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Buhl Park working on a million-dollar expansion to its golf building

Mar. 23—HERMITAGE — Buhl Park will complete a million-dollar renovation project on its First Tee golf building at the Buhl Park Golf Course by the end of May.

County commissioners added to the pot of investors when they awarded the park $20,000 from its Economic Development Capital Reserve fund for the learning center addition.

That money was a portion of the county's property taxes that commissioners put in reserve for economic development.

"The project benefits more than just one community and will bring people into the area," commissioners Chairman Ann Coleman said.

The estimated project cost is $1,014,607 with additional funding sources from Penn-Northwest Development Corp., Visit Mercer County and private foundations.

Tom Roskos, Buhl Park's executive director, said the primary purpose of the project is to teach golf all year round.

"It's tremendous to have this support for such a resource for our valley," Roskos said. "It's been a very collaborative effort."

The project will include three indoor hitting bays, a fitness area, an indoor putting green, space for group and corporate gatherings and expansion of current building for additional customer flow.

In the new addition to the building, three state-of-art hitting bays were built to accommodate any groups that come in to practice their game, or for anyone to learn golf and practice their swing.

Roskos said since COVID, the golf course, which is the nation's only free golf course, has seen tremendous increases in usage.

"Our junior golf programming has exploded as well," Roskos said. "Use of the facilities has grown so we needed to expand to accommodate that. We needed to give folks room to be able to continue to learn the game."

He said they're teaching kids as early as 3 years old and as old as 90.

"I call them kids because you're outside, you're playing a game you really enjoy," Roskos said.

Roskos said the number of people who visit the facility is very high.

"And they're from everywhere in the county — Shenango Valley, Reynolds, Greenville, Hickory, Sharon, West Middlesex. High school teams are using the facility to practice," Roskos said. "They practice in the winter, they practice in the summer and with the indoor addition, they will be able to be in there all the time."

The project broke ground in November, and Roskos is hoping that the work will be completed May 31 in time for their golf scramble fundraiser.

County Commissioner Tim McGonigle said the money from the county is a great investment.

"I was out there in the rain and I couldn't believe how many cars were in that parking lot, so keep up the good work and put this money to good use," McGonigle told Roskos.

The adjacent nine-hole Buhl Park Golf Course is believed to be the only free public golf course in the country. It was built more than a century ago, along with the 300-acre Buhl Park across the road, as a gift to the community by Sharon industrialist and philanthropist Frank H. Buhl.

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com