Moor Downs Golf Course in Waukesha has been called a hidden gem. A former resort turned university, turned county park, turned city landmark, Moor Downs offers inexpensive options for the casual golfer, experimenter and beginner to dabble on its 9-holes.
"Waukesha County is committed to introducing the game of golf to young golfers and offering seniors on a fixed income the opportunity to continue enjoying the game of golf," said Ginny Bocek, Parks Program Specialist with Waukesha County Parks. "Moor Downs is the only course within the City of Waukesha, it is a 9-hole course so it can be a great after-work opportunity as well as a great place to learn and enjoy the game."
John Weber originally bought the land in 1902 according to historical documents from Waukesha County Museum and provided by Waukesha County Parks.
Weber operated the Waukesha Moor Bath Company, opening a hotel in 1911, the spring house in 1912 and adding the golf course in 1915. According to records, at one time the Moor Bath house was said to be the largest of its kind in America and doctors recommended its mud baths for the treatment of ailments and diseases.
From 1946-62 various businessmen ran the operation before its purchase by the Salvatorian Fathers for a seminary-college which was then known as Mt. St. Paul College. In 1966, it went from a seminary to a community college and in 1969 allowed women. Eventually, the college merged with Dominican College in Racine in 1970.
The county purchased the property in 1972 and a 1974 article from the Milwaukee Sentinel shows the initial discussions to create a permanent golf course on the property, although it was still undecided how large it would be.
Waukesha County made modifications to the course and the clubhouse over the years. In January of 2001 the City of Waukesha Landmarks Commission designated the course a National Register of Historic Places Site, including the Moor Downs Mud Bath/Grandview Health Resort Building, the Moor Downs Clubhouse and the Moor Downs Spring House in addition to the golf course.
With rates ranging from $9-$18, Moor Downs allows even those on a small budget to tee-up.
Moor Downs participates in the nationally-run Sticks for Kids programs which provides the golf course the opportunity to offer junior clubs to rent for free. They also partner with the City of Waukesha Park, Recreation and Forestry Department to offer beginner golf lessons and junior leagues and lesson programs. They also include the whole family when on Sundays after noon, junior golfers can golf free with a paying adult.
"This offers the opportunity for the family to reconnect on the golf course," Bocek said.
When asked why it's a priority to Moor Downs to ensure kids can get out on the green, Bocek said it's simple.
"With the increase of obesity within the United States, getting children and families involved in golf or any recreational opportunity is a priority for Waukesha County. We want our residents to know there are many great ways to get outside and get active," Bocek said.
Moor Downs also offers a both lessons for ladies and a ladies league.
A county gem
Being a part of the Waukesha County Park System allows Moor Downs the stability to keep rates low, allowing more people to enjoy the benefits.
"Waukesha County's Department of Parks and Land Use runs three courses within the Park System Division which allows the opportunity to run a '45 hole' business and project for 100 percent cost recovery of operational costs, over all three courses," Bocek said. "By keeping the rates lower, it encourages golfers who want to learn the game, to feel less intimidated and for those who want a prefect their game or spend more time out on a course."
Moor Downs has also been a key parcel to provide green space in the City of Waukesha and storm water management functions for the Government Center.
The course also brings important events into the county including hosting the PGA Future Champions event and the Special Olympics State Outdoor Sports Tournament which was hosted Aug. 3 and 4.
For more on Moor Downs and Waukesha County's other two courses or to book tee times, visit www.golfwaukeshacounty.com or call the clubhouse at (262) 548-7821.
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