU graduates and course architects for the company, were instrumental in the course's design.