A Home for Wildcats Golf

Vision Comes to Fruition for State-of-the-Art Facility

By Steve Rivera

Ginny Clements has a pretty good idea what her late husband, William M. “Bill” Clements, would think of the new facility built at Tucson Country Club for the Arizona Wildcats golf program.

“He would be honored with this,” said Ginny Clements, the lead donor who is instrumental in the naming gift for the facility with her husband’s name. “He loved to play golf and he loved to help the University of Arizona. He loved uplifting the program.”

UArizona unveiled its newest crown jewel, the William M. “Bill” Clements Golf Center,  with a $14.8-million price tag, all donor funded. The building is about 7,500 square feet with another 2,000 square feet covered by canopies.

There were many who played a part, said Brent Blaylock, who supervised the project’s progress as UArizona senior associate athletic director before leaving for Oregon State. He thanked Douglas Fredrikson Architects, local partners Concord General Contracting, Lori Carroll & Associates, EEC Engineering and Environmental Consultants, Inc., ARC Studios Inc. and Graphic Impact for their contributions to the success of the project.

They all helped the men’s and women’s golf teams find a home after years of traveling from golf course to golf course in temporary homes.

Now, the Wildcats – behind Ginny Clements and other donors – have a state-of-the-art facility with new locker rooms, coaching offices, putting greens and an outdoor driving range. It has a short-game area for chipping and putting. The facility also includes the Jim Furyk Golf Lab, which features Putt View technology, named after the Wildcats alum and past U.S. Open champion.

“We are proud that we didn’t just build a space that was solely functional or aesthetically pleasing,” said Blaylock. “We instead created a space that is both highly functional for our student-athletes and staff as well as having tremendous design elements.”

What’s not to love for a venue decades in the making through the vision of former Arizona golf coach Rick LaRose, who called the venue “the best practice facility in the country.”

The facility was called “game-changing and monumental” for the program.

“We’ve been waiting for so long to have our own facility, finally,” said Gile Bite Starkute, a senior on the women’s team.  “We are all very happy. The future of Arizona golf is really bright.”

No doubt the facility is “a huge step” for recruiting for the program, Starkute said. 

“Tucson Country Club is excited to partner with the University of Arizona and their golf teams,” said Ryan Davis, general manager and COO of Tucson Country Club. “The men’s and women’s golf teams are consistent national powers and the opportunity to partner with them and work alongside the university with its importance to the community align firmly with the club’s desire to be a pillar of the community and continue giving back in Tucson. The partnership is a great sense of pride for TCC.”

The pride extends beyond the Tucson region given that the Phoenix Thunderbirds – that city’s version of the Tucson Conquistadores of which Clements was a member – contributed $1 million to the cause.

“While The Thunderbirds are widely recognized as the organizers of the WM Phoenix Open, our dedication to the game extends far beyond professional golf,” said Pat Williams, Big Chief (president) of The Thunderbirds and president of Thunderbirds Charities. “We are deeply committed to supporting promising young athletes and fostering the next generation of community leaders through our backing of amateur golf initiatives. This amazing new golf facility is only the most recent example of our group’s support of the game, one that we are extremely proud to be a part of.”

The golf center was more than three decades in the making. LaRose kept diagrams of his ideal venue drawn up on napkins through the years.

“I needed to raise the level of our golf program,” LaRose said, talking about the early days after becoming the school’s new golf coach. “We needed to be a national power in golf.”

Arizona is just that, having won four NCAA titles between the men’s and women’s programs.

“The reason we (have the facility) is because (the donors) believe in us and this program,” said Arizona men’s coach Jim Anderson. “You believe in what we are doing to help these young men and young women to continue to grow and chase their dreams.”

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