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When you want to be ‘boss of the moss’

  • Kiah Hall now has an indoor practice green

    Thursday, April 26, 2018

    Lingering winter weather didn't hamper UMES golf management students from polishing their putting skills as they awaited the arrival of spring. 

    That's because they've been practicing in the friendly confines of the PGA-accredited program's new academic home, the second floor of Kiah Hall. 

    Specifically, the venue is a converted computer lab that doubles as the golf program's hands-on classroom where golf club repair skills are taught. 

    The conversion was underwritten by a designated allocation from the university's Green Collar Initiative underwritten by a $1 million gift from local utility Delmarva Power. 

    That mid-2016 gift drew attention to the energy-efficient Engineering & Aviation Science Complex, where the university's math faculty headquartered in Kiah Hall relocated after the new building opened earlier that year. 

    That exodus opened the door for the golf program to move out of its long-time locale in two cramped “temporary” buildings adjacent to the Student Apartments for the newly vacated space in Kiah Hall. 

    Shortly after the start of the spring semester, a monster roll of artificial turf resembling closely cropped grass on golf greens was brought in to simulate outdoor counterparts found in practice areas at most golf courses. 

    To make the 242-square-feet of putting surface realistic, installers used layers of strategically shaped Lauan plywood, a veneer sub-flooring, by inserting it under the carpet to create subtle undulations that mimic those on outdoor greens.

    Because the room had been used for computers, it already was fitted with an elevated floor to accommodate wiring. That extra space enabled the carpet installers to easily insert five regulation cups with accompanying flags scattered about the layout. 

    Chris Prosser, the golf program's internship coordinator, said he's been astonished by the indoor practice space's popularity with students in the short time it has been open. 

    “They're coming to me all the time asking me to unlock the door” so they can practice, Prosser said. 

    The indoor practice green, Prosser said, has practical applications as well; it also is used for classroom instruction. 

    “I feel extremely fortunate,” freshman John Belkov said. “When it's not optimal to practice outside on the most important part of the game, it's nice to have a place to come. We're very lucky to have this facility.” 

    To give it visual flair as well as a practical feel, a foot-and-half-wide strip of one-inch turf also was installed to replicate fringe, as it is known, so students can also practice chipping and bump-and-run shots.