Young golfers who participate in the First Tee of Salina program will soon have a new place to gather and meet. The construction of the new Joe Milbradt Pavilion on the east side of the First Tee office at the Salina Municipal Golf Course is underway.
“We identified a need for space at the Muni for large golf groups and First Tee had similar needs for their golfers to gather,” Mike Hargrave said. Hargrave is the PGA golf pro and program director for the Salina Municipal Golf Course. The project has been in the works for several years and became a partnership between the Muni, with city funding, the Men’s Golf Association and First Tee, combined with a gift from longtime golfer Joe Milbradt.
“Joe thought that every child deserves a chance,” said Heather Hemmy, granddaughter of Joe Milbradt. “The Muni was his second home. I knew I could always find him there. That’s where his friends were, especially the guys who played on senior days on Thursdays.”
Joe Milbradt was 95 when he died in 2014 and left a substantial gift to the Muni through the First Tee program.
“Our Men’s Golf Association and other organizations who do tournaments need a space to gather and to make awards after they golf,” Hargrave said. “Often, our indoor space is simply not large enough.”
“We held some benefit tourneys to raise money to fund the Pavilion,” Hargrave said. “First Tee became involved. And, one of our great old-time golfers, Joe Milbradt, left First Tee a generous gift when he passed away. And, city funding is part of the partnership for the project.”
“To see something that he envisioned, something that was so important to him, is amazing,” Hemmy said. “He was always very giving and kind-hearted.”
“The Pavilion took longer than we anticipated, but we’re making it happen and we’re so grateful,” Hargrave stated.
The Joe Milbradt Pavilion will be about 65 feet by 35 feet with a 9-foot ceiling and translucent garage doors on multiple sides, so it can be opened in good weather. It’s intended to have flexible seating arrangements for various events. It will have the same rules for alcohol as public parks, so adult golfers can enjoy a beer after a tourney.
“The First Tee of Salina program started in May, 2001,” said Eric Bonar, executive director. “The new pavilion will be a great place for our golfers to gather before checking in and going out to golf. And, then we can do our wrap up after the lesson.”
First Tee started as a public/private partnership between the City of Salina and The First Tee of Salina, a local nonprofit group that promotes child development through the game of golf. In addition to teaching and improving golf skills for children ages 7-17, First Tee programs also include life skills training in areas such as goal setting, meeting, greeting and conflict management. Instructors provide lessons meant to be a positive influence in building character.
“We hope to have the construction of the Pavilion completed by the end of the year,” Hargrave said. ‘Again, we’re grateful to see this coming to fruition. And we’ll hold a nice dedication to recognize Joe Milbradt and his gift to First Tee. The Pavilion will be ready for next spring’s tourneys, events and First Tee lessons.”
In thinking of her grandfather’s legacy and the Pavilion’s impact for years to come, Heather Hemmy thought it was great that the Muni would have “a little bit of him forever.”