UVa indoor golf facility gets endorsement in Albemarle

An indoor golf facility, planned for the University of Virginia golf teams and members of the Birdwood Golf Course, is one step closer to becoming reality.

Tuesday evening, the Albemarle County Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve an amendment to a special use permit to allow the construction of the facility.

The UVa Foundation is managing the design, construction and operations of the facility, and the Virginia Athletics Foundation is responsible for raising the $8 million dollars budgeted for the building and its operations.

“We are in planning process right now,” said Fred Missel, director of design and development at the foundation. “The commencement of construction is fully dependent on the success of the fundraising. The hope is that it will come in soon.”

The 10,000-square-foot facility will be located on a parcel containing the Birdwood Mansion, which the foundation and university recently acquired. Missel said the golf facility will not be located near the historic core of the property and likely will not to be visible from or to impact the historic resources on the site.

“We based the building location on three studies,” said Missel. “We commissioned a master plan, a historic landscape plan and a review by the [Virginia] Department of Historic Resources. We were really focused on preserving the viewshed and being aware of the distance from the mansion.”

The facility will be the new home to the UVa men’s and women’s golf teams. It will house coaches’ offices, player locker rooms and eight indoor hitting bays to allow year-round use of the driving range. The building is seen as a much-needed resource for the University’s golf teams.

“We’ve been talking about it since I’ve been here, about 11 years,” said Bowen Sargent, head coach for the Virginia men’s golf team. “It’s exciting to see it at this step.”

Sargent said he is looking forward to expanding the caliber of the golf program through the construction of the building.

“This facility would put us at a level playing field with other golf teams across the nation,” said Sargent. “It would make recruiting a lot easier and give our players a home. This is something that they really need.”

“For Kim [Lewellen, Virginia women’s golf head coach] and myself, it gives us the ability to teach,” Sargent continued. “We call this a learning center. Having a fixed place to give lessons or show videos would make our jobs a lot easier.”

If the fundraising goals are met, the UVa Foundation will return to the county with a site plan for review before construction starts.