CapTech Invests in Historic Belmont Course to Expand Innovation and Accessibility for Youth
When you reflect on the storied history of the Belmont Golf Course, it’s not obvious that this Golden Age gem would be re-opening in May of 2021 as a model for the future of the game operated by an organization passionate about youth development.
The course was originally designed by renowned course architect A.W. Tillinghast in 1916 and was renovated by Donald Ross four years later, whose improvements like upgrading the greens from sand to grass delivered an even higher level of prestige. The club later hosted the only major golf championship held in Virginia, and was the site of tournament victories by legends Ben Hogan and Sam Snead.
Enter now a new era, ushered in by passionate Richmond golfers organized as Preserve Belmont, Friends of Belmont, and First Tee of Greater Richmond, who saw an opportunity to transform Belmont into a facility ideally suited to their mission of building youths’ character through golf and serving the community at large.
First Tee brought in expert partners from Love Golf Design, run by legendary PGA golfer Davis Love III. Together they developed an innovative concept that maintained 12 of the original 18 holes while converting the remaining space into a driving range, an 18-hole putting course, and six-hole par-3 course – all ideally suited for teaching.
Learning of First Tee’s plans at Belmont, CapTech’s Chairman Sandy Williamson eagerly rallied his company around the mission. CapTech is in the process of developing a state-of-the-art golf technology lab in the former pro shop that will open in Spring of 2022. With an emphasis on inclusivity, the lab will support training and development for all skill levels. A central goal of the lab is to connect and integrate data from golf training tools, mobile devices, and third-party sources. “Right now there are so many amazing technologies out there to help golfers improve their game. We believe it’s important to make that technology available to kids who wouldn’t normally have access,” said Williamson.
To CapTech, the real game-changer is bringing information together from disparate sources to create a complete picture coaches can use to personalize training. And from the kids’ perspective, the mobile technology CapTech is building will enable them to easily track improvement and even challenge their friends and families. “We hope that by exposing First Tee participants to these tools, it won’t just spark their imagination about what’s possible on the golf course, but will open their minds to how technology is changing the world around them and how they can be a part of that,” said Williamson.