After the closing of the museum in Enterprise Square USA in 1999, the space has been used as an art gallery, classroom and the site for the American Citizenship Center. Recently, however, simulator bays and a putting and chipping green have taken over the empty space, as the Oklahoma Christian University golf team’s Junior Lorentz Golf Center was pronounced open last week.
Most of the indoor facility was completed in January, but Oklahoma Christian held a formal dedication and ribbon-cutting on September 16 to honor Junior and Cynthia Lorentz, who donated $250,000 to the project.
“There is no other indoor practice facility like ours in the state of Oklahoma at any university, regardless of the level,” Oklahoma Christian Director of Golf David Lynn said. “It is a huge asset to recruiting, both because of the impact it will have on helping student athletes get better at golf, and because it gives the team a place to call their own.”
According to Lynn, the golf program looked for a place on the Oklahoma Christian campus to house or build an indoor facility, but there were too many challenges to build a structure from scratch.
“We were very fortunate to secure some existing space in Enterprise Square that we just had to remodel to fit our needs,” Lynn said. “Weather, class schedules, golf course schedules and NCAA practice rules all affect when we can get out to the course. The indoor allows the kids a place anytime they need it, day or night.”
The facility features four simulator bays, which use launch monitors, screens and projectors to allow golfers to play rounds on different courses and practice on the range. A 3,000-square-foot putting and chipping green, coaches’ offices and a storage area are also part of the facility.
Sophomore Casey Rebmann said he thinks the new indoor facility will help bring more prospective golf players to the Oklahoma Christian campus.
“We had a prospective recruit who came last fall on his visit while the facility was still under construction,” Rebmann said. “It wasn’t anywhere close to completion, yet he was still floored by the prospect of having this as a practice tool for his entire career. He ended up committing a few days later, so already we have seen the power that the indoor facility has in helping us recruit.”
Sophomore Elizabeth Freeman said with the unpredictable Oklahoma weather, the new facility will also prove key in order to gain maximum practice time before the spring season.
“The best part about the indoor is that we can practice no matter what the conditions are like outside,” Freeman said. “It has just been an absolute blessing. I love having a place where I can go just to hang out or to work on my game.”
As both the men and women’s teams prepare for their second season as a NCAA Division II squad, Rebmann said he thinks the facility will give them a considerable edge over other programs in the area.
“It’s something every one of us takes a lot of pride in having on campus and I believe it is going to be essential to our success at the DII level,” Rebmann said. “Not only do we use it to practice, but we can also study and hang out with one another, which has added a great deal of camaraderie to what was already a very good team dynamic. We are extremely blessed to have a facility that we can all call home.”
The Lady Eagles will continue their fall season at the Bob Hurely ORU Shootout in Tulsa, while the Eagles will compete in the Bison Fall Invitational in Shawnee, OK, and the Missouri Southern Men’s Fall Invitational in Monkey Island, OK. Both teams compete today and tomorrow.
Statistics provided by the Oklahoma Christian University Sports Information office.