Photo courtesy Essex County
District and township officials gather at Hendricks Field golf course in Belleville on June 9 to announce a partnership with First Tee to create a learning center and three-hole practice course for the park’s youth development program.
BELLEVILLE, NJ – Essex County executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. announced a partnership with First Tee on Wednesday June 9 to create a learning center and three-hole practice course for the youth development program at Hendricks Field Golf Course in Belleville to be Essex County’s second First Tea program and enable the organization to enroll more children in its programs. First Tee is a nationally recognized program that uses the game of golf to help young people develop leadership skills, learn life lessons, and prepare academically for higher education. In 2005, Essex County welcomed First Tee at Newark’s Weequahic Golf Course.
“First Tee was a huge win at Weequahic Park as it taught new generations of young people the game of golf and prepared them for higher education and the challenges of life,” said DiVincenzo. “Expanding our partnership to Hendricks Field is a wonderful opportunity to offer enriching leisure time alternatives to another area of our county and to enable more young people to benefit from it.”
The First Tee Learning Center in Hendricks Field will have a 4,000-square-foot building with indoor and outdoor practice areas, a classroom for STEM teaching, offices, restrooms, and storage. The golf training rooms will have garage doors that can be opened to allow students to stand inside and kick balls out of the building in bad or cold weather. This means that programs can also be offered all year round. The classroom will make it possible to offer a STEM summer academy, tutoring and SAT prep activities.
“We are so grateful to County Executive DiVincenzo for his continued partnership and support, along with … our donors, who enable our work to help more Essex youth on this new First Tea campus,” said Ed Brockner, Executive Director of First Tea . “This remarkable learning center, designed by the talented architects at Rogers McCagg, along with the beautifully renovated golf course will allow us to bring more youth to our Recreational and Path to College programs with an emphasis on reaching out to those in need . ”
“First Tee has been great at bringing new generations of different young people into the sport of golf. Just think of the opportunities it presents and the opportunities for development for our youth, ”said Teresa Ruiz, Senator from NJ State and Deputy Chief of Staff for Essex County.
“This is another wonderful Essex County occasion,” said Commissioner President Wayne Richardson. “Projects like this make Essex County stand out and make us number one.”
“I would like to thank Joe D. for his commitment to implementing projects. This will be a tremendous addition to Belleville and a great opportunity for children, “said Belleville Mayor Michael Melham.
A three-hole Learning Links short course in the northeast corner of Hendricks Field is already under construction. 7 acres of Hendricks Field Golf Course will be part of the First Tee Campus, which will include three practice holes ranging from 50 to 160 yards. One of the holes is based on the classic design of Hendricks Square in the form of a Biarritz, which has a larger green area. 10 to 12 students can line up on this green for chipping training.
A new entry point for the First Tea program will be created on Joralemon Street in Belleville, not far from the Belleville Recreation Department. A small parking lot will be created for First Tee participants and their parents.
First Tee currently enrolls more than 600 teenagers annually on its program at Weequahic Golf Course in Newark.
First Tee hired Rogers McCagg, a Connecticut-based architecture firm that specializes in golf course furnishings. Paterson-based APS Contracting Inc. won a $ 1,987,000 public contract to build the learning facility. The county will fund the construction of the clubhouse with a grant from the NJ Department of Community Affairs. It should be ready by the end of 2021.