Chicago, IL

Friday December 14, 2018

     The Chicago Park District’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution for engineering services to implement the South Lakefront Framework Plan during their monthly meeting on Wednesday December 12, 2018.  Created through a series of more than a dozen public meetings with over 2,300 registered attendees in 2017-2018, the South Lakefront Framework Plan offers community-guided recommendations for the Jackson Park and South Shore Golf Courses as well as the Obama Presidential Center and surrounding park amenities.  While the need to “improve the golf courses to modern industry standards” was previously identified in a similar process in 1999, such prospects have advanced significantly with the involvement of Tiger Woods’ TGR Design and emergence of private funding sources over the past two years.

Tiger Woods & Mark Rolfing

     Tiger’s enthusiasm ties to his own upbringing at urban, municipal courses: “For me, growing up on a public golf course was instrumental in getting the experience to compete and play.”  Elaborating upon the site and its importance to the surrounding neighborhoods, he described, “There are certain aspects that no other golf course in the world can say: To have a skyline like that. To have an opportunity to design something that is for the City, and is public. We can create something so special.”

     The Park District’s latest resolution extends their contract with the Smith Group engineering firm for 3.5 years, including resources to support “renovation of the golf course, driving range and support facilities.”  Pursuant to the contract, Smith Group will assist the Park District with  “layout, grading and planting of non-golf areas and park trails” and coordinate with TGR Design “who will develop the horizontal layout, grading and planting of the golf course.”

Lessons at South Shore

     During the public comment portion of the meeting, Jackson Park Advisory Council President Louise McCurry complimented, “The community has spoken.  Our children have spoken.  We must listen to our children, and introduce them to a wide array of athletic and nature-oriented activities within our parks.”

   Al DeBonnett, Chairperson of the Jackson Park Golf and Community Leadership Committee, echoed McCurry’s sentiments and declared, “Now is the time to act upon long-sought improvements, put South Siders to work, and create a legacy for our stunning lakefront.”

     Heather Gleason, Director of Planning and Development for the Chicago Park District, presented the measure to Superintendent Michael Kelly and the Commissioners.  Gleason stated, “This plan is a community-based vision for the future of Jackson Park and South Shore. Residents and local stakeholders played a pivotal role in designing and shaping a better future for the South Lakefront.”  Within her remarks, Gleason highlighted upgrades to baseball diamonds, a new dog park, and new beach house at South Shore Cultural Center among desired projects.  Likewise, she noted that extending the agreement with Smith Group would provide a necessary next step for TGR Design’s plans for a restored 18-hole golf course and new family short course.

     Following the meeting, Mark Rolfing, Founder and President of the Chicago Park Golf Alliance, stated “Thanks to Superintendent Kelly and the Board of Commissioners for this week’s advancement. The Chicago Parks Golf Alliance is focused upon new scholarship and career pipelines, along with philanthropic neighborhood investment. Restoring the century-old courses can spur impact far beyond the game.  This is an extremely significant step toward launching construction in 2019.”

Tiger Woods at Jackson Park for Youth Clinic in 1993