David Toms has had a pretty good run lately. First, the 2001 PGA Championship winner salvaged a disappointing PGA Tour season with three strong showings in recent weeks to cement his fulltime status for the upcoming season.
And now, he's opening his own golf academy in his hometown of Shreveport, La. Even better is that it looks like the blueprint of what a modern golf facility ought to be.
The David Toms 265 Academy covers 60 acres in the center of Shreveport, and Toms bills it as a golf practice facility and youth academy. Its mission, Toms says, is to provide a world-class training and practice facility to help golfers at every level and enhance the golf experience – and, he stresses, to ''enhance a child's character, self-esteem, and career possibilities through growing the game of golf in the lives of underprivileged children.''
Toms only got shovels in the ground last January but, amazingly, the facility already includes a nine-hole Par 3 course, an 18-acre driving range, eight putting and chipping greens, and three regulation holes (par 3, 4, & 5). Within a year or so, it also will have a full-service clubhouse, three indoor hitting bays, video equipment and teaching technology, fitness center, indoor putting studio, professional clubfitting, and the Humana Youth Achievement Center.
Humana is one of Toms' partners in the facility, along with John Deere and donors to the David Toms Foundation – which, by the way, has donated more than $3.6 million to children's charities. There is also a full teaching staff led by PGA Professional Shaun Webb, who's coming over from Orange County National in Orlando.
''Like any new golf course, it won't be perfect on Day 1, but I feel like we built a product that everyone can enjoy,'' Toms said. ''We are starting with a soft opening for our members only, but we will begin with First Tee and other youth programs very soon.''
The Par 3 Course was created to help golfers work on their short games. ''The holes are intended to mimic approach shots to par 4s or a third shot into a par 5. Each hole has a shot value that we wanted to give our members to work on,' Tom said on his website. ''For example, we have a green with water on the left, one with water on the right, we have a narrow green that is deep and we have a wide green that is shallow.
''Every curve, hill, tree and bunker is in place for a very precise reason,'' he explained. ''This area will give our members a unique 'course' to work on their short game while also trying to post a score. Golfers can practice a variety of shots from 120 yards and in and have a lot of fun doing it.''
In the practice area, Toms created more than 2.3 acres of tee space alone. ''First and foremost, I wanted to make sure we had ample teeing area so that we always have pristine turf to hit from,'' he said. ''Our main tee box is bigger than a football field, and we have more than one tee box, so I feel like we will always have plenty of great grass to play from. The target greens have zoysia grass which offers a color contrast from the surrounding Bermuda grass. In addition we are cutting the grass in a certain way to have fairway corridors to promote accuracy.''
Tom has spent several years working on the facility's plan, and that included some serious pondering over its name. He wound up with a number: 265.
So why 265? Well, 265 was Toms' winning score at the 2001 PGA Championship – and it remains the lowest aggregate total in major golf championship history. Coincidentally, 265 was also his winning score for his first PGA Tour win (the 1997 John Deere Classic) and his most recent win (the 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial).
Click here for more information on the David Toms 265 Academy, and click here for more on the David Toms Foundation.