Telling stories of the greatest golf project in Chicago history
By Ed Sherman
Welcome to our newly designed Chicago Parks Golf Alliance site. Please visit my blog on a regular basis to get my latest stories documenting this historic golf project. We will have behind-the-scenes insights about the plans, construction and reports about how this endeavor will impact the community, near and far.
I am thrilled to be part of the team.
Admittedly, I was surprised, if not stunned, to read Teddy Greenstein’s piece in the Chicago Tribune last December announcing the formation of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance. Plans now were gaining significant traction for a restoration of the venerable Jackson Park and South Shore courses, ultimately producing an 18-hole championship caliber layout. And the architect was going to be none other than Tiger Woods.
When NBC golf analyst and Chicago-area native Mark Rolfing first mentioned his grand dream to me a few years back, I was more than skeptical he could do it. He is quick to remind me I hardly was alone in feeling that way. Almost everyone in the local golf community felt there were too many obstacles to pull off such a mammoth golf project in Chicago. Frankly, I never thought he would get to the first tee.
Clearly, Mark’s unique vision for golf in his hometown resonated with civic, community and Chicago leaders. As I read Teddy’s story that day, I thought, “Wow, this thing could really happen.” I didn’t hesitate. I immediately sent a text to Mark.
“I want in.”
I have been part of the local Chicago golf scene for more than 20 years as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago District Golfer Magazine and other publications. I also just started my eighth year as co-host with Steve Olken of “The Scorecard,” our Saturday morning golf show from 6-8 a.m. on WSCR-670.
Furthermore, I grew up as a public golfer and have been playing public courses for more than 50 years. I have played numerous rounds at Jackson Park and South Shore. I always have loved the urban feel of those courses. In my mind, South Shore is a hidden gem. Very few area golfers know there was a course with holes right on Lake Michigan, and it doesn’t cost an arm and leg to play it. In fact, during my days living in the city, I used to take lessons at Jackson Park with noted pro Emmanuel Worley.
But in all my years playing and writing about the game, I never envisioned anything rivaling the scope of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance proposal. It is going to be the largest and most significant golf project in the history of Chicago golf. Adding to the excitement will be Woods’ presence as the designer. As he did as a young pro, he has wasted little time making his impact felt as a golf course architect; his first signature courses have received rave reviews.
How could I not be a part of this?
I told Mark in that text and in subsequent conversations that I wanted to help make this dream come true. Towards that effort, we decided this 14-handicapper could make his biggest contribution by using my reporting and writing skills.
In essence, I will be telling the story of what is taking place with the Chicago Golf Parks Golf Alliance at Jackson Park and South Shore. And much will happen before the first shovel ever breaks ground
In this space, you will read about a new caddy program being instituted at Jackson Park. Thanks to the support of the Western Golf Association and First Tee of Greater Chicago, area youth will get their first taste of hauling bags down the fairways. It will teach them lessons in the work ethic required to do the job, and for some, the job could lead to a path to college through the prestigious Evans Scholars program.
You also will read about programs designed to get younger players to play golf, and there will be stories on the veterans of Jackson Park and South Shore. They will share their experiences of being the heart and soul of these courses for generations.
Of course, you will get detailed reports of Woods’ plans for the renovated course. What is his vision? How will he design a course for the best players in the world that also can accommodate 14-handicappers like me and you?
I am looking forward to telling the many exciting stories in the next few years. Mark and the rest of the team are confident that the finished product will be a game-changer for Chicago and the talk of golf throughout the U.S.
Please join us to see how this epic endeavor unfolds.