At South Shore and Jackson Park, the Chicago Park District has two adjacent public golf facilities, approximately 7 miles south of Chicago’s Loop. While these courses share joint boundaries across the intersection of 67th & South Shore Drive, they are currently operated separately without any cross way. The 9-hole South Shore Golf Course opened in 1907, situated directly on Lake Michigan. An iconic city building, the South Shore Cultural Center, is located on this Park District property. The South Shore Cultural Center hosted galas dating back to the 1920s. Its more recent history includes the wedding receptions of President and Mrs. Obama, as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife Amy Rule, while also being showcased as the “Palace Hotel Ballroom” in the classic 1980 film Blues Brothers.
Directly northwest of South Shore is the Jackson Park Golf Course. Dating back to 1899, this community favorite was the first public golf course west of the Allegheny Mountains. The 18 hole course weaves within a Fredrick Law Olmsted park, which served as the backdrop for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Two relics of the Exposition remain visible from the course with the Fine Arts Palace (now Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry) to the north, and the “Golden Lady” Statue of the Republic flanking entry to the clubhouse. By the 1920s, Jackson Park became home groundbreaking African American golf leagues, many which remain active on site today. During 2018, Jackson Park has hosted the Chicago City Amateur Golf Championship for the 114th year, making it the oldest municipal tournament of its kind.
The proposed project would enhance existing Park District golf courses to create a newly restored, combined facility. Undoubtedly, the ingredients exist for an incredible golf venue. Given strategic design and proper nurturing, this Chicago site could establish the benchmark for the future of sustainable, urban, public golf.