The 103-year-old golf course in Evanston, Ill. will undergo a restoration plan to preserve and enhance the property. Plans include a renovation to the holes in front of the clubhouse that will serve as a new youth golf facility. The project, which is set to begin in June, will be conducted in phases with some holes remaining open for play until Aug. 1.
Canal Shores Golf Course in Evanston, Ill. will undergo a bold restoration plan to preserve and enhance the 103-year-old golf course. The cornerstone of the robust, privately funded project is an emphasis on youth golf, and includes a renovation to the holes in front of Canal Shores’ clubhouse that will serve as a new youth golf facility, as well as the creation of a caddie academy. The initiative is being led by Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association (EWGCA), Canal Shores Golf Course, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization, and KemperSports.
Affectionately known as Evanston’s local “gem,” Canal Shores’ plans focus on the crucial pillars of youth development, golf, ecology and community, with the goal of setting the property up for a second century of success. Canal Shores has raised more than $4 million of its $5.9 million goal for what is being called the “Canal Shores 2nd Century” campaign.
“We brought in KemperSports because its team shared our vision for Canal Shores – that it could continue to serve not only as a community golf haven, but an example of forward-thinking programming that will provide educational and employment opportunities for underserved youth in this community,” said EWGCA President Matt Rooney. “We couldn’t be more excited to get to work making that vision a reality and creating exciting opportunities for local youth with our new partners.”
The project, which is set to begin in June, will be conducted in phases with some holes remaining open for play until Aug. 1, and the popular “Out of Space” concert series taking place July 27-30 as scheduled. The youth golf improvements, creation of the caddie academy program and course renovations are expected to be complete by summer 2024.
“Canal Shores is truly a one-of-a-kind golf course that has served its local community for more than 100 years, and we want to ensure its future is even more purposeful and impactful,” said KemperSports Executive Vice President Josh Lesnik. “With support from the Western Golf Association, First Tee – Greater Chicago, Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation, Chicago District Golf Association and individual donors, we will be able to improve and enhance the golf course in order to create opportunities for local youth.”
The Western Golf Association (WGA), which administers the Chick Evans Scholarship Fund, is the lead donor on the restoration project. The WGA focuses on the future generations of players while creating life-changing scholarship and youth caddie opportunities on the golf course. A caddie academy program will engage with area golf clubs to ensure caddie employment opportunities are plentiful for graduates of the program while providing a pathway to the prestigious Evans Scholarship.
“Our mission is to send deserving caddies to college on full scholarships, and we want to make Canal Shores a training ground for kids in these communities with the most need to become future caddies and Evans Scholars,” said WGA President and CEO John Kaczkowski. “The Chick Evans Scholarship was started by Chick right around the corner at Northwestern University, which was the first of our 22 partner universities nationwide. We can’t think of a better place to create a training ground for a diverse community of future Scholars and future leaders.”
First Tee – Greater Chicago also supports the project and will run their programming at a newly reimagined practice and teaching facility on the course. First Tee provides a fun, safe and welcoming place for local kids and teens ages seven to 18 of all backgrounds to learn the game along with important life lessons.
“KemperSports is a longtime partner that shares our commitment to creating experiences that build character and empower our city’s youth,” said First Tee – Greater Chicago CEO Lea Jesse. “We’re proud to support a new facility dedicated to youth golf that will not only increase access to important life skills and education, but also afford local kids an array of opportunities that were previously unavailable to them.”
In addition, the EWGCA has hired golf course architect Todd Quitno to oversee the restoration project. Wadsworth Golf Construction Company has been contracted to complete the renovations.
For more information about Canal Shores and details of this important project, visit https://www.canalshores.org/ or follow along on social media using #PreservingtheGem. Those interested in making a contribution are encouraged to visit canalshores.org/donate.
Club + Resort Business reported in May 2022 that the previous ownership group in charge of Canal Shores neglected much of the course’s wildlife, allowing many invasive species to take hold of the course. An ecology master plan completed in 2017 included restoring native wildlife habitats along the course that can provide native species a place to live. The property introduced birdwatching walks to showcase the renewed focus on ecology.
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