Noyes Park, First Tee program providing free golf and education for area youth

NOW: Noyes Park, First Tee program providing free golf and education for area youth

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee County Park system is home to 13 public golf courses, each providing its own unique set of challenges and playing experience. Founded in 1975, the Noyes Park course is home to nine holes, all under 110 yards.

"It had started getting a little bit of a bad reputation," explained Jonathan Fritsch, assistant superintendent with Milwaukee County Golf and the man in charge of taking care of the nine links at Noyes. "The greens were kind of neglected over the years. It also had no fairways when I started."

A former schoolteacher, Fritsch traded in the textbooks for the yard tools last fall and was tasked with transforming the run-down course.

"I treat it like my backyard. I treat it just like I own the property," Fritsch said. "I get to come in every day and I mow my greens and my fairways and make sure everything's living and looking nice, and it's just me."

In less than a year, he's well on his way.

"The fairways are coming in really nice. They're green. The tee boxes, I made much larger and they're growing really well in green and healing in. We've gotten the greens back and the greens are looking really, really nice," Fritsch said proudly. "I wanted to make this a place where people were excited to come, and kids could understand, they could understand golf."

The course serves as a home base for Southeastern Wisconsin's First Tee chapter, a non-profit aimed at introducing the game of golf to kids in the community who otherwise may not have the opportunity to pick up a golf club.

"It's trying to make sure that we can provide those welcoming experiences for kids and young people to experience a game, to get excited about playing and then continue playing it, because it's a lifelong sport and they can play it forever," said David Cohn, CEO and Executive Director of Southeast Wisconsin's First Tee chapter. "Some of the things we talk about; honesty, integrity, respect, responsibility. You learn from being around the game of golf."

Funded by donors, the First Tee program, in partnership with the parks, has helped fund the renovation of the Noyes Park course. It now serves as a perfect place to host camps and provide area youth with a free place to play golf, no matter what their skill level or experience.

"Jonathan, the new ground superintendent who's been taking care of the golf courses here. It's just an incredible job keeping getting the golf course into great shape, working with what they have because, you know, it's not all it's not always easy," Cohn said. "To get the golf course in the condition that it's in and offer this to kids, families, adults, you know, seniors; it's great. It's a great golf course to play, to practice and to learn the game."

A great course, resurrected by combining work, play and a love for the game of golf.

"I want people to come here and look at it and think it's one of the best places in all of Milwaukee," Fritsch said. "I think golf has taken off. So, to give more young children the opportunity, I think, is amazing."

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