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David Toms Academy will be 'something the city will be proud of'

David Toms
(Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

January 18, 2013

By Roy Lang III, Shreveport Times

This story has been reposted courtesy of the Shreveport Times.

With 13 PGA Tour victories, including the 2001 PGA Championship, and philanthropy to the tune of more than $3.6 million, David Toms has spent much of the past two decades providing inspiration for his community.

It appears the sentiment has come full circle.

Toms, motivated by a group of local junior golfers many believe could be world-class, has vowed to build a golf facility to match.

The Times has learned Toms plans to open ‘265,’ also known as David Toms Academy, 60 acres of “pure golf” near Bert Kouns Industrial Loop in August.

“It’s not swimming pools and tennis courts,” Toms said. “It’s not even 18 holes. It’s a pure golf practice experience. It’s about giving these young golfers the opportunity to get better and further their skills.

“That’s what it’s all about.”

The facility will employ 11 people upon completion and will include a nine-hole par-3 course, an 18-acre driving range, eight greens dedicated to putting and chipping and three regulation holes (a par-3, a par-4 and a par-5).

“We’re trying to create every shot you can face in golf,” Toms said.

Shreveport’s Jim Lipe, who spent 25 years as a senior designer for Jack Nicklaus, worked closely with Toms to design the facility.

The complex will eventually boast a state-of-the-art clubhouse with three indoor hitting bays, computerized teaching aids, a fitness center and a youth achievement center.
“This will be a place kids will be able to use and hone their skills, and to introduce those who have never played to the game,” said Toms, who also plans to bring in “Top 100” golf instructors for clinics and lessons.

“David has been a shining example of what a PGA Tour player can do to help make his community a better place,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said. “He has selflessly utilized his success as a golf professional to the benefit of countless individuals through his leadership and charitable work. The David Toms Academy will continue this tradition and will have a great impact on many young lives in Shreveport.”

A group of businessmen, led by Toms, donated the initial 45 acres for the project. The David Toms Foundation then purchased the adjacent 15 acres to create the space needed to make Toms’ dream come true.

“This is very exciting,” Toms said. “We’ve had some very generous people. This will be a destination place.”

The “265” facility will be an affiliate of The First Tee, a youth organization that promotes life skills and leadership through the game of golf.

“Their staff will be able to use our facility to teach anything from life skills, how to hold a club, rules and etiquette,” Toms said.

Members (donors) will also have access to 265.

“People can have the Tour experience I get on a weekly basis,” Toms said. “And selfishly, I’ll have a great place to practice.”

Perhaps the only piece of Toms’ vision that became more complicated than the location of the facility, which bounced from Shreveport to Bossier City, was the name.
Instead of descriptive words, perhaps symbolizing its location or surroundings, Toms gave the facility a number with plenty of significance.

“It sounds good, 265, and it’s easy to say,” Toms said. “Plus it tells a great story.”

It’s the number of strokes Toms used to win his first PGA Tour event (the 1997 Quad City) and his last event (2011 Colonial). It also stands as the all-time record for lowest score in a major championship, a mark the former LSU star set in winning the 2001 PGA Championship.

“It’s something directly related to me and it puts my stamp on things without putting my name all over the place — that’s just not me,” Toms said.

As one of the most precise shotmakers of his generation, Toms has spent much of this offseason from the PGA Tour transplanting more than 100 cedar trees on the property.

“We’ve hand-picked everything,” Toms said. “When you’re doing it, you’re thinking about where greens are going to be, tees are going to be. It’s a lot of fun.

“It’s something the city will be proud of.”

 

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