The ambitious $30 million renovation of two public golf course facilities on Chicago’s South Side is designed to attract a major tournament to the city while also creating a new attraction for growing the game through youth and public participation. As part of the effort, a new nonprofit Chicago Parks Golf Alliance fundraising organization is being formed.
Tiger Woods has committed to be the lead designer of the project to renovate the Jackson Park/South Shore golf courses on Chicago’s south side, the Chicago Tribune reported.
C&RB has had a series of reports this year on the plan to revive the public courses and attract a major golf tournament to Chicago:
In a statement released by his design firm, TGR Design, to confirm his commitment, Woods said: “This project can create incredible possibilities for the community on the South Side. We want to design a course that everyone will enjoy.”
The Tribune also reported that on Sunday, December 18, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will announce the formation of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance (CPGA), a nonprofit charged with improving Chicago Park District courses and golf facilities, expanding youth golf programs and, most significantly, raising money to make the Jackson Park/South Shore project a reality.
Groundbreaking on the $30 million renovation of the Jackson Park/South Shore project is aimed for the spring, the Tribune reported, with hopes to complete the 18-hole championship course, plus either a short course or par-3 course, by 2020.
The Jackson Park course will remain open in 2017 and 2018, the Tribune reported, and the yet-to-be-named championship course will remain public, with discounted tee times for local residents.
“Restoring these historic golf courses will create another economic and recreational asset for the South Side,” Mayor Emanuel said in a statement obtained by the Tribune.
The CPGA will partner with the Western Golf Association (WGA) of the Chicago area in two important ways, the Tribune reported: to promote caddie programs that could yield college scholarships, and to customize the Jackson Park/South Shore property so it would be well-suited to host a tournament such as the 2021 BMW Championship, a FedEx Cup playoff event.
Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill. will host the BMW in 2017. It moves to Aronimink Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia in 2018 and to Medinah (Ill.) Golf Club in 2019, the final year of the current WGA/BMW agreement.
“We’d look forward to having another option in Chicago, a championship-style course that has a tremendous location and views of the city,” said Vince Pellegrino, Senior Vice President of the WGA. Pelligrino envisions using locations like Soldier Field and McCormick Place as places to park cars should the event be held at a city venue like Jackson Park, the Tribune reported.
An initial routing plan for the Jackson Park course that was obtained by the Tribune showed that the No. 1 tee box would be not far from the planned $500 million Barack Obama Presidential Center. Sources said President Obama became personally involved in the Jackson Park/South Shore project when he placed a call to Woods, encouraging him to serve as lead designer, the Tribune reported.
The Jackson Park/South Shore course would stretch to between 7,300 and 7,600 yards, with plans for a tee shot over the Lake Michigan beach just east of the South Shore Cultural Center, the Tribune reported.
“The course will have tremendous shot values, which is obviously very important to Tiger,” said Mark Rolfing, the NBC/Golf Channel analyst who has spearheaded the project and will now lead the CPGA. “This will be his first design that gets tested in competition; what his colleagues and peers think will be important to him.”
Woods has designed six courses, and his latest, Bluejack National outside Houston, was named best new private course of 2016 by Golf Digest. C&RB featured Bluejack National as its January 2016 cover story (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2016/01/27/major-aspirations/).
Woods has thrived as a player in the Chicago area, the Tribune noted, winning two PGA Championships at Medinah (1999, 2006) and the Western Open/BMW Championship five times (1997, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2009).
“I appreciate the support of Chicago-area fans,” Woods said in making his commitment to the project. “They know golf and have been a big part of my victories at both Medinah and Cog Hill. I hope this project will draw more local kids to the game in this fantastic sports town.”