HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – At a special ceremony on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, the Columbia University men’s golf program signed a historic agreement and partnership with The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club, a highly-regarded facility that is widely recognized as the birthplace of golf in America.
Saint Andrew’s, located in Hastings-On-Hudson, New York, was founded in 1888 after Scottish sportsman John Reid and his friends played a round of “Gowf” in a pasture in Yonkers, with clubs transported from Saint Andrew’s in Scotland. The club would go on to become a founding member of the United States Golf Association, hosting the first US amateur and “open” championships in 1894. The club moved to its current location in 1897 and was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus as part of a personal project by the legendary golfer in the early 1980s.
Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of England’s King George II. For more than 250 years, Columbia has been at the forefront of American higher education. Similarly, the University’s sponsorship of intercollegiate athletics has a long and storied tradition, beginning in the 19th Century. Columbia is a founding member of The Ivy League, an NCAA Division I athletics conference synonymous with academic and competitive excellence.
“We’ve enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Saint Andrew’s for the last decade,” said Columbia head coach Rich Mueller. “The Club has undoubtedly been a cornerstone in our success. Winning four of the last seven Ivy League Championships is in part attributable to having a facility and membership that cares about our program and the amateur ideal.”
“The golf course is very beautiful and challenging, is exceptionally well-maintained and prepares our student-athletes very well for competitive tournament play,” continued Mueller. “Even more exciting are the plans for the new indoor-outdoor learning center, renovated driving range and expanded practice areas. While Columbia golfers will benefit immensely from the improvements, Saint Andrew’s will further its reputation as a premiere facility within the Met section.”
“We are proud of our longstanding and mutually beneficial affiliation with Columbia golf, and look forward to enhancing that relationship with the agreement we are signing today,” said George Miller, Saint Andrew’s president. “Columbia’s golf team will enjoy a top-tier golf course, practice and teaching facility located only 15 miles from its Manhattan campus, and Saint Andrew’s will benefit from the presence of high-caliber student-athletes from one of America’s most prestigious universities, all in keeping with our support for amateur golf in the metropolitan region,” he added.
The agreement is significant for Columbia as it seeks to remain among the best NCAA Division I men’s golf programs in the Ivy League and the northeast. The Lions will have access to Saint Andrew’s throughout the entire school year for training and practice sessions. They will also have benefit from natural grass practice tees, the use of golf carts, dining options and summer access.
Coach Mueller added, “When considering ways to ensure the continued success of our program, we thought “now” was the right time to formalize and strengthen our partnership. And while our current and future athletes will benefit from a superb facility and other meaningful resources, the new agreement and partnership stretch beyond the team and aim at better integrating our respective communities.”
“I am so excited to have played a role in establishing this relationship between two of the country’s most respected and historic institutions,” stated Mueller.
Additionally, the agreement encourages Saint Andrew’s and Columbia to work closely together to build awareness of the Club and support the men’s golf program. Meet and greet events at Saint Andrew’s, a “Member Night” at a Columbia men’s basketball game, and hosting Columbia golf events and camps are among the opportunities that will be explored in pursuing the expanded partnership.
Saint Andrew’s Practice and Instructional Facilities: Major Renovation and Expansion
In addition to the exceptional facilities already available at Saint Andrew’s, Columbia will reap the benefit of access to a significantly expanded practice range, a new multi-purpose short-game practice area and a new state-of-the-art golf instruction, teaching and practice facility that the Club is in the process of constructing.
The expanded practice range will quadruple the grass teeing space, while the new short-game area will support practice on all types of shots within 50 yards, including pitching and chipping from fringe, rough, apron and bunkers.
The Golf Learning Center will be a new stand-alone building located on the main driving range, housing indoor/outdoor hitting bays, a putting studio, state-of-the-art instructional equipment and technology, a golf simulator, a member lounge and a recreational area. The 3,500 square foot building will provide Saint Andrew’s a year-round golf teaching and instructional facility which Columbia will have permission to use. The indoor/outdoor bays will be temperature controlled to permit all-season use. Each bay, along with the putting studio, will be equipped with diagnostic, teaching and training equipment that includes launch monitors, lights, cameras, video screens and other modern golf teaching tools and technology.
“With the completion of this project in advance of the 2015 golf season, Saint Andrew’s will offer modern practice, teaching and instructional facilities that are second to none in the greater metropolitan region,” said Greg Bisconti, Saint Andrew’s head golf professional and a top-ranked area player and instructor. “Increasingly, it’s not just a high-quality golf course, but equally outstanding practice and instructional facilities that define a great golf club. Saint Andrew’s members, along with Columbia’s golf team, will now have both.”