This story starts
with a snow squall
— a wretched winter
wham that weakens
the wedge wishes
of willful warriors. TAs it mercilessly sweeps through DuPont Country Club in late January, John Burke off- sets the oppressive onslaught outside with the promise of practice inside. The club’s director of golf, seated near an inviting fireplace in one of several renovated clubhouse corridors, shows artistic renderings of what’s to come for DuPont members and the golf community alike: a state-of-the-art practice facility. The snow squall soon won’t matter at all. “This is one of the largest facilities being built in the country, in terms of size and scope. It’s kind of like Topgolf meets
high-level teaching academy meets country
club,” Burke, 36, of Hockessin, Del., said. “If
you can create a facility that allows people to
stay within it and offers a broad spectrum of
things to do, it makes it more like home.”
DuPont’s vision matches that of its peers
within the GAP family.
“Practice facilities are a trend. The importance of practice facilities not only in this
region, but also in this industry, has grown
significantly,” Bill Phillips, St. Davids Golf
Club’s Club Manager of five years, said.
Among the motivators is member activity
and engagement – even in the face of a pesky,
“This is an easy entry point for people to
get in and play golf. It makes golf a year-round sport here at DuPont,”
Robert Wirth, CEO of Rockland Sports LLC, which purchased the club
in May 2018, said. “One of the tough things, being in this area, is it
hits November and you just have to pray for a couple of nice days after
that. Through this new facility, members will be out to play golf all year
round, and in a fun environment, too. The whole Topgolf phenom-
ena is taking off. We thought, ‘What a great way to add value to our
membership.’ If you’re a member here at the club, you’re going to have
something else that no one else has.”
DuPont’s pending practice facility falls under the umbrella of a two-
year, $19 million capital improvement project that includes renova-
tions to a 117,000 square-foot clubhouse; the creation of an aquatic
complex and paddleball/pickleball courts; a new fitness center and a
tennis complex retool and relocation. The project, Wirth said, is split
into phases; half is allocated to the practice facility, the other half to
the aforementioned items.
“[Rockland Sports LLC] is taking a great canvas and just completely
upgrading and updating it. They’re putting us in a position to really
grow into the future of where the sports complex world is going,”
Burke said. “The weather doesn’t allow us to train 12 months out
of the year. Now DuPont is going to have a facility where our players
and athletes can train year-round. The game of golf has completely
changed from a game of men and women hitting a ball to an athletic
sport where men and women are training at all levels to be an athlete.
The crown jewel of the launch monitor/simulator market, TrackMan has become synonymous with the best players
and golf facilities in the world. The Danish company was founded in 2003 and utilizes doppler radar technology to
track and record 3D characteristics of a golf ball in motion. Newer models let players play and practice on renown
courses such as St Andrews Links and Pebble Beach Golf Links. Price: $30-50K.
Above: DuPont’s proposed practice building.
Opposite: DuPont’s new practice facility will cover 30 acres.