22 May ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO AND THE FIRST TEE ANNOUNCE COMPLETION OF UPGRADES AT ESSEX COUNTY WEEQUAHIC GOLF COURSE The First Tee Facilities are Modernized and Expanded; Weequahic Golf Course Parking Lot is Reconfigured to Enhance Safety
Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced that $3.1 million in improvements to upgrade The First Tee facilities and modernize the entrance and parking lot at Essex County Weequahic Golf Course in Newark was completed on Monday, May 22nd. The project, done in partnership with The First Tee program, is part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to revitalize the Essex County Parks System and provide up-to-date recreation facilities.
“We are always looking for ways to improve our recreation facilities so visitors have an enjoyable experience. The changes update and expand the First Tee practice course and classrooms so more young golfers can participate, modernize putting and driving areas, and enhance safety by eliminating the need for golfers to cross the parking area to move from one area to another,” DiVincenzo said. “We have enjoyed a great partnership with The First Tee for over a decade, and it was a pleasure working with them to update Weequahic Golf Course and make it more inviting for experienced and first-time golfers,” he added.
The new look at Weequahic Golf Course was well-received.
“I am proud to be part of an administration that recognizes recreation saves lives. With The First Tee, it’s about creating opportunities for leadership among our youth, and preserving Olmsted’s vision while enhancing our residents’ quality of life,” NJ State Senator and Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz said.
“Our County Executive never stops thinking of ideas to make Essex County a better place. I am delighted that things are becoming even better for all our residents to enjoy,” Freeholder Patricia Sebold said. “I am very pleased at what I see,” Freeholder Lebby Jones said. “Joe DiVincenzo has done an amazing job with Parks and Recreation. These improvements definitely address safety and add to the appeal of coming to Weequahic,” Freeholder Leonard Luciano said.
“The first time I played golf it was here at Weequahic, and I was hooked. This is a great improvement and gives our young people a tremendous opportunity,” Sheriff Armando Fontoura said.
“To see the continued improvement here makes me proud,” Newark Councilman John James said.
“This is a model for public-private partnership. With the County and The First Tee, we have transformed this site. The course is accessible and affordable, but the improvements also make it an asset to the community,” The First Tee of Metropolitan New York Executive Director Ed Brockner said.
“I am just so proud that the kids will have such a fabulous facility. For our kids, this is the safest place they can come,” The First Tee Program Director at Weequahic Katie Brenny said.
The first part of the project included modernizing the parking lot area, putting green and The First Tee practice facility. The circular parking area with the practice putting green located on the center island was reconfigured so golfers do not have to cross the parking lot to reach the green. In the new configuration, the putting green, practice driving area and a new open air pavilion were constructed next to the clubhouse and a new formal entrance to The First Tee practice course was created. The open air pavilion is outfitted with an artificial grass surface so it can be used as a covered, outdoor putting area as well as for special events. The parking lot was expanded by combining it with an adjacent parking lot off of Thomas Carmichael Drive and an iron archway was erected over the driveway to make the entrance more inviting.
The layout of The First Tee facility was rotated so young golfers will be driving golf balls in a northerly direction instead of southerly. This change will place most of the golfing action in the shade from existing trees. In addition, tee boxes and greens were rebuilt and regraded to provide better play. In addition, dead or decaying trees and invasive plant species were removed.
The second part of the project included renovating the field house. The interior cafeteria area was remodeled into additional classroom space for The First Tee for after school and enrichment programs. In addition, the back wall of the field house that overlooks the 10th and 11th holes was replaced with a removable wall so the building could be opened and the fairways used as a driving range during inclement or cold weather.
The improvements were designed by The First Tee at no cost to Essex County. The Landtek Group from Amityville, N.Y., was awarded a publicly bid contract for $2,244,601 to perform the exterior work in the parking lot, putting green, driving range, open air pavilion and The First Tee facility. Fine Wall Corporation from Iselin was awarded a publicly bid contract for $834,000 to make the renovations to the field house. The Essex County Department of Public Works monitored the project. The project was funded with a grant from the NJ Department of Community Affairs and from the Essex County Capital Budget. Work started on November 1st and was completed in seven months.
Essex County Weequahic Park Golf Course opened in 1914 and was the first public golf course in New Jersey. The original nine-hole course was designed by Seth Lowe, the former golf professional at historic Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., while the back nine holes, which opened in 1969, were designed by distinguished golf course architect Hal Purdy, making Weequahic a par 70, 18-hole facility. In 2015, Holes 10 and 11 were reconfigured to enhance safety for golfers, address existing flooding issues and make the course more challenging. The course received a major renovation in 2009 in which many features were redesigned to improve strategy. The drainage system was upgraded to address flooding issues that affected at least nine holes and a new pumping and filtration system was installed to improve the quality of water used to irrigate the course. Additional bunker and feature work was performed on nearly every hole at Weequahic to emphasize the natural beauty of the course’s rolling landscape. More than half of the course’s tees were rebuilt or expanded to provide better playing conditions, and several new cart paths to improve safety were installed.