Four years after Galloping Hill rebuild, Ash Brook golf course gets its turn

Photo by Brian Trusdell
Rubble and construction equipment sit on the site of the old clubhouse at Ash Brook Golf Course in Scotch Plains in anticipation of an $8.9 million rebuild.

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ  — Ash Brook Golf Course in Scotch Plains will be undergoing a massive rebuild, with an Oct. 10 groundbreaking marking the latest phase of the $8.9 million project slated for completion in September 2018.

The old clubhouse will be replaced by a new 21,000-square-foot building off Raritan Road that will include a full-service restaurant and terrace accommodating up to 120 people, a full pro shop, administrative offices, public restrooms, an underground cart barn for a new fleet of 90 electric golf carts and a full service turn stand.

According to Union County Freeholder Alexander Mirabella in an Oct. 10 press release, prior to the county’s involvement, Ash Brook was a “decaying, money-losing golf operation.”

He said the upgrades will place Ash Brook beside Galloping Hills Golf Course in Kenilworth as, “one of the state’s leading public golf courses.”
The nearly $18 million bonded refurbishment of Galloping Hill, which also included the additions of a practice range, course redesign and other changes, was completed in 2013, complete with a 46,000-square-foot banquet hall and clubhouse large enough to accommodate 300 people. The par-72, 18-hole course also includes a 673-yard, par-27 pitch-and-putt layout.

These improvements led to Galloping Hill being selected In September 2016 as the first public course to host the New Jersey State Golf Association Open in 95 years.

The entire demolition has been been completed and construction is now under way, Sebastian D’Elia, spokesman for Union County Freeholders and member of the Union County Improvement Authority, told LocalSource on Oct. 11.

Mar-Bridge Enterprises, a Matawan-based construction firm has been contracted for the project, D’Elia added.
As with Galloping Hill, other renovations part of the Ash Brook project include course drainage improvements, tree work and bunkers rebuilt to industry standards.

Ash Brook’s website notes that the work yet to be done is the more extensive bunker work and a new irrigation system.
“These improvements continue to solidify Union County’s reputation as a state leader in this sport and the home of public golf,” Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen said in the county press release. “Our courses are known for their playability, customer service and top-notch amenities, comparable to private courses.”

Seven years ago, management of Ash Brook was outsourced to Kempersports under Union County Golf Properties. One of the larger public courses in the state, Ash Brook was originally designed by Alfred Tull and opened in 1953. It is known for its tree-lined fairways and the wildlife living on the premises, including deer and wild turkeys.

At one time, the calls of animals from the long gone Terry Lou Zoo on the neighboring property across Raritan Road could be heard by those playing the front nine.