A high of 22 degrees may have seemed like an odd choice of day to get out the clubs, but on Thursday, February 19, Irish Construction Company joined Michigan State University (MSU) administrators, students and teachers for an afternoon on the green – well, maybe not on the green. The project team celebrated the official opening of MSU's recently completed Forest Akers Driving Range Enclosure, an extended-season golf facility complete with individual driving lanes and unit heaters dedicated to the University's most committed golf athletes.
In the words of Stacy Slobodnik, the MSU Women's Golf Coach, “There is no doubt that this facility has already helped make us two of the best teams in the country!” Indeed, despite the date of the official opening, Stephen Ruthenberg, interim golf course manager, stated that the excitement for the completed project prompted immediate use of the facility, beginning 3-1/2 weeks prior to the ceremony. “Within two to three days, we estimate 100,000 golf balls will have been driven from this enclosure. We estimate that by this time next year the total will have reached 1 million.”
MSU President, Dr. Lou Anna Simon, expanded upon the excitement by saying that “Golf is the game of life, the only game where you are your own policeman ... it is about character and integrity.”
Tom Dereske, Irish Construction's superintendent on the job, was very happy to have been a part of such a meaningful project for the university and earned the first applause of the convocation. “Even on the coldest days of winter,” Ruthenberg announced, “Tom was up on the roof for countless hours making sure this project happened on time.” The current building design allows for future expansion of added driving lanes and press box space. Ceremonies finished with a ribbon cutting and a defiant volley of golf balls into the Michigan tundra.