Lehigh's new golf facility includes two practice greens and a driving range.
This past summer, Lehigh broke ground on its latest Integrated Learning Experience (ILE) project, a golf driving range and practice facility designed by students, for students and the greater Lehigh community.
The complex completed in late fall could eventually jump-start the creation of an executive "teaching" golf course that enables Lehigh to do what it does best -- educate those who are willing to learn.
The athletics ILE program, directed for more than a decade by economics professor Vince Munley and dean of athletics Joe Sterrett, spawned the creation of several of Lehigh's existing athletics facilities, most notably the Ulrich Sports Complex and the redesign of the cross country course.
The new golf facility features two practice greens (one for putting and one for chipping and bunker shots), a driving range, and a unique pavilion that allows golf on rainy days.
"The athletics facility ILE projects are generally selected by the athletics department based upon master planning considerations and project priorities," says Sterrett. "A golf practice complex has been a need for many years since we do not have a place to practice golf, though we do have a great place to play rounds of golf," referring to Lehigh's home matches at Saucon Valley Country Club.
Once the project was identified as a key departmental need, Munley and Sterrett recruited teams of students from across academic disciplines to attack the project over a period of years. When students graduated, they passed down their feasibility studies and proposals. The students truly researched every aspect of the project, including a detailed analysis of sprinkler systems and pumping station needs completed by civil engineering students; financial models created by business students; and final project reports penned by journalism students.
"My students tell me they do more work in this course, but that the rewards are really worth it," says Munley. "Likewise, I get to step outside the classroom and be a coach and mentor, not just someone who lectures. Everyone benefits from the experience enormously."
The men's and women's golf teams are the obvious beneficiaries, getting a new practice complex. The athletics department envisions that faculty and staff will also have access to the complex when it's not in use by varsity athletes.
An anonymous donor has funded the initial project, and Sterrett believes that the complex can sustain itself at a "break-even" point so as to not require investment by the university. Should the university decide to build the nine-hole executive teaching course, this too would require a self-sustaining financial operations model -- giving Lehigh students yet another interesting ILE project to tackle.
Lehigh Alumni Bulletin