York College Donors Fund New Indoor Golf Simulator at Grumbacher Center
In the last four years, the Spartan Women’s Golf program has won three conference championships and made two national championship appearances. The Men’s Golf program won two conference championships and made two national appearances.
“We’ve become one of the premier northern programs in the country and are making our name known nationwide,” said first-year Head Coach Eric Stauffer. “Both teams have been ranked in the top 25; men as high as number #8 and women as high as number #3. The commitment that York College has made to provide us with everything we need to be successful has been awesome.”
That commitment has been significantly enhanced thanks to the support of alumnus Gary Gilbert II ’94 and trustee Gary Stewart Jr. Avid golfers, the two cousins came together and led the Stewart Companies to purchase a golf simulator and create a golf salon in the Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center for the teams to use.
"We have the good fortune to call the County Club of York home to our Men's and Women's Golf teams,” said Paul Saikia, Assistant Dean for Athletics and Recreation. “Their outstanding facility plays a significant role in the success of our program. However, consistently competing on the national level requires opportunities for our student-athletes to work on their skills in the off-season and when the weather prevents them from getting out on the course.”
The indoor golf simulator, made by Trackman, includes a pin and projection screen, as well as a putting green. The “ground” in the salon will be the same type of material used to practice putting, according to Stauffer. “The technology behind the simulator provides information on what our golfers need to work on in their swing: swing speed, spin rate, path, attack angle, and club face.”
“The Trackman is basically what they use to track missiles, it’s the same type of technology,” said Gilbert. “These simulators use algorithms that determine–based upon speed, trajectory, spin, and start line–where the ball is going to end up,” Stewart added.
Gilbert and Stewart donated a simulator a few years ago, and the golf teams use that now outdoors. In addition, the team has access to a local indoor facility, but they have to schedule time and pay for it, and players have to drive to that location.
“It’s going to be awesome in terms of bad weather,” Stauffer said, “to be able to have access to practice whenever we need it, especially as a northern school. It will provide more availability and access for players, pretty much whenever they want.”
That’s one advantage the simulator provides. It gives the Spartans an opportunity to practice during the off months, when other teams are limited because of weather. No other team in the Middle Atlantic Conference has a simulator like this, according to Stauffer. “Scoring averages across the MAC are high in the early part of the season, because people have not been playing in months,” said Stewart. “We think that this gives York a competitive advantage in that the winter players can work on their game, come out in the fall, and be more ready to compete against their peers.”
The technology and tracking also provides feedback that the student golfers can use to improve their game and other York College students may use as a learning tool. The Trackman uses physics and math, because the game of golf is very driven by numbers, Stewart said. “So many things about the simulator make you a better player, and those same things can provide classes in academic programs like Data Analytics with an opportunity to understand what makes the golf ball go high and straight.”
The simulator also provides a recruiting advantage to York College. “This helps tremendously with retaining players,” Stewart said, “and it helps retain athletes, too. The simulator provides the sensation of swinging clubs and hitting balls. “This is as close as you can get to being on the course outdoors,” said Gilbert. “The simulator will allow them to play on incredible golf courses around the world that they probably would never get a chance to play.”
Stauffer and Saikia see clearly the value of the support from Stewart and Gilbert. “With the simulator, we will continue to build on the success of the last few years and push toward bringing a national championship to York College,” said Stauffer. “We’ve put ourselves in a good position to make that happen.”
“Our new indoor golf space is an awesome addition to our great athletics facilities, providing our teams access to state-of-the-art equipment right here on campus,” Saikia added. “We also believe it will impact our recruiting–it showcases our commitment to excellence, something we hope resonates with our future Spartans."
For Stewart and Gilbert, the bottom line is relationships, with the College, with Stauffer, and with the students. “We are both passionate about golf,” said Stewart. “We’ve seen the YCP teams play and we’ve played with them,” Gilbert said. “They handle themselves well. They have done well over the past four years, so it’s easy to support winners.”