University Officials Break Ground for new Columbus State Golf Studio

Golf StudioCOLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University will break ground Monday on its new golf studio on University Avenue that will be named for Billy Key, a former local amateur golf champion, CSU Foundation trustee and longtime supporter of the men’s golf program and Cougar athletics.

Former Masters champion Larry Mize is expected to join Key and university officials for the event at 8:30 a.m. at 3434 University Ave. The public is invited. (Shuttles will transport groundbreaking attendees from parking at CSU’s nearby Center for International Education, north of the intramural field on University Avenue.)

Columbus State’s Key Golf Studio is being built on 13 acres of land and an adjacent lot formerly housing the Boutwell Chiropractic Clinic. The project is being developed in phases, entirely with private funds, with the goal of a becoming a facility that attracts and trains some of the best collegiate golfers in the country. It will be home to CSU’s men’s and women’s golf teams, and it’s where instructors will teach CSU student golf classes.

“This is an exciting addition to Columbus State University and our athletic program,” said university President Tim Mescon. “Our golf programs have a record of national pre-eminence, and this new facility will add to that reputation. We are honored by the caliber of people who are already involved in this project.”

Columbus native and 1987 Masters Champion Larry Mize is helping design the studio. In addition to his own interest in the project, his involvement is spurred by the fact that his son, Robert Mize, is currently a leading member of CSU’s golf team, who will be able to use the facility in the future. Robert Mize played in all 12 events for the Cougars in his freshman season last year and won first-place individual honors in this season’s first two golf tournaments.

Also providing input will be Key, a financial backer of the project and a Georgia Golf Hall of Fame member

Key, now the retired president of First National Bank of Columbus, won the Georgia State Junior Championships in 1946, 1947 and 1948. In 1947 and 1948, he also won the Southern Interscholastic Championships. And in 1948, he won the Georgia Interscholastic Championship. Other big early wins for Key include the Florida Intercollegiate Championship in 1951, the Western Amateur in 1958, the Southeastern Amateur in 1962 and the Georgia Amateur in 1968. As a senior, he won the American Seniors Best-Ball Championship five times. In 1989 and 1990, he won the Society of Seniors Individual Stroke Play Championship and, in 1990, Golf Digest ranked him as the No. 2 senior golfer in the U.S.

“Golf has been really good to me,” Key said. “I have met a lot of interesting people, and it opened a lot of doors for me in the business world. I would be delighted if a project like this could help do the same for other young golfers.”

Mescon said Key’s involvement has been critical to moving the golf studio project forward.

“Mr. Key has been a good friend to Cougar athletics — and our golf programs in particular — for many years,” said Mark Immelman, head coach of CSU’s men’s golf team. “We are so thankful for his support of this project and delighted he is allowing us to name this facility in his honor.”

The Key Golf Studio will include a clubhouse and offices, a driving range, putting and short-game areas. Coaches hope to start using it in fall 2014.

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