Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Zablocki Golf Course Getting Synthetic Turf

Will become first public course in county to get artificial greens and tee boxes.

By - Apr 19th, 2023 08:29 pm
Photo from Milwaukee County Parks.

Photo from Milwaukee County Parks.

Zablocki Park Golf Course will soon become the first public golf course in Milwaukee County to feature synthetic putting greens and tee boxes.

Artificial turf is nothing new in the world of sport, but it will be new for the world of county golf courses. Milwaukee County Parks has plans to install synthetic putting greens and tee boxes at Zablocki as a sort of pilot program.

Synthetic greens require less water and don’t need to be trimmed or manicured or zapped with pesticides. In effect, Parks wants to see how much money it can save on water, staff time and fertilizer by installing artificial greens in the parks system, Jeremy Lucas, director of Administration and Planning told Urban Milwaukee.

A United Kingdom-based purveyor of artificial greens boasts their “low maintenance” and states, “Artificial grass provides a consistent, quality surface that resembles the perfectly manicured green of a championship course. It also offers excellent roll and ball speed.”

One avid golfer told Urban Milwaukee they thought a synthetic green at shorter, “chip and put” courses like Zablocki or Lake Park makes sense. These courses don’t see the loving care that the system’s larger, more prized courses do and artificial turf would allow for a more consistent putting surface, they said.

Zablocki, a nine-hole course founded in 1968, is the shortest course in the parks system. The longest hole at the par 3 course is only 117 yards.

The department is currently looking for a contractor that can install the greens, and funding for the project will come out of the county’s allocation of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars. It’s expected that the synthetic turf will “significantly reduce the operations and maintenance cost” at the golf course, according to a document prepared by the county’s Department of Administration (DAS).

In the summer of 2022, the county board approved a $21.9 million ARPA spending package that was aimed at projects that will save money in the long term. Included in that package was just over $6 million for irrigation and golf cart paths at county golf courses. The idea being that a new irrigation system saves staff time and new cart paths increase the lucrative golf cart rentals. The funding for the new greens at Zablocki will be pulled from this allocation, Lucas said.

Golf has become a critical element for the cash-strapped parks system because of the revenue it brings in annually. In response to its financial reality, the parks department has invested in programs that bring in additional revenue for the system, like beer gardens and golf courses, among other things, and now generates more than 50% of its own annual budget. An unseasonably warm fall in 2020 stretched out the golf season and helped the department close a budget gap.

Categories: MKE County, Parks, Weekly

One thought on “MKE County: Zablocki Golf Course Getting Synthetic Turf”

  1. tharms0416 says:

    It may help to automatically include location details when referring to parks.

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