Tiger Woods firm unveils design for South Side PGA-caliber golf course

Maudlyne Ihejirika





CHICAGO 06/21/2017, 5:30pm

Tiger Woods’ design firm on Wednesday released final designs for a $30 million plan to bring a PGA-caliber golf course on the city’s South Side by merging the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses — a parkland style course that sets out to preserve the historic nature of the two parks.

The plan, obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, creates a single, 18-hole, par-70 course from the 18-hole Jackson Park and 9-hole, par-3 South Shore course, preserving much of the landscape of the century-old courses. Mature trees will be preserved throughout to frame many of the holes on the new 7,354-yard course; with a single cut of rough blending into native grasses to restore a prairie-like aesthetic.

Highlighted are lake views on the southern portion of the course, through the opening up of sweeping, panoramic views of Lake Michigan and Chicago’s skyline, visible from six of the holes, with the stunning views on holes 12-14.

The 11th hole will lead players to the shoreline near the current 6th green at South Shore golf course. Sight lines for the Par-3 12th green span from the Museum of Science and Industry to the Chicago skyline. And players can enjoy yet another waterside Par-3 on the 14th tee, hitting toward the site of the current 2nd green at South Shore golf course.

Ample width is offered off the tee, with liberal fairways and surrounds cut low to promote a variety of recovery shots to subtly contoured, medium to large greens, with five par-3s, three par-5s, and a re-contoured lake to stop balls short of the eighth green.

“The unique heritage of Jackson Park along with the historic nature of the two existing courses have inspired our design,” the conceptual golf course routing by Woods’ TGR Design states.

“We are looking to maximize playability with ample width and low cut green surrounds while still offering a strategic test for players of all skill levels. We want to ensure that we provide a memorable course for all ages to enjoy, but also one which will stand up to the world’s best players,” the firm states.

In a nod to community demands, the designs include a new 6-hole family short course along Jackson Park’s current 18th fairway, with lengths ranging 60 to 85 yards, offering beginners the opportunity to learn the game from tee to green, and more advanced players a quick loop to sharpen their wedge game.

Jackson Park’s Cecil Partee Clubhouse will be renovated and preserved as the center of family golf activities, with renovation including the addition of year-round practice facilities with golf simulators, an indoor putting green, classroom programming space for First Tee of Greater Chicago, and social space for the community, which had pushed hard for year-round access in a city subject to months of devastating cold.

“Over the past several months, what we have heard from community input is the need for affordability, access and doing more for kids, and one of the repeated themes we heard from the community was the ability to have some indoor practice spaces to be able to enjoy the game of golf year-round,” said Brian Hogan, a founding director of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance.”

“The Tiger Woods design team was very interested in incorporating what the longtime golfers and community wanted to see,” Hogan said.

It was in December that the mayor announced the plan to place a championship-caliber golf course adjacent to the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. Since then, the golf alliance has met with four community groups for input, the Jackson Park and South Shore Cultural Center advisory councils, Ald. Leslie Hairston’s 5th Ward Leadership Advisory Committee and the Jackson Park Golf Association.

Hogan’s group is expected to raise private money to cover 80 percent of the cost for the new golf course. Public money will pay for shoreline improvements and new underpasses — at 67th Street and South Shore Drive, and 66th Street and Jeffery Boulevard — as well as the closing of Marquette Drive between Cornell and Lake Shore Drive.

Last month, Woods’ DUI arrest and the skyrocketing cost of infrastructure projects raised questions about the viability of the golf course merger.

Designs are being unveiled publicly at 6 p.m. Wednesday at South Shore Cultural Center by the city, Chicago Park District, TGR Design, and the golf alliance, at a meeting to discuss the future of Jackson and South Shore parks in light of the Obama library, new golf course and other improvements.

Subsequent meetings are planned for 10 a.m. June 24 at Hyde Park High School, and 6 p.m. June 27 at a 5th Ward meeting sponsored by Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) at La Rabida Children’s Hospital.

Autumn Ford, 15, a sophomore at Kenwood Academy, is among the early youth beneficiaries of programming surrounding the new golf course. Among 20 Chicago Public Schools teens selected from dozens of applicants for a Western Golf Association caddy program providing jobs and mentoring this summer, she was at Jackson Park Tuesday night for orientation.

“I’ve played for a couple of years with First Tee. My mom figured it was one of those sports where it’s so rare to see a young, African-American girl playing, so she registered me,” said Ford. “Our instructor who was a caddy and won the Evans Scholarship was saying how he’s about to go to law school, and it was someone he caddied for who helped him get in. So I’m excited about the opportunities this can offer me now as well as later in life.”