BELLEVILLE, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. announced Sept. 25 that a $5.2 million project to renovate and upgrade Hendricks Field Golf Course in Belleville has been completed. The improvements have completely transformed Hendricks Field Golf Course into a championship-caliber facility, according to the county.
“Hendricks Field Golf Course is a hidden jewel in our parks system and the improvements make the course even more remarkable. Not only have the playing conditions been modernized, but we have made the course more environmentally sustainable,” DiVincenzo said. “When golfers come to Hendricks, they will think they are playing on a private course. This exemplifies our ongoing initiative to provide first-class recreation facilities that meet the needs of our residents.”
The project addressed many longstanding issues affecting the course and included the redesign and addition of several holes to accommodate the practice facility being constructed for The First Tee youth golf program. While every hole was updated in some way, the historical design elements of Charles Banks, a renowned golf architect who originally designed Hendricks Field when it opened in 1929, were preserved or followed.
To replace the two holes that are being included in The First Tee facility, two new holes were created in the southern section of the course at the border of Branch Brook Park. Hole 11 is a 575-yard par-5 that was inspired by the Road Hole at the Old Course of St. Andrews in Scotland. Hole 11 is the longest hole at Hendricks. Hole 12 was designed as a three-tiered, mini-Biarritz, which is a signature Banks design. Because of the proximity to Branch Brook Park, cherry blossom trees were planted throughout holes 11 and 12.
One of the most challenging holes is the 190-yard, par-3 eighth hole. The Redan design has the greens falling away from the approach.
The drainage system throughout the course was upgraded, including on all tees, greens and along the fairways. Miles of the new drainage system were installed. In addition, the historic cobblestone creek, which is part of the course’s original design and aids in drainage, was cleaned and repaired. A new irrigation system was installed on the new holes that were created.
Tee areas were rebuilt or laser leveled, and tee areas and greens were regrassed. Tee areas were designed to accommodate all skill levels and bunkers were also restored. Continuous paved cart paths were installed.
To promote environmental sustainability, naturalized areas were enhanced and expanded; this reduces the amount of grass areas where gas-powered mowers need to be operated. More than 100 trees were planted throughout the course and better grass varieties were used to resist drought, require less watering and use less pesticides.
Restroom facilities were improved at all locations in the golf course and interior improvements were made to modernize accommodations in the main clubhouse. In the spring of 2022, a large, open-air pavilion will be constructed on the grounds for use during golf tournaments and to host other events.
In a separate project, construction of The First Tee practice facility is underway. The facility will include a three-hole practice course, three greens, a large practice bunker and a building for indoor instruction. One side of the building will have garage doors that can be opened so the room can be used as a driving range during inclement weather. The groundbreaking for The First Tee facility was held in June and it is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.