By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - USF wants to take the next step in getting its golf programs to the elite level and the Bulls will soon have the perfect platform.
Coaches, administrators, supporters and fans gathered at The Claw on Wednesday morning for a construction celebration in front of the Chowdhari Golf Center that's well on its way to being a finished product at the end of August. USF Foundation Board Member Dr. Shaukat Chowdhari and his wife, Dr. Antonina Chowdhari were the main donors for the $1.3 million facility.
"This is one way for us to say thanks to USF for letting our family be involved with this kind of philanthropic situation not only in medicine and academia, but also athletics," Dr. Shaukat Chowdhari said.
This marks the third time the Chowdharis have provided USF with a special gift. They contributed $250,000 to the College of Medicine in 2008 to renovate its gross anatomy lab and gave $130,000 to USF Honors College in 2009 to make sure that students with financial needs have access to a free Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) prep course.
USF is certainly thankful to the Chowdharis for help with the new golf center that serves as the ninth facility in the athletic district to either be renovated or newly constructed in recent years.
"The Chowdaris' generous gift will allow USF to provide world class facilities to its student-athletes and to recruit the best and brightest golfers in the nation to our campus," USF President Judy Genshaft said in a statement. "This new facility will allow us to be more competitive and sets a standard of excellence for our students which they carry forward."
The Chowdhari Golf Center will serve as a main attraction for recruits once they see a 22-foot wide dual bay video analysis center that allows golfers to hit directly into the driving range.
"It will have all the latest and greatest technology to be able to analyze ball flights, club head speed and all those kinds of things," USF Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Doug Woolard said. "It's something I know that will help us to recruit and certainly help in player development."
The 5,040-foot center also features a multi-purpose fitness center, private showers and locker rooms for both USF teams, a shared team lounge with a kitchenette and a short game facility.
"We can compete with all the schools in the state of Florida. We can compete nationally and internationally," said USF women's head coach Marci Kornegay of recruiting. "We're able to offer the same package that other top teams in the country are offering."
"It's my birthday, so this is the best birthday present that I've ever gotten," USF men's head coach Chris Malloy said. "I can't tell you what it means for both of our programs. To be able to get in the game with the athletes we're going after we needed something like this and we've gone above and beyond."
Kornegay said the new golf center serves as more "momentum" for the USF teams that continue to climb the ladder of success. The USF women's team recently captured its first-ever Big East title while Kornegay was named the conference's coach of the year. Sophomore Christina Miller was named Big East Player of the Year.
The USF men know the future is bright with the way its younger players have instantly stepped up as Bulls. Trey Valentine was named Big East Freshman of the Year and he capped off a stellar season by finishing 15th among 75 players at the NCAA Athens Regional.
Now the Bulls will continue to make great strides in a place that they can finally call home.
"The Chowdharis have really stepped up to the plate and have really given us that piece of the puzzle that's been missing for so long," Kornegay said. "We have to step up our game as well. We have the facilities and let's do it."