Drive for show, putt for dough.
That sums up the importance of the short game for most golfers, and members of UVA’s men’s and women’s golf teams would be hard pressed to find better facilities to practice pitching, chipping and putting.
“This is, I would have to bet, as good as any university golf course practice facility in the country,” says Martin Winters (Col ’95), director of golf operations at Birdwood Golf Course. “It’s phenomenal.”
Kim Lewellen, head coach of the UVA women’s golf team, appreciates the benefit for her players. “The short game, 100 yards and in, makes up 70 percent of one’s round of golf,” she says. “We are fortunate to have such an outstanding practice short-game facility at Birdwood to hone those scoring shots.”
Designers carved out the tees, greens and bunkers on 4½ acres that once served as a sort of natural nursery. The greens meet USGA specifications, and one is used solely for putting.
“We built it relatively flat so you can work on mechanics,” Winters says.
Different grasses—Bermuda and some rye—combine with varied slopes to give golfers all kinds of challenges—downhill flops, uphill lobs, digging out of deep sand or thick rough, hitting from steep slopes.
Though the facility is not open to the public, players in the Birdwood Golf Academy and various junior golf camps also use it. “It’s a real asset for all of us, to be able to practice the short game,” Winters says. “And that’s really what golf is all about.”