Along with having launched the career of the world’s best golfer, Stanford University can now claim to have the world’s premier collegiate practice center, the Siebel Varsity Golf Training Complex. Named for its primary donor, Thomas Siebel—former CEO of Siebel Systems—the $4.5 million, thirty-acre complex was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened in April. And although it accommodates the big sticks, the center’s standout features are tailored to the short game.
Six target greens embody elements favored by one of a few iconic architects—MacKenzie, Fazio, Jones Sr.—some selected due to their designs’ appearance on the teams’ rota. MacKenzie’s Meadow Club, for example, hosts this year’s Men’s Pac-10 Championship, and the women play Dye’s Karsten Course for the Ping/ASU Invitational. Aficionados will recognize the MacKenzie green for its boomerang profile and flashed-up bunkers—think sixteen at Cypress. Railroad ties offer a clue at the Dye salute, a small tabletop with steep, grass-face sand traps. The Tillinghast green bears a fun resemblance to the tenth at Winged Foot West.
The design concept fits the project’s aim of creating a wide range of shot scenarios, from an elevated approach to a bump-and-run to a flop shot out of deep rough. Sixteen bunkers feature three different grades of sand, and the greens have both bent-grass and Bermuda surfaces. Even the mowing patterns will specify cuts of different heights. The teams can thus prepare for almost any shot on any surface encountered in competition. “We want our players to practice to play, not practice to practice,” said Stanford men’s coach Conrad Ray.
The new complex also provides a “secret tee” location for the neighboring Stanford University course, stretching the par-three third to 240 yards. However, like the rest of the facility, it’s reserved for team use—and, of course, for Stanford’s resident Tour professional, Michelle Wie. Here’s hoping her game gets a boost, too.