Why do you want to change these golf courses?
These two course are located in a beautiful part of Chicago and can certainly be fun to play, but they’re both well over 100 years old. They lack proper drainage and irrigation, the bunkers become ponds and mud pits, while the fairways are narrower than the most difficult courses on the PGA Tour. Most importantly, many long time golfers at South Shore and Jackson Park have called for the courses to be improved to modern industry standards.
What are Jackson Park & South Shore’s longtime, loyal golfers saying about the project?
The Chicago Parks Golf Alliance is proud to collaborate with the Jackson Park Golf Association, a coalition representing over 500 golfers who call these courses home. Jackson Park Golf Association has hosted multiple forums to inform local golfers and raise their ideas and concerns to Tiger Woods’ TGR Design and Park District leadership. They expressed support in an October 2017 letter to the Chicago Tribune, with particular compliments to the Park District’s pledge to keep rates below $50 for Chicago resident’s and continue the policy of free play for Chicago’s junior golfers. The letter stated, “We appreciate and demand quality and would gladly accept a modest price increase for a world-class golf experience closer to home.” Subsequently, in a February 2018 statement, Jackson Park Golf Association thanked Tiger Wood’s TGR Design for “listening to and positively acting upon our suggestions.” This support statement emphatically declared, “Now is the time to modernize the courses and revitalize our community aesthetically and economically.”
If this is an elite golf course, can I still afford to play it?
The golf course improvements are being designed by an elite golfer—arguably the greatest ever!— but this course will be for everyone. With the CPGA raising private charitable contributions to fund golf course improvements, the Park District has pledged rates will remain below $50 for Chicago residents…and maintain its policy of allowing Chicago’s Junior Golfers to play for free.
Won’t Tiger Woods build a golf course that is only playable for people who hit the ball like he does?
Tiger Woods’ design philosophy is to make golf more fun for players of all skill levels. With wider fairways, bigger greens, firmer fairways, and improved sand traps; golfers will have a more enjoyable experience. Tiger elaborates, “Our motivation is to create a course that will adapt to varying levels of play, bringing people together and allowing for multi-generational experiences.”
What about my league? We’ve played at South Shore and Jackson Park for years.
The restored course will continue to be a hub for leagues. This course is for the community and we are glad to see those traditions continue. As mentioned above, we are specifically coordinating with the Jackson Park Golf Association, which represents 9 golf leagues who call South Shore and Jackson Park their home courses. Their input has been shared with the TGR Design team regarding style of the course, and will continue shaping Chicago Park District policies with regard to affordability and access.
Will the proposed 15th hole replace the nature sanctuary at South Shore Cultural Center?
The Chicago Parks Golf Alliance and Tiger Woods’ TGR Design team are working with the Park District to address any natural areas that could potentially be impacted by the golf course. We are committed to improving the interface of all recreational activities on the grounds of South Shore including beaches, trail ways, picnic areas, and the golf course. Specifically, the golf course design proposal would adhere to guidance of maintaining the same ratio of golf to non-golf acreage at South Shore (with the golf course currently occupying approximately 47 of South Shore’s 60 acres). While the 15th hole could involve reshaping of the current natural area, the majority of this area, including the pond, will remain in place. Plans also include a new natural area and trails directly north of the South Shore Cultural Center building. Overall, plans would double the amount of natural area acreage across the South Shore Cultural Center grounds increasing from 5.5 acres to more than 11 acres. We look forward to continued discussions with all users of the park to ensure sustainability of their favorite park features for many years to come. Please consider the following regarding natural areas and golf course designs:
- The current natural area was created in the last 20 years.
- The recently completed conceptual designs for South Shore propose enhancements including:
- Increase the total acreage of natural areas across grounds of the South Shore Cultural Center
- Re-shape, not remove, the current natural area. Dunes would be preserved, and this natural area could stretch further south into the current 7th hole.
- Create a new natural area in a safer and more prominent position in the park directly northeast of the South Shore Cultural Center building.
- Add a new water feature by reaching the Lake Michigan water table. The pond within the current natural area is filled by hose with tap water.
- Create new trail ways and access to natural areas, including a pedestrian entrance at the northern edge of the park near the corner of 67th & South Shore Drive
- Expand landing areas for migratory birds across the grounds of the park
- Add a new beach house with improved lockers, washrooms and food/beverage offerings
- The proposed 15th hole could also compliment the natural area with new fertile soil and native grasses at the shoreline. Currently, crumbling rocks and foreign objects line the water’s edge, including materials remnant from the shooting range during South Shore’s country club era. New trail ways could better connect golfers and non-golfers to a beautified lakefront for all to enjoy.
Won’t a new golf course have a detrimental impact on the environment?
The Chicago Park District’s Department of Cultural and Natural Resources is participating in golf design discussions to ensure ecological guidelines are upheld in construction and operations of any proposed golf course improvements. Modern golf courses are getting better each year at water conservation and using only chemicals that don’t harm the environment. With modern trappings, the environmental standards will only become better. Golf courses are refuges for birds and wildlife, and bastions for natural grasses and flowers.
What’s in it for you guys?
We are doing this because we love golf and we want to see the game continue to thrive. Our goal is to create a better golf facility that brings more kids to golf. That is why we are partnering with The First Tee of Greater Chicago, the Western Golf Association, and the Chicago District Golf Association. The First Tee already serves over 250 kids at Jackson Park and South Shore. With improved facilities, we know that it can be many more. The WGA already began a new subsidized caddy program in Summer 2017 at Jackson Park, which will employ local youth and offer caddies at no additional cost to golfers.
Who is the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance?
We are a diverse group of community and golf industry representatives who want to re-imagine what Chicago Park District golf can be. We believe these golf courses are community gems, but they could use some TLC. Beyond that, we want the golf courses to be safe harbors for kids, places for golfers of all ages to enjoy the game more, as well as being stewards of the environment. Please visit here to see our Board of Directors: https://chicagoparksgolfalliance.org/about/who-we-are/
Will there still be golf carts at the course?
Yes. Walking will be encouraged to support the caddie program and for exercise. However, golf carts are vital for many to continue enjoying the game, as well as a matter of preference to others. While the Conceptual Design routing presented within the South Lakefront Framework presentations does not show cart paths, future design phases will study circulations patterns for the most efficient routes around the holes for golfers and all users of the parks.
Would hosting tournaments limit my access to the golf course?
Tournaments are a significant component in the heritage and current play at both Jackson Park and South Shore. Jackson Park has hosted the Chicago City Amateur Championship for more than 110 years, earning prestige as the longest running municipal event of its kind. South Shore hosts a yearly competition for Special Olympics golfers. Numerous other Women’s and Men’s leagues hold competitions at Jackson Park. There was previously higher frequency of CPS and IHSA competitions at Jackson Park, but many high schools (and Junior Golf leagues) have left Jackson Park to play at suburban golf courses. The Chicago Parks Golf Alliance would encourage these groups to resume events in Jackson Park and create a fitting venue for expanded extracurricular activities with CPS.
Tournaments, whether amateur or professional, are an opportunity to showcase Jackson Park and South Shore, while also creating festivities and entertainment for non-golfers. PGA Tour events have the opportunity to spur 7-figure financial impact at the golf course as well as residual economic activity in the neighborhoods during a one week time span. We also offer a reference from Benton Harbor, Michigan, which has hosted the Senior PGA Championship three times since the Harbor Shores Golf Course opened in 2010. Marv Raglon, co-owner of a local barbecue restaurant describes: “You see it as golf with 18 holes and the players. I see it as a happening. It gets the community involved. People that aren’t golfers immerse themselves. The more things we can bring that interest a whole range of people, the more appreciative they will be of golf.” The Chicago Parks Golf Alliance pledges to pursue a variety of new events for all to enjoy at the golf course, while also balancing the access for current usage.