Fundraising underway for Golf Teaching and Research Center expansion

Representational rendering of Golf Teaching and Research Center expansion. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As Penn State’s professional golf management faculty, researchers and alumni gather this week at the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida, they are teeing up fundraising for the expansion of Penn State’s Golf Teaching and Research Center (GTRC).

Established in 2009 in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management for the PGA Professional Golf Management Program (PGM), the GTRC features high-tech equipment for swing analysis and highly regarded biomechanics research.

The lab provides students with hands-on experience to complement coursework, supports web-based continuing education for golf instructors worldwide, and provides valuable professional development for PGM student interns. For the past seven years, the GTRC has led the field in experiential learning and industry-related research.

Housed in the College of Health and Human Development, the center’s researchers stand at the forefront of golf performance research and education, and the expansion plans will support the next steps in the center’s growth and development.

Penn State philanthropic leaders Peter and Ann Tombros have contributed $100,000 to the project and are challenging alumni and friends of the PGM program to raise a matching amount through individual contributions.

“This project has so much potential to help Penn State students in the PGM program and in the kinesiology major, as well as the University’s biomechanics researchers who study the golf swing,” said Peter Tombros, who received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural science and industry in 1964 and a master’s degree in agricultural economics in 1968, both at Penn State.

“Additionally, it will open up opportunities for alumni and friends who are golfers to get high-quality information and advice on their game. Ann and I are delighted to support this effort, and we hope that our gift will inspire others who have benefited from the program to help the cause,” Tombros said.

Plans for the project include adding two additional hitting bays to the existing one, and bringing in new technology such as additional cameras and other 3D biomechanics systems. In addition to the value these changes will have for researchers, the director of Penn State’s PGM Program sees its value in shaping the student experience.

“With a larger and more updated space, our outstanding PGM students will have more opportunities to practice year-round. This is critical to recruiting in today’s competitive golf education environment,” said Burch Wilkes, PGM director and senior instructor.

Wilkes said the expanded center will also make it possible to host educational seminars and industry guests.

“The new facilities are going to greatly enhance what we can do for students, whether it is bringing them in for swing work, engaging them with industry leaders and high-level players, or giving them a chance to consult for alumni and friends who are working to improve their game,” Wilkes said.

For more information about the GTRC Expansion Project or to inquire about the Tombros Challenge, contact Brent Hurley, associate director of development, at or 814-865-4525.

Supporters like Peter and Ann Tombros are valuable partners in fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni, friends and corporate partners enrich the experience of students both in and out of the classroom, expand the research and teaching capacity of faculty, enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty, and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University’s colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.

Accepting the challenge

Among the first to accept the Tombros Challenge were PGM alumnus Brian Muench and his wife, Tara, of Rochester, New York. Brian is a 2010 graduate of the program, and after hearing about the expansion plans for the GTRC and the match offered by Tombros, he and Tara decided to make a $10,000 gift.

“The PGM program provided me with a broad-based education, from which I could have successfully pursued any number of careers, and Penn State is a place I believe in and want to continue supporting,” Muench said. “Tara and I were happy to make a pledge toward this project, and we hope other alums will join the effort to expand and enhance the swing lab expansion, too.”

Muench is the president of Triple M Packaging, a family business in Rochester.

Last Updated February 14, 2017