Niles High School Debuts New Golf Practice Facility

notre_dame_college_prep_golfWe have heard, many times, that a man’s home is his castle, so, when the young men who comprise the golf teams of Notre Dame College Prep move into their new practice home in April, they will be moving into a modern ‘golf castle’.

Presently known as Notre Dame College Prep, Notre Dame High School For Boys opened its doors for education in Niles, IL in 1955. The 1955 student body of NDHS was comprised of just Freshman and Sophomore classes. Needing time for both the student body and the athletic programs to mature, golf, as a school sport, was first played in 1964, and has been played there continuously ever since. Long past, and just a memory to a few old alums, is what passed as ‘golf team practice’ back then: hitting wiffle golf balls into nets and tarps in the gymnasium off of pieces of carpeting during inclement Spring weather (IHSA Boys golf was a Spring sport then), while dodging errant baseballs from the baseball team, who were also indoors due to bad weather.

Bob Beckman came to Notre Dame High School in 1985 as a substitute teacher, and in 1988 was asked by ND’s athletic director to take over the golf program as head coach; Beckman agreed and has led the team ever since. “Adopt…adapt…improve”, the legendary motto of the Knights of the Round Table, might well describe the efforts of Coach Bob Beckman during his entire tenure as Notre Dame golf mentor. Notre Dame Dons golfers compete in the East Suburban Catholic Conference on varsity and FR/SO levels, with Rob Roy Golf Course and Mission Hills Country Club serving as their home courses. Coach Beckman typically retains 10 golfers on his varsity squad and 12 golfers on the FR/SO team. As is common at most schools, golf fortunes and golf successes fluctuate; recent bright spots on the NDCP golf team have been three golfers competing individually in IHSA state finals, and three NDCP golfers, after graduation, competing on the college level for the likes of Coastal Carolina University, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Eastern Kentucky University.

The Knights of King Arthur’s Round Table had a quest to seek the Holy Grail, and though separated by centuries in time and thousands of miles in distance, the NDCP golfers are on their own quest to seek the perfect golf swing. Whether these chivalrous 21st century golfers find that swing is, of course, unknown, but they may just have reached their ‘Camelot’ each time they will enter their new practice building.

The quest of the famous twelve English knights required travel across the entire length and breadth of Britain, but the quest of the Dons’ golfers will only necessitate a walk of a few hundred feet, as the new golf practice facility at NDCP is a 1,000 square foot, freestanding building located on campus near the SE corner of the football field. Inside the facility, Coach Beckman will implore the use of modern technology, not Merlin’s magic, to improve the golf games of his squadron.

Recently the NDCP Athletic Boosters Club had purchased a golf simulator for our team, Beckman related, but a lack of sufficient space and other factors caused the simulator to remain unused for a time. Noticing the unused simulator, one enthusiastic alumnus spearheaded plans, with all labor donated, to construct a separate building to house the simulator and other practice devices. Bob stated “We now have a TruGolf simulator, measuring 12×15 feet that has driving range characteristics and an additional 22 playable computerized courses. Plus, there are two 10×10 hitting bays with golf swing analyzers to measure swing speed, launch angle, swing arc, impact, and resulting distance. Finally, we have a video system, recording at 120 frames/second, to play back and review our golfers’ swings. Hopefully, our team will put all of these to good use.”

For these and past efforts in upgrading his program, and for years of dedicated coaching service, Bob Beckman was inducted into the East Suburban Catholic Conference Hall of Fame in 2010, which, if he were back in the Middle Ages might have been knighthood instead. “Sir Bob” Beckman will be present when NDCP officially opens and dedicates the new golf practice building on April 13, 2013.


Greg Miles

Greg Miles has been a writer following golf in Chicago since 1990. For the past 30 years he has been a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and currently is classified as a GWAA "Life Member". He played his first round of golf on his 11th birthday, and since then has played more than 7,300 rounds of golf in his lifetime at 517 different courses. He has interviewed more than 280 golfers across all the professional tours along with famous celebrity golfers. Additionally, he is a member of several other competitive and honorary golf associations, as well as the Golf Nut Society.

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