Monday, July 9th was a typically hot 90 Degree Summer day at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course ground breaking dedication. Much to the delight of the invited guests, there was not the standard ribbon cutting or the typical shoveling of dirt photo opportunity. Instead, guest got to see the legendary master Arnold Palmer drive the first ball into the Raleigh skyline.
As the crowd wiped beads of sweat and fanned themselves from the heat, Mr. Palmer stepped up the sodded T-box for a moment many wolfpack staff, supporters, and friends have waited over 20 years for. Hundreds of guests, media crews and NCSU officials gathered to share the moment that had been so long in the making. The course has been in the works for years, but not until the generous Poole family contributions of $11.6 million towards construction could construction begin.
The NC State University Turfgrass Undergraduate program was recently named #1 in the nation by TurfNET magazine. To date, NCSU is the only East Coast Collegiate turf program without its own golf course. "This is a great day for the golf industry and future of golf as a whole" said Fred Yelverton, Director of the Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education at NCSU.
The Lonnie Poole Golf Course is an Arnold Palmer Signature Course with an 18-hole, 6,915-yard, par 71 public course, with practice range and green. Chief project designer Erik Larsen was on hand at the dedication. A graduate of NC State University's Design School, Larsen beamed with pride as the plans were unveiled during the press conference.
The sweltering heat did not keep honored guest and legendary golfer Arnold Palmer from making a world-class drive into the 200 acre Lonnie Poole Golf Course. As I stood being Mr. Palmer waiting to click the photo at just the right moment I was astounded by the strength of the clean swooshing sound his driver made as it cut through the air and cracked the ball into the horizon too far for my eyes to follow. It seemed more than appropriate to start the golf course off with such a powerful swing-I knew I was witness to greatness and wolfpack history in the making.