The Future of Milwaukee County Parks’ Few Remaining Par-3 Golf Courses

With the closure of Doyne Park Golf Course, we wanted to check in on the last three pitch-and-putt courses.


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The permanent closure of the Doyne Park Golf Course on Milwaukee’s West Side this year leaves only a trio of Milwaukee County’s traditional par-3 courses still in operation.

One of those courses, the layout at Noyes Park on the city’s Northwest Side, had been facing a similar fate as Doyne but now appears to be safe for the long term.

“It was in the same conversation as Doyne. The same problems,” Milwaukee County Parks Deputy Director Jim Tarantino said at a neighborhood meeting held last week to determine the future use of the former Doyne Park course.

Anthony Totoraitis at Doyne Park Golf Course on May 17, 2022; Photo by Rich Rovito

RELATED: Doyne Park Golf Course Is Closed. Now What?

Fewer than 2,000 rounds of golf are played annually at Noyes, which opened in 1975, a figure Tarantino deemed as “not a lot.”

Aiding in Noyes’ survival is a partnership with First Tee Southeast Wisconsin, a nonprofit founded in 2004 that incorporates values inherent in golf into the daily lives of youth who participate in the organization’s programs. First Tee has its base of operations at Noyes, 8235 W. Good Hope Road.

“They do really good work with youth outreach and growing the game,” Tarantino said.

But the life saver for Noyes is a $1 million project, paid for with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, that will provide much needed improvements to the course’s irrigation system.

“That buys us about three decades for keeping Noyes open,” Tarantino said.

The Parks Department has considered altering the setup at Noyes and possibly shifting from a nine-hole layout to a four-hole practice course with a youth focus.

“But I think we are going to keep it as a standard nine-hole, par-3 course,” Tarantino said.

Besides Noyes, the only “pitch and putt” courses still operating under the direction of Milwaukee County Parks are at Lake Park on the East Side and Zablocki Park on the South Side.

The Lake Park course, 3133 E Newberry Blvd., offers 18 holes, all less than 85 yards. The layout makes the course an attractive option for beginning golfers and families. But a message on the Lake Park Golf Course website landing page warns: “Due to staff shortages, playing conditions may be variable.”

Despite the challenges, Tarantino quickly shrugged off any suggestion of the demise of the Lake Park layout.

“Lake Park is historic,” he said. “It’s been there for 100 and some years. It’s not going anywhere.”

The Lake Park course opened as a six-hole layout in 1903 before being expanded to 18 holes in 1930, according to Lake Park Friends, a nonprofit that promotes the preservation of the park.

APRA funds also are being earmarked for irrigation improvements at Lake Park.

A similar project is planned for the pitch-and-putt course at Zablocki Park, a busy nine-hole course located at 3798 W. Loomis Road that has been in operation since 1968.

“Zablocki is really, really well used,” Tarantino said.

Doyne, 5300 W. Wells St., joined a growing list of shuttered traditional par-3 golf courses operated by Milwaukee County, which has been facing budget shortfalls and staffing shortages.

The courses at Madison and Dineen parks closed for traditional golf use years ago. The Madison Park course, which opened in 1976, closed in 2019. It was converted into a disc golf course last year. The Dineen Park par-3 course, which operated from 1962 to 2004, also was converted to a disc golf course that opened in 2006 and was remodeled in 2020.

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.