This page is to be reconstructed and updated. GMO


Golf in Jackson Park; Chicago Parks Golf Alliance 2016 proposal AND MORE

by Gary Ossewaarde


a subpage of's Jackson Park pages.
(JPAC website-
To Jackson Park home (
Link Index of the Jackson Park pages (
JPAC (Jackson Park Advisory Council) newsletters link index (
JPAC News and Bulletins related subject pages- Obama Presidential Center and Library,
Project 120, Skylanding, GLFER Army Corps ecosystem restoration, 2001 Framework Plan
Letter from Superintendent Kelly July 2017-
A good thumbnail summary and link to original with map on all the projects in DNAinfo.


Special announcements, features

History of golf in Jackson Park and South Shore (from the JP and SSCC Timeline pages, based in part on extensive archival research by Julia Bachrach reflected in the 1999 South Lakefront Framework Plan and other reports and writings.)
See also there the latest (Septmber 2018) historical synopsis by the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance and their recommended list of resources.

Video clip on Harbor Shores/Benton Harbor golf course remake from youth programming and environmental reclamation perspective.

Expected to return in early 2019- watch for Adaptive Golf and for Play for the Parks (July 17?)

Golf Alliance website.
Petition to support redevelopment of the parks. support-chicago-s-jackson- park-restoration-and-obama- presidential-center- development-initiatives

April 29 2019. A wonderful celebration of the Evans golf scholarship winners Tim Arrington and Abdel Raoul and the golf associations and clubs that play in Jackson Park was held in the fieldhouse. Louise McCurry also presented the accomplishment at the Chicago Park District Board annual meeting May 8. And the winners were featured on Windy City Live May 14.

From Brian Hogan, CPGA

Please see below for a recap of last week’s Scholarship Celebration honoring Tim Arrington and Abdel Raoul at Jackson Park Fieldhouse. Sincerest thanks to Louise for her hustle last Monday to prepare the fieldhouse, and again surprise us with acknowledgement before the Park District Commissioners yesterday! From the start, your team has been an inspiration and active resource…arranging school visits, inviting children and their families to speak at PAC meetings, sharing facilities and landscape ideas, hosting tours and info sessions, and COUNTLESS HOURS to support this endeavor.
We appreciate your consideration to share Tim and Abdel’s good news with fellow Advisory Council members, and via any other platforms relevant to circulate info/articles/videos linked below.
Reflecting upon the event, perhaps the only thing cooler than Tim and Abdel’s smiles was the gleam in the eyes of younger attendees upon realizing that hard work in the classroom, volunteerism in the community, and dedication on the golf course could indeed make them future scholarship honorees. Thanks for your support as we strive to make this a repeat occasion many times over!

Chicago’s South Side Golf Scholarship Celebration – Monday April 29, 2019

As reported by Teddy Greenstein for the Chicago Tribune, Marc Meltzer for the Hyde Park Herald, and the African American Golfers Digest community members gathered to honor college scholarship recipients Tim Arrington and Abdel Raoul at the Jackson Park Fieldhouse (6401 S Stony Island Ave). Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly presented Arrington and Raoul with surprise congratulatory letters signed by Tiger Woods. Chicago’s 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston added personal remarks, followed by comments from the scholars and their families.

Video Recap of the Celebration Featuring Remarks by Scholars and their Families:

Notes by Louise McCurry.

5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston: (Introductory remarks) This is a wonderful event it lets you know that our young people are active and involved in the parks; and yes, we do play golf.

(Following presentation of Tiger’s signed letters) Well…I can’t compete with Tiger Woods, but Congratulations to Tim and Abdel. You make the South Side proud. You make the City Proud. You make this Ward proud. I have no doubt that your futures are shiny and bright and the world is your oyster. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, you will achieve. I am confident in that.

Chicago Park District General Superintendent & CEO Mike Kelly – On behalf of the Chicago Park District and our Board of Commissioners, Congratulations. I dreamed about being both of you. I dreamed about being a Division I golfer, but it didn’t work out, and I applied for the Evans Scholarship many years ago, but didn’t get it. What you guys are doing, and what you’re going to do for all of us, makes us all proud.

Abdel Raoul: On Stage: I’ve known Tim since 4th grade. Seeing him here, and seeing everybody that came out to support us. I’m truly honored and blessed and I thank everybody.
Post-Presentation Comments Re Letter from Tiger: Tiger has been my role model on the golf course, and with the greatness he brings, it’s an honor. I’m truly grateful. Nobody told me this would happen, and with everybody showing up, I was absolutely surprised.

Tim Arrington: (On Stage) Ever since I became a caddie, THIS is what it has been for. I am going to use the Evans Scholarship to change the world, since it changed my life, I have to change other people’s lives.
(Post-Presentation) Tonight means the world to me. My mother and I have been struggling a little bit. To have this opportunity with all these people supporting me, and to have Tiger Woods noticing the progress we’ve made: That’s amazing. That’s Aweome.

Michelle Murff-Arrington (Tim’s Mother) Being a single mother, I wanted Tim to be exposed to nature, calm and God’s beautiful creation. Especially living in the inner-city, I wanted him to have an outlet and release mechanism, and what better way to have that than out on the greens.

Phillip Raoul (Abdel’s Father) It’s lots of effort by the children and us to take them to practice and tournaments, but Abdel has done the work, and we’re just there to support him. We are absolutely proud of him. You want your kids to be better than you, and he’s a very good example of that. As parents we go to tournaments, where they compete against other kids who have access to much greater facilities. We are grateful for Jackson Park as it is, but we know moving forward they need access to better facilities to play and compete at a higher level. We hope the Chicago Park District and Chicago Parks Golf Alliance can make Tiger’s vision come true. We have a younger son (Ahmad) coming up. He’s got as much game as this guy (Abdel), but they need the facilities.

Tracy Raoul (Abdel’s Mother) To the City and Park District…I would like to say to continue the effort to bring quality golf programs to this community. There are hundreds of children that can benefit the same way our family has. We need more programs, and we definitely need a great golf course so these children can thrive and do well.

Louise McCurry (Jackson Park Advisory Council President) Thank you, everyone for celebrating Abdel Raoul and Tim Arrington’s full scholarship awards. Thank you for being the positive role models for these young men and the youth in our community. This is just the beginning. It is our mission to inspire more children to scholarships, career success and positive community leadership in the next year.

The golf associations and clubs told what they are doing.

Here is th Hyde Park Heralds's take

[pic] Mike Kelly (right), Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO, poses with Tim Arrington (left), Kenwood Academy High School Senior and recipient of the Evans Scholarship at Marquette University, and Abdel Raoul (center), Mt. Carmel High School Senior and recipient of a full academic and athletic scholarship at Prairie View A&M University, as they hold letters from golfer Tiger Woods congratulating them on their athletic and academic achievements. (Marc Monaghan photo)

Contributing writer

Abdel Raoul, a senior at Mount Carmel High School, and Tim Arrington, a senior at Kenwood Academy, were honored Monday night at the Jackson Park fieldhouse for receiving full four-year college scholarships due to their golfing and academic achievements. A crowd of about 100 people celebrated them.

Arrington is the first student to earn an Evans Scholarship working at Jackson Park since 1993. He plans to attend Marquette University in Milwaukee.

“There is no greater feeling than seeing my mother overjoyed with my success,” he said in a statement. “I’m proud this scholarship eliminates the stress of tuition she wouldn’t be able to afford.”

Raoul is the recipient of an academic and golf scholarship to play as a NCAA Division 1 golfer at Prairie View A&M University, a public, historically Black institution in Prairie View, Texas. He has represented Chicago at a tournament at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course on the California Central Coast.

“The golfing opportunities, hard work, and golf courses I have played, along with the sacrifices from my parents, helped get me to where I am today,” he said.

Tiger Woods sent personalized mementos that were presented to both Arrington and Raoul on Monday.

Besides the four-year scholarship, Raoul got a $1,000 check from Andre Stephens, Sr., great-grandson of Chicago’s African-American golf pioneers Walter and Nettie George Speedy.

“Abdel represents what golf is all about, and is bringing in a new generation of golfers to represent the African American community in the game,” Stephens said. “You are free to use these resources both for your academic pursuits and your game of golf.”

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said Raoul and Arrington make it known “that our young people are active and involved in the parks — and, yes, we do play golf.”

“You make the South Side proud,” Hairston continued. “You make the city proud. You make this ward proud. I have no doubt that your futures are shiny and bright and the world is your oyster. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, you will achieve. I am confident in that.”

Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly congratulated the students on behalf of his organization. “I dreamed about being both of you,” he said. “I dreamed about being a Division I golfer, but it didn’t work out, and I applied for the Evans Scholarship many years ago, but didn’t get it. What you guys are doing, and what you’re going to do for all of us, makes us all proud.”

Raoul said he has known Arrington since fourth grade. “Seeing him here, and seeing everybody that came out to support us, I’m truly honored and blessed and I thank everybody.”

“Tiger has been my role model on the golf course, and with the greatness he brings, it’s an honor,” he continued. “I’m truly grateful. Nobody told me this would happen, and with everybody showing up, I was absolutely surprised.”

Arrington said, “Ever since I became a caddie, this is what it has been for. I am going to use the Evans Scholarship to change the world, since it changed my life, I have to change other people’s lives.”

Arrington said the occasion means the world to him: “My mother and I have been struggling a little bit. To have this opportunity with all these people supporting me — and to have Tiger Woods noticing the progress we’ve made —That’s amazing. That’s awesome.”


Inflated statements are being put out about golf courses being fatal to the future of monarch butterflies and related species. Here are some thoughts and links.

In the current golf courses, We have several previously planted mini butterfly gardens around the Jackson Course. (Special thanks to Adam Schwerner), and have planted friendly milkweed etc. in Bobolink, Wooded Island and at La Rabida. Perhaps more should be planted. Milkweed and Monarchs do well in Jackson Park and are common in the Bobolink-Golf driving range area. Monarchs are in the park including the golf course. They are best seen between 12 and 2 pm in the afternoon in the many golf course natural and flowering areas. Plans for golf course rehabiltation include expansion of natural area. The Park District is said to currently not allow herbicides and pesticides. This needs to be confirmed for a revitalized golf course.

Here are some articles giving a positive perspective:

For quickest reference, please see this previous posting which blends Jackson Park specific ideas from Jerry Levy and nearby testimonial from Jeff Noel at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, which has been recognized with multiple awards for golf and ecology.

Jerry Levy:

“There are many plants that are native to the area that you don’t see on the golf course. It would be fantastic to see some of them around the tees, areas in the rough, behind the greens. It would be terrific for attracting birds. The way it is now, it clearly is not attracting many birds. I think the birders would be thrilled to see it restored.”
“When you think about the ecology of the golf course to attract those birds and insects, it all starts with putting in the right type of plants. That’s something we can do with the restoration.”

Jeff Noel:

“For every golfer we get, we probably get two or three people using the amenities who never golf. The course has had a big impact on our community…You can have a similar situation in Chicago. When you restore a golf course and then maintain it, the environment will thrive.”

March-April 2019. The caddie class of 12 is in full swing. The team members and our other Jackson Park caddies testify about the personal and professionalism skills and personal relations they add to their sports skills.
CONGRATULATIONS. Tim Arlington and Abdul Raoul, Jackson Park teen golfers and caddies, have won Western Golf Association Chick Evans 4-year full freight college scholarships. Timotheus, the most recent winner, is a Kenwood Academy senior who will attend UI Urbana with hopes of becoming a pediatrician. In the announcement sent by Brian Hogan of Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, Tim “has excelled in AP Science classes, volunteered with STEM and Robotics programs for junior high students, and traveled nationally with the Chicago Children’s Choir. His charisma provided exemplary leadership for the younger caddies, and his Evans Scholarship application essay poignantly thanked his single-mother for inspiring his college dreams.”
Hogan also informs that Jackson Park Golf Association will be planning a season kick-off event (April/May date TBA*) to celebrate scholarships for both Tim and Abdel Raoul, a First Tee of Greater Chicago Participant and 3 x Chicago Park District Boys Junior Golf Champion, who will be playing Division I college golf for Prairie View A&M after graduating from Mt. Carmel in May. Hogan gives special thanks to John Kaczkowski, Tim Orbon and all of the Western Golf Association team and adds, “We look forward to the third season of the Jackson Park Caddie Program, and encourage all to join for a round with the fantastic young women and men working at the golf course this summer. “ By the way. Over a century ago.... in 1912 180,000 rounds of golf were reported played on the two Jackson Park course, according to a post by the Society of Golf Historians 3/22/19.
(The celebration for the scholarship winners and kickoff of the 2019 golf season will be held on April 29, 5:30-7 at the Jackson Park Golf Clubhouse. Reservations only- reserve with Craig Bowen of Chicago Parks Golf Alliance
Read in the Calendar about the April 28 debate on the future of the golf course.

Drive-Chip-Putt. Louise McCurry writes March 31 2018: I have just discovered a a way to get kids and South Side Families excited about Golf. The web site is
Tomorrow at 8 am you can see the kids FREE "Drive Chip Putt" Finals for kids around the Country. They compete in local contests first. It is exactly like the Soccer MLS sponsored Dribble Pass Shoot contests our AYSO ran for kids from 95-2010. It requires about $500 for the initial flags, signs, and snacks. And you need a few golfers to measure and score the shots. College golfers from Chicago State and U of C would be awesome. ( they could get community service credit) . Note:1/3 of all kids who participated went on to play and get scholarships for college golf.
I would like to run one in 2019 for Jackson Park Course. We would include all kids- disabled, boys, girls, any ethnicity. There are no sites at all in Chicago. So we could be the role model for other courses. If you look at the web site , you see they made wonderful cell phone videos showing happy kids playing Drive,Chip, Putt. We could single handedly change the ethnicity of the nationals in Augusta next year. Kids and parents would have fun . First Tee and HS and College teams could talk to kids about joining them. We could inaugurate our Family Golf area with Drive Chip Putt. And we would get all kind of kids out in our green space. We can invite our Naysayers to help and let them experience the positives of watching our south side kids I have fun playing golf . Take a look!

Meetings and Updates January, February, March 2018 and beyond

April 28 2019, Sunday, 11:45 pm (date revised). First Unitarian Church hosts forum presenting the cases FOR and AGAINST creating a pro golf course in Jackson and South Shore Parks.
First Unitarian Church, 5650 S. Woodlawn Ave., Al Debonnet, Chair of the Jackson Park Golf and Community Leadership Alliance, will present the case FOR the pro golf course. Anne Holcomb, Chair of ETHOS (Environment, Transportation, Health and Open Space) will present the case AGAINST the pro golf course. After a 15 minute presentation by each side, each presenter will be able to ask three questions regarding the other’s presentation. After that the forum will be opened to audience questions.
Several groups and organizations including JPAC will have tables and ask and answer questions.

December 12 2018 the CPD board will entertain extending the contact of Smith Group JJR for detailed evaluation and assessment of the Golf proposal including bid and design documents, as well as "implimentation of the South Lakefront Plan". DONE. According to the CPGA, "providing further context related to the golf course, this next phase of engineering will enable TGR Design to advance from the current conceptual design to detailed designs for construction bid. Likewise, the next level of engineering expertise will examine project timelines.
It is sadi that the family golf center and small course will be planned and done first.

May 31 2018 City Council approved a set of ordiances for the Obama Center that included approval of the South Lakefront Plan and the golf consolidation/plan as well as the CDOT plans that include closing of Marquette Dr. and the underpasses needed inter alia for the golf changes.
The new state budget passed May 30 and 31 included $172M for the infrastructure changes including those cited above.

South Lakefront Plan
March 21, March 30 2018. PARK PROPOSALS UPDATE
The main outlines of proposals for the Obama Presidential Center (OBC), roadways, as well as for a revised South Lakefront Plan seem to pretty well set in the general form they are expected to be reviewed by the Chicago Plan Commission (in themselves and under the light of the Lake Michigan and Lakefront Protection Ordinance) in April. But changes could be inaugurated then. (Golf itself is not in that process or as yet under Section 106 federal review). Further changes could come the Section 106 reviews continue through at least late in the year. Meanwhile, all these processes continue to accept public input (for the Lakefront Plan through at least March 28) as well as engineering tweaks. A meeting for Section 106 on March 29 is announced above. We encourage all to go the various sites (see front page) and take a good look and give your views on both the general questions and on specifics.
April 11 2018 the South Lakefront Plan was presented to the CPD Board of Directors. Public comments were mostly favorable with caveats that funding for very little has yet been identified outside OPC and the track (baseball field replacement will be done). Most comments were on the golf proposal- some very strong pro and con, and the SPAC supporting but wanting a conversation on course alignment and the nature sanctuary. Approval of the plan is for later as federal and local review of major projects are still in progress.

Golf. At its February meeting, JPAC voted to encourage continued planning for a consolidation and that we would continue to evaluate. We have expressed expectations and concerns with regard to access by the general golfing and non-golfing public in a public golf course, safety, training and opportunities for youth, preservation and enhancement of nature and environment. At a meeting held under the South Lakefront Plan umbrella January 31, certain changes were offered including1. Reorientation of many of the fairways, especially south of Marquette to improve safety and circulation; 2. Movement of the clubhouse to NE of Jeffery and Marquette to avoid congestion near Cornell/Hayes and make 9-hole play more feasible, 3. Expansion of naturalized landscape spaces. Other matters remain in discussion or examination including the Nature Sanctuary at South Shore Cultural Center and golf and public trail configuration there.
Other matters remain in discussion or examination including the Nature Sanctuary at South Shore Cultural Center and golf and public trail configuration there. We understand there is not likely to be significant change in upcoming months. PD managers say it is still just a concept - when/if it is a go, then review processes may well kick in. Conversations facilitated by the Aldermen's office including with South Shore PAC golf committee are still in progress regarding possible revisions for the nature areas and safety. A joint golf committee for SS and Jackson said it believes consolidated golf can coexist with the nature sanctuary and new nature areas and expressed satisfaction with proposals for the golf driving range that will protect and increase Bobolink Meadow.

South Lakefront Plan. March 21, 2018. The consolidated version was rolled out March 13 and 14 with presentation and boards at the South Shore Cultural Center. A chief aim of the plan is to update the 1999 plan in support of the Obama Center (and golf consolidation) by showing these two interacting with the whole park, and is in turn the stated reason why federal review is required as well as to show the Plan Commission how the proposals fit into a whole park. (No changes for OPC or golf or the roads beyond what was shown in January are in the draft.) The other purpose of the revised SLP is to garner public and stakeholder input and conduct an engineering and design process for the next decade or so of the park. Many have taken advantage of the planning to stress their specific ideas, priorities or vision, or support or opposition to the OPC, golf or road proposals, and to consider various specific changes for elsewhere in the park-- which ones would benefit the park and its users while keeping true to legacy, or not.
In the presentation on March 13, SmithGroup/JJR landscape architect Gregg Calpino said the key is “striking a balance” for the park between the perspectives of the highly varied park user, stakeholder, appreciator groups- community members, as well as design experts and park district staff. “This is a vision, not to be achieved in a day or a year. It’s a guide, an ongoing effort. Some plans will continue to evolve.” The key goals are to 5
serve communities and visitors, steward environmental integrity, and “renew and maintain park legacy.” Highly important, he said is keeping and enhancing the park’s unstructured, multi-purpose spaces. Playing fields will clustered along Hayes Drive, especially between the inner harbor and the lagoon, many shared.
Also, the park’s water-based history and character will be enhanced, including both water activity and water quality/management (reversing the practice of using the lagoons and harbors as a wastewater dump).
Cumulatively there are many changes, but in the non-project parts of the park not wholesale.
New things include The new field and track (coming first), historic structure restoration, new fieldhouse, a dog park at convenient access and parking, more picnic areas including on expanded and protective naturalized lakeshore with new amenities, harbor improvements, new fields for today’s sports and a multiuse field south of an updated golf driving range, more Bobolink Meadow, reconstruction of a lost part of Olmsted’s lagoon connections, more washrooms, more efficient (and, yes more) parking, fixing and modernizing the mixed trails and walks, nature walks, and a children’s spray pool. (There will be no concert venue or pavilion ther than what might be part of the OPC.) Funding for this except the Track and Field is not included!

Done, 2018. JANUARY 31, WEDNESDAY, 6 PM AT SOUTH SHORE CULTURAL CTR. GOLF PLAN CHANGES AND OPTIONS. Convened by the Park District as part of thee South Lakefront Plan series. The Golf Alliance says it has listened, and will continue to listen-. Explanations and chance to comment on the South Lakefront Plan- (Current Framework Plan can be located in CPD website under assets.) Visit
See also thorough report in February 7 Hyde Park Herald- from
South Lakefront Plan held presentation and opportunity to discuss with designers and various agency staffers an updated and more fleshed layout for the golf course. Highlights include conversion of Marquette Dr. into a bike and pedestrian trail with stands of trees along it saved, moving the clubhouse a central location near Richards Drive, better ability to accommodate 9-hole as well as 18-hole golf (plus a small family course), more although dispersed natural habitat areas. Not changed (and points of contention) were plans to use part of the South Shore nature area, and no decision was indicated on moving or altering the driving range.

February 14 Parks Sup. Kelly was given permission to negotiate with the city over land transfer (8 for 6 acres) for highway changes in connection with the Center and the golf course.
February 24 the city announced the estimated cost of its conceptual road changes, which it wanted to have underway by early 2019.

February 14 2018 the Park District Board of Commissioners approved Supt. Kelly negotiating mutual transfer of c. 6 acres to the city and reception of 8 acres from the city for conversion of parkland to widened roadways and roadway to parkland in conjunction with the OPC and golf reconstruction respectively. This would be a net park gain of about 2 acres, partially answering one question about quid pro quos. Cost was said by Kelly to be $160 million [later by Mayor Emanuel upped to 175M, not including a 2nd underpass on Hayes not then yet decided). The transfers once negotiated and signed be effective regardless of whether the two projects pass reviews and approvals and whether road construction/destruction are actually done. Net loss of parking would be about 236 spaces. the roads and exchanges involved, according to February 16 2018 Sun-Times, are to the city for widening roadways:
Lands west of Lake Shore Drive from 57th to Hayes
Lands east of Stony Island from westbound Midway Plaisance to 67th.
Lands south of westbound Midway Plaisance from Stony Island to Cornell
Certain lands at the Hayes-Richards intersection (Golden Lady), Hayes-Lake Shore Drive intersection, and Hayes Cornell intersection.
To the park district:
Cornell Drive from approximately 62nd Street south to Hayes Drive, Marquette Drive Stony Island Avenue to Richards Drive and the northbound lanes of Cornell Drive from approximately 67th Street to approximately 64th Street.
Additionally, portions of existing roadway will be converted to parkland in the area of Hayes-Richards and Hayes-63rd-Cornell intersections.
Note that this does not include the portions of Cornell and eastbound Midway Plaisance east of Stony Island that are in the land already to be leased and transferred to the Obama Foundation and would presumably be a matter of cost negotiation between the city and the OPC.
c February 23 Mayor Emanuel and CDOT released an estimate of total costs for all the roadwork for Jackson Park and the Cultural Center- $175 million (which could go higher if Hayes Drive is given a second underpass) and also traffic and related studies. The studies results are likely to be challenged, and the environmental and historical impacts Section 106 study is still quite a ways from completion. The changes are likely to be incorporated in the next consolidated South Lakefront Plan draft.
Hyde Park Historical Society's letter to Section 196 prefers a narrowing of Cornell Drive at the Center to one lane in each direction, returning that part of the park to, in their view, to Olmsted's original design of a carriage path. Jackson Park Watch has issued diverging statements, one opposing reductions (and allowing parking) from 57th to 59th and another supporting the Historical Society position. Other groups strongly support the changes citing inter alia safety and connectivity including for bicyclists and pedestrians in the park and control of water runoff throughout the park. Not addressed in plans and discussions is perhaps a majority of paths and trails throughout the park that are in deteriorated condition.
Feb. 27 Governor Rauner supported (without giving numbers) Emanuel's viewpoint that the state should provide a major portion of the funding. The Democratic state legislative leaders are also on board.

February 13 JPAC resolution. From the March 2018 JPAC Newsletter
Old Business. Golf discussion. JPAC member Al DeBonnett proposed a resolution regarding the Chicago Park District's proceeding with restoration of the Jackson Park Golf Course after Margaret Schmidt asked for clarification of JPAC's position on support for Jackson Park Golf Course restoration a number of times during the meeting. A quorum of members entitled to vote was present. Requirement of notice was then stated by Margaret Schmidt. Al DeBonnett moved to waive notice for vote on the proposal, in order to tender a vote during the February 13, 2018 meeting, The motion for waiver of notice was seconded. With limited 2 discussion a vote was then taken, whereby a majority of JPAC members present voted in favor of waiving notice.
JPAC member Al DeBonnett then moved for JPAC members present to take a vote on the resolution. The motion was seconded and discussion proceeded. Norm Bell, Jerry Levy, Margaret Schmidt and Al DeBonnett were recognized during the discussion period and all other members had ample opportunity to discuss the motion.
After the discussion period concluded, the motion was stated and a vote was taken, whereby 12, a majority of qualified JPAC members present, voted in favor of the resolution, with the exception of 2 votes against said motion and two stated abstentions.
“JPAC supports the process for reconstruction, upgrade and consolidation of the JP and SSCC golf courses and proposed infrastructure changes indicated for the projects and desired for the community and will continue to evaluate any proposals for the golf course and make a final determination after discussions with the proposing parties and a plan is firmed up.”


February 14 2018 the Park District Board of Commissioners approved Supt. Kelly negotiating mutual transfer of c. 6 acres to the city and reception of 8 acres from the city for conversion of parkland to widened roadways and roadway to parkland in conjunction with the OPC and golf reconstruction respectively. This would be a net park gain of about 2 acres, partially answering one question about quid pro quos. Cost was said by Kelly to be $160 million. The transfers once negotiated and signed be effective regardless of whether the two projects pass reviews and approvals and whether road construction/destruction are actually done. the roads and exchanges involved, according to February 16 2018 Sun-Times, are to the city for widening roadways:
Lands west of Lake Shore Drive from 57th to Hayes
Lands east of Stony Island from westbound Midway Plaisance to 67th.
Lands south of westbound Midway Plaisance from Stony Island to Cornell
Certain lands at the Hayes-Richards intersection (Golden Lady), Hayes-Lake Shore Drive intersection, and Hayes Cornell intersection.
To the park district:
Cornell Drive from approximately 62nd Street south to Hayes Drive, Marquette Drive Stony Island Avenue to Richards Drive and the northbound lanes of Cornell Drive from approximately 67th Street to approximately 64th Street.
Additionally, portions of existing roadway will be converted to parkland in the area of Hayes-Richards and Hayes-63rd-Cornell intersections.
Note that this does not include the portions of Cornell and eastbound Midway Plaisance east of Stony Island that are in the land already to be leased and transferred to the Obama Foundation and would presumably be a matter of cost negotiation between the city and the OPC.

Supt. Kelly reiterated that the golf proposal is not part of the Chicago Plan Commission review and vote for April 2018.

One question regarding road and field changes needed for both golf and OPC has been the provision, location, and logistics of a replacement artificial turf track and field. February 27 the Obama Foundation announced it will give $3.5 million for the new track and field, expected to be located in the 6200 block of Stony Island, with details to be yet decided.

GOLF PLAN. So what's new/the same in the January 31 iteration of the golf plan (introduced for public input as part of the South Lakefront Plan process- in charge for CPD is Nichole Sheehan, reporting to Heather Gleason, and Valerie Bernstene of SmithGroup/JJR)?

For South Shore, plan remains to replace about a third or more of the nature sanctuary (east edge spit) with a hole with a view downtown but add as much or more other smaller nature area(s) accessed by a lakefront trail style path and making a viewing area between the beach and the remaining nature area space. Nature trail and golf path are separated. There is more attention to drainage, including a pond. The horse paddock is lost. The future of the stables is uncertain- there is commitment to restore but for what uses remains unclear.

The underpasses remain critical to feasibility.

Here is an update from the January 2018 JPAC Newsletter. By Gary Ossewaarde:

See summary of state in July 2017 from JPAC July 2017 Newsletter
JPAC Golf Proposal Committee July 17 meeting report and resolution /press release pdf.
(in text here)

Update from the January 2018 JPAC Newsletter. By Gary Ossewaarde

December 2017 both Park District Superintendent Michael Kelly (as reported by Fran Spielman in the Sun-Times) and Brian Hogan of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance (CPGA) (in a communication to JPAC) said they are committed to publishing and rolling out in the first quarter of 2018 a design plan with layout for golf consolidation for public meetings and discussion. Hogan said that the principals remain committed to the professional standard golf consolidation. Kelly said that even though the community support and funding are not yet developed, he looks forward to developing them and showing benefits and the need for improvements to the golf facilities and also to infrastructure for safe mobility and connectivity–admittedly expensive but needed, he said, regardless of golf consolidation.: “…If not now, when?” This writer has observed strong community constituencies both for and against the consolidation, yet many questions and concerns beyond layout need to be answered. A major sticking point has been whether and what changes or relocations would be made to an important and popular nature sanctuary in at South Shore Cultural Center. No decisions on that have been revealed as of present. South Shore Cultural Center PAC after careful consensus building adopted a resolution supporting the golf proposal but stipulating conditions including improvements desired for the entire South Shore Cultural Center footprint and for each part (especially capital and programming), stressing that golf and the nature center should remain in their footprints, and that those proposing changes should demonstrate why.

Meanwhile Jackson Park Golf Association shares a new short video about its collaborative youth program-- JPAC would like to help create more experiences , teams, et al in golf and other sports (as it did with the caddy program and is currently done in soccer) for both elementary and high school students.

Press Release and Meeting Report, Jackson Park Advisory Council Golf Committee July 17 2017

The JPAC Golf Committee for Review of the Golf Proposal held its third meeting July 17, 2017 at Jackson Park Field House. The committee is composed of representatives from JPAC, including Chairman Jerry Levy, and South Shore Cultural Center PAC, the chair of Alderman Hairston’s Golf and Coordinating Council, the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, and golf clubs, with staff from Chicago Department of Transportation, and Chicago Park District staff and stakeholder observers present.

The committee met to consider the proposals after the recent four initial public presentations and comment- gathering on proposed projects for Jackson Park and the start of park framework planning, availability of new information, and to hear from deliberations of the Alderman’s Council the preceding week that included stakeholders such as Friends of the Parks.

Latest thoughts and some changes by the proposers and government representatives were given and discussed in detail. The members queried in detail and expressed concerns about a number of design features and issues of concern to the community and our organizations members, including commitment to non-disturbance of natural areas in Jackson Park. They also asked for additional accommodations for the public, youth, safety, and aesthetics, and a clear statement of measurable economic benefits to communities expected. The committee said in unison that we expected to see changes in the next version.

The Golf Alliance and Park District restated their commitment that the golf course will remain a public and people’s facility, usable by the general public, general golfers, and the local golf associations—a commitment also made to the Alderman and her council. We received assurances on some matters, assurance of some flexibility and that each feature of the park whether natural area, recreation, or open area will be treated with the respect it deserves, including needs study for each recreation type. While not all studies such as traffic are complete or completely evaluated, CDOT said it is confident road changes it proposes are workable—and they reported new progress in public body approvals for historically restoring the Darrow Bridge, which is owned by the state.

The public comments—a large volume-- is being taken and studied very seriously and used in preparing the next iteration, and will be answered promptly by the Park District Team. Also, they appear to be trying to incorporate the public’s ideas and thoughts into the projects and the framework plan. The planning process is deliberate and will not be rushed despite the natural desire of all to see results. There will be some changes in the next iteration. At the same time, a first-draft plan of the whole park and options will be prepared, with public input meetings called on the same in the next few weeks or months. The public comments already given and continuing and answers to them will be published both in totality and also in summary by subjects starting in about a week on Comments can continue to be posted on

Chairman Jerry Levy summed up and asked that in light of what we heard and further changes being made, we hold off on final determination but renew the conditional resolution approved at the committee’s January meeting—Based on what is now known, the members are of the opinion that the new course would be a great asset for Jackson Park and the Hyde Park, South Shore, and Woodlawn communities and would bring prestige, status, and new economic benefits to the community. Agreed by all the members of the committee.

Jerry Levy, chairman. Gary Ossewaarde, Secretary

From the Jackson Park Advisory Council JPAC Newsletter July 2017 (June minutes and page 5)

Golf and park coordinating committees. Jerry Levy, chair, said the committees will meet again after the public meetings presenting the engineering and design reports and proposed golf layouts. Alderman Hairston’s golf and park advisory council toured the parks last Thursday. The Alderman spoke of infrastructure and shoreline needs for park and community that should in any case be addressed. CPD Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly assured that the parks are being evaluated in their entirety, potential plans being coordinated, and public input process being set up leading to comprehensive park plans. He emphasized that the Obama and golf proposals are turning points in really discussing, looking at these parks. Committee members gave feedback.

Meetings started on JP Framework Plan, Obama Center, Golf Course, roads and infrastructure
[This commentary reflects views of its author, Gary Ossewaarde, and not necessarily the Advisory Council]

WHERE TO READ MORE, POST COMMENTS OR TAKE SURVEYS., www. See also Friends of the Parks list of media reports and opinion- from

About 600 attended the first of this first set of public meetings at South Shore Cultural Center, 150-200 at that at Hyde Park High School, and a large crowd was turned away from the small venue (75 seats) for the 5th Ward meeting June 27. The meetings started with 15 minute presentations on each of the four subjects by the Park District, Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, Obama Foundation, and Chicago Department of Transportation, with Smith Group/JJR engineering giving parts of the presentation and moderating. These gave background, vision and objectives, general plans, ways the park would change under each, and timelines. Renderings were either preliminary and conceptual or else mostly large scale rather than detailed. The Obama Center, being the smallest site and somewhat further along in design gave the best sense of the envisioned spaces and programming. Engineering studies are just coming in for golf and for roads and circulation along with the first Tiger Woods firm layout proposal for the golf course. It was evident that coordination has just started, in part because major decisions such as on roadway closures or remakes and who would fund underpasses and shoreline work have not yet been made. In addition, the main projects have expanded although they affirmed each is within its acreage footprints and every displaced feature will have 1 for 1 replacement (although for sports there will be a demand study, with some space possibly being outside this park –it is asserted there is not room enough for both all existing and all new things.) (Also, the Park District is mapping, assessing the state of, and costing every feature in the park.) There seemed to be different timelines, with the Obama Center to go before the Chicago Plan Commission as early as November. The golf planning is ongoing and driven by funds raised and desire for a tournament in 2021. The Framework Plan revision is supposed to put out for comment and meetings later in the summer, with process to be wrapped up by the end of the year—perhaps after major projects have received approval and possibly not giving enough time to be well thought out and as reflective as possible of community consensus and felt park needs. Nor has it been shown that much thought has been given yet to what features and activities should be in Jackson and what in other nearby parks.

The presentations were followed at the first two by breakouts with a mostly-digital survey interspersed with periods for comments and questions. Few questions were answered except where there was felt to be a clear misunderstanding, in part because they said a deliberate decision was made to listen before preparing working versions, and in part because there is as yet insufficient information or no decisions. There were comments and strong opinions pro and con on plans in part or in whole.
So, beyond those or informational matters, and assuming the major projects move forward…
What were some of the flashpoints that need to be given persuasive justification or addressed?

--The road closures, especially Cornell between 59th and 63rd Hayes and Midway EB Stony to Cornell and whether shifting to LSD and Hayes will make new problems and what might ameliorate that
--Sports field replacement /placement/how many (new track and field was shown south of the Obama Center)
--Fieldhouse future and site
--How much outdoor programming at the Center and its impact west and to nature areas as well as its incorporation of the present Perennial Garden site--Golf – can it truly stay affordable and serve the spectrum of users including local and stay sustainable and how much the site can be accessed by the general public
--Decision not to move the Driving Range but expand it at cost to tennis courts and dog friendly area and and need for a guarantee not to diminish or impact Bobolink nature area; golf facility encroachment on courts etc on the west side
--Making the golf perimeter and fencing better and more inviting but not putting off communities
--Golf - amount of tree turnover and guarantee of biodiversity and environmental responsibility and gain.
--By far the major issue for South Shore was moving/reconfiguration and full replacement of the nature area.
--Impacts in the neighborhoods

JPAC’s golf committee and the Alderman’s council will assess studies and drawings now in hand.

July 2017. Note, not in the above. JPAC's board is increasingly concerned about proposed general expansion of the golf footprint and dominance in the park, squeezing much existing out, and the decision to keep in place and expand the golf driving range. Problems include--
- potential threat to Bobolink Meadow (permanent or during construction).
- loss the informal dog park and tennis courts to the northeast with no more than a vague commitment by pd to evaluate and consider 1:1 replacement (where, when?)
- opportunity loss- to realize Olmsted's plan for a great lawn and walking connection of the park along the wet side of the Drive, via open lands.
We are also concerned with golf proposal in our sister park South Shore to change the nature area, with ceding of prime lakeshore and its downtown and other views to golfers.

JPAC will be pressing address of these matters with the Golf Alliance, Park District and at the Alderman's Council and JPAC's golf committee.

Updates from the June 21 2017 public meeting. The meeting featured presentations by Golf, Obama Center, and Chicago Department of Transportation while briefly introducing the start of general framework planning for the two parks. Breakouts followed where people voted on survey items about the whole park and after tabulation of each question were able to give comments and concerns about the three presentations or anything in the parks. Also, more is coming from stakeholder meetings with the Park District as wel as the two remaining round 1 "listening" meetings. Goal is to do the input gathering and continue to plan and cost and complete infrastructure studies (including by CDOT and SmithGroup/JJR), then submit a draft for comment and input and be able to present to the Chicago Plan Commission in November or. For the broader picture, visit

The presentation by Beau Welling, consultant to TGR design (Tiger Woods firm) was unable to go into full detail of the layout and plan he walked through-- many of these details were given to the press, especially at a closed session earlier. Key points from a fine article by Mitchell Armentrout and Maudlyne Ihejirika in June 22 Chicago Sun-Times:
-Total cost and who pays for what will have to be seen, especially for infrastructure work--CDOT separately said it is still costing out.
-This is a parkland style course according to Welling, that serves from families to professionals and "sets out to preserve the historic nature of the two parks. It creates an 18-hole course from the present 18 plus 9. It uses 13 of the present Jackson holes and 5 of the South Shore. Total on the main course is 7,354 yards, and the course is in the current footprint. (Ed.- the Driving Range may be expanded.)
-It preserves much landscape- as cited by the Sun-Times, mature trees will be preserved throughout to frame many of the holes using single cut of rough blending int native grasses and recreating a prairie-savanna feel. The exact number of trees is not yet decided, but numbers and locations will be shared soon (per queries at another meeting).
-The 11th hole does lead to the shore in South Shore
(near the present 6th green) but (vs. what is inaccurate, said by a resident) does (per personal communications) shrink but not eliminate the nature area, with replacement provided in Jackson by LaRabida Hospital.(Present site has had hydrologic and subsoil problems.) Golfers will use a dedicated trail and go around the beach to reach the next hole.
Site lines from the 12th green in Jackson go to the Museum of Science and Industry and a view of downtown. The Tiger Woods release says "The unique heritage of Jackson Park along with the historic nature of the two existing courses have inspired a design.
-A new 6-hole family (and beginners/practicers) short course of 60-85 yard holes will be built by the Partee Golf Clubhouse (current 18th fairway), with the Clubhouse as its headquarters and education and youth programs center. (The new main clubhouse will be built near 63rd and Cornell se corner (no more golf hq at South Shore)- whether the new clubhouse that will require removal of tennis courts at 63rd/Cornell was not clear. Re the family course and youth programs, Brian Hogan of CPGA was quoted, "Over the past several months, what we have heard from community input is the need for affordability, access and doing more for kids, and one of the repeated themes we heard from the community was the ability to have some indoor practice spaces to be able to enjoy the game of golf year around." (Ed. It was not clear what would be year round, but Beau Welling also said that in his presentation.)

Noted by this writer, GMO: In his presentation, Beau Welling gave the history as well as historic context of the sites, constraints of the site, the need to be affordable and accessible, and for youth programs and a family course. The lays will be longer (but some short) and all wider- as golfers have asked. Marquette Road has to go, Stony to Richards. Two underpasses are needed, 67th South Shore and Jeffery Blvd. The driving range is to fixed, lengthened and widened (presumably the fence replaced-- whether the tennis/pickleball and informal dog friendly area will be removed was left unsaid.) Not said is whether the stables at South Shore will be removed or repurposed as golf course service buildings.
Welling said they are committed to enhancing the biodiversity including of trees. Increasing the general connectivity for those using the park was also given as important.

In the breakouts, a number of questions and concerns were given and not all details were yet clear.

Golf update from Brian Hogan of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance April 17, 2017 and June 16 2017.
(As to Jackson Park Advisory Council April 2017.) “We remain confident of our ability to raise $30 Million of philanthropic contributions. Pending the civil engineering studies and detailed construction estimates, we target $20M to golf course improvements, $5M for programming and operations, $5M for endowment to support maintenance and preferred pricing for local residents. Currently, we have collected preliminary donations to cover design services and short term operations. ..[I}n deference to the community review process, we have yet to collect funds related to construction costs until we can share design proposals and project timelines with our donors. Michael Ruemmler stated this to the Sun-times: ‘We’ve got a lot of people [who] are ready to go as soon as they can see some designs and make sure that everything works. We have to make sure that our community input is strong and that the designs are feasible… [P]eople want to make sure that it’s real before they give any hard-earned money.’” Hogan added, “Most importantly, funding is secured for the caddie program to begin this summer regardless of any design/construction timelines.”

June 16 by Brian Hogan to the Chicago Sun-Times (Fran Spielman article)

"Our preliminary fundraising has achieve the concept design plan by Tiger Woods, which will be included in the new South Lakefront framework plan that will be shared (with the public next week). As we begin the South Lakefront Framework Plan, along with the Park District and teh Obama Foundation, we will gather more community input and transition to capital fundraising this summer." He added that the public meetings "will include a presentation on the roadway reconfiguration and infrastructure [and shoreline improvements" to make the golf course work. "When we toured the site last week with Ald. Hairston, she discussed long overdue improvements for public safety and lakefront access for for community residents. I'm thankful that golf could help bring light to that, but this is not being driven by golf."

Further commentary in article by Fran Spielman, May 9 2017 Chicago Sun-Times, "Golf course merger would require another road closing." [Ed.- The article erroneously says to Lake Shore Drive. Closure would be between Cornell Drive and Richards, 2/3 of the way east to Lake Shore Drive- one could still use Hayes/63rd from Stony and Cornell east to Richards, then southeast to Marquette and proceed east. While not an unknown possibility before, the Alliance thought it should announce its intention publicly once the Obama Foundation announced its interest in closure of Cornell Drive between 59th and 63rd. The golf project will also require work on the shoreline in the 67th vicinity.]

Brian Hogan, co-founder of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, said golf course architect from the firm owned by tiger Woods have determined that t. he project won't work unless the road is closed. "Marquette Drive bisects right through two large portions of Jackson Park and cuts it into two very narrow strips. Closing that road would connect more green space for the availability of golf holes. We don't think we could build the character of open course that Tiger woods Design is looking to do the way Marquette limits the direction of play," Hogan said.... "Cornell has a greater impact as a commuting road whereas Marquette Road bisects straight through the park, so it creates much more green space. It doesn't quite have the impact upon the daily commute that Cornell does."

...Hogan disclosed that shoreline conditions uncovered by civil engineers from SmithGroupJJR working in conjunction wit golf course architects from Tiger Woods' firm are worse than anticipated and more costly to repair. "The study has revealed significant shoreline erosion, danger to current conditions a multiple points of the SouthShore Cultual Center--not just the golf course but throughout and near the intersection of 67th and South Shore Drive," Hogan said. "There are steel pilings sticking up in the beach, crumbling steel walls , unsightly elements from the golf course as well as the trail and beach areas of the Cultual Center. These sorts of things don't exist on the North Side. The golf course is often flooded around the second hole, and it's not just rain water. That wave action splashes over. That's not a sustainable state for the golf course." [These and other public works projects such underpasses of up to $11 million being spec'd and costed out will not be borne by the golf project. Hogan said,] "We believe these are improvements that are gong to happen regardless of the golf course project to remedy significant erosion to the southern lakefront and the street-level crossing of 67th and South Shore Drive that's very dangerous to pedestrians."

Golf Alliance update August 3 2017- Jerry Levy, Wooded Island site steward, say he is looking forward to the new native plantings and natural habitat including edge habitat for teh proposed golf courses. The rest of the article documents what architects and developers are doing now with golf courses, including transforming brown sites into nature.

December 18 2016 Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a major golf course redesign and program, under Tiger Woods (TGR Design), WPGA, and Western Golf Association and a new nonprofit, Chicago Parks Golf Alliance.

LINKS TO PARK DISTRICT ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS SUBMITTED TO SUPT KELLY AT THE JANUARY 9 2017 JPAC MEETING (and in the future at the January 24 ward meeting) and to SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS are in the Park District website ( homepage (updates) or go to News and Events and find them in the Jackson Park or South Shore Cultural Center park pages.
Oral questions and answers from the January 9 JPAC meeting will be in the February Newsletter.

Among newspaper articles--A Chicago Tribune article by Teddy Greenstein gives the project background and is at (There is more in the Tuesday Dec. 20 sports section. An article from October is no longer up)
Article in the Dec. 17 Sun-Times by Fran Spielman focuses more on park impacts and issues. Link is:
Hyde Park Herald-
JPAC has not yet held discussion on the matter.
Here is some discussion already held and thoughts on the new proposal, and background. Visit Sun-Times archive and the website for clarification on the Alliance timetable for plans and fundraising and (May 9 2017 by Fran Spielman i the Sun-times on update including the closure of Marquette Drive (see below).
An article by Maudlyne Ihejrika on the personal impact of the new caddy and mentoring program- in May 22 2017 Chicago Sun-Times.

Golf Alliance April Newsletter


No further meetings are set at this time. The project remains in concept pahse penciled in in the South Lakefront Plan to be voted on by the CPD baord o Commissioners April 11, 11:30 am at 541 N. Fairbanks 8th fl.
Small group conversations on various aspects and impacts continue.

March 13, Tuesday and March 14, Wednesday, 5:30 pm w presentation a 6:15 and input boards.
SOUTH LAKEFRONT PLAN final consolidated plan roll out and options (largely from scenarios 1 and 3) and stressing recreational, ecological, and cultural programming.
The latest golf plan is included, nothing new on the Obama Center is. This will be the last meeting before the plan goes before the Chicago Plan Commission and Park District Board. South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 South Shore Drive.


Already occurred. Open House Meetings in the summer and early fall. January 9, 2017 Monday, 7 pm. Park District Supt. Mike Kelly and team presented about the Golf Course proposal for Jackson Park and South Shore Cultural Center and answered questions at the Jackson Park Advisory Council meeting at the Jackson Park fieldhouse, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave. Report below.
After the Supt. took about an our answering discerning questions, sheets that were distributed for new or additional questions(with people's emails) were collected -- answers will be sent and all answers will be posted on the Park District ( Look on the left. This site has a link to submit more questions.
Please note that Jackson Park Advisory Council has not taken a position on the matter, although a special committee met with the Golf Alliance, asked many questions, and voted to support pending the feasibility assessment and contingent upon the commitment made by the park district regarding access to golf, fees, remaining a public course, and environmental responsibility.
JPAC may hold a special follow up meeting with the Superintendent in March or April.
Alderman Hairston set up an advisory council led by Al Debonnet that included reps from various stakeholder groups and community member and whose role has been expanded to cover the entire park. It has done on-site inspections but as of mid June 2017 has yet issued no reports.
JPAC also set up a golf committee and a committee on park planning and coordination of projects in light of the park as a whole, both have more than JPAC members and some auditors. They are lead by Jerry Levy. The golf committee has met twice and recommended proceeding with golf planning provided certain conditions are met, to which the Golf Alliance has agreed, and also recommended that the infrastructure changes are needed anyway and should be pursued as they would be in other parts of the city. The coordinating committee has received briefings and queried park district, golf, and Obama officers but has as yet issued no recommendations-- it's role and makeup in the future, in light of the Alderman's Council, is uncertain. In any case, both JPAC committees are on hold pending studies and concepts to be revealed a public meetings in June 2017 (referenced above).

The Superintendent and team also met with South Shore Cultural Center Advisory Council for announcement of many upgrades coming or proposed for the Center, presentation n what is known to date (new information coming in constantly), and to answer a set of questions prepared by the PAC's committee. There was agreement on virtually every issue or concern. A public meeting for the South Shore are will be held when a more informed presentation with graphics of the proposal are available.

Superintendent Kelly says other public meetings will be held. And ultimately hearings including Chicago Plan Commission.

The agreement and delays. December 15, 2016 the Chicago Park District and the new Chicago Parks Golf Alliance signed an Agreement for the $30 million consolidation champion-caliber course. As reported in the Sun-Times June 16, based on media FOIA request, the Alliance will be the sole fundraising entity and work with the Park District for completing the project based on agreed-upon master plans. Timetables were set, but the initial ones have slipped. (This was in part because serious engineering challenges were encountered--including shoreline erosion and drainage problems and possible underpasses (or) at 67th-South Shore and Jeffrey Blvd.--by the firm hired in December 2016 (SmithGroup/JJR at $1.1M) to do a thorough assessment --not just of the golf footprint, it turned out, but virtually all of the South Shore Cultural Center facility except the building footprint, and more parts of Jackson Park; the Park District decided to undertake a thorough needs and cost assessment of the two parks to lead to framework plan revision (part of this being in conjunction with Skidmore under a Chicago Community Trust grant), and because potential donors naturally wanted to see the feasibility and the layout before committing money.
South Shore was to be restored May through September 2018 at $10M through the Alliance. Jackson was to be restored March 2018 through September 2020 at $15M through the Alliance. Upon 50 percent of the fundraising goal met, CPD and CPGA would enter into a separate agreement that would detail construction responsibilities through completion. (Supt. Kelly later said that was $5M and some other requirements including community support.) (Brian Hogan, founding director of the Alliance said in June that he remained highly confident - see above--that the fundraising goals will be met in time to complete the work in 2020 and in the work of the Tiger Woods design team despite personal difficulties experienced by Woods--their concept, as well as the SmithGroup/JJR engineering studies were to be presented at community meetings in June, 2017.
The Alliance is also (including on behalf of the CPD) schedule showcase events and provide economic and cultural benefits to residents. (The Alliance has taken this reasonability very seriously including new youth golf programs with training and scholarship opportunities, and working on other benefits.)

Questions asked orally of Supt. Kelly at the January 9, 2017 JPAC meeting. (NOTE: VISIT THE PARK DISTRICT WEB HOMEPAGE – UPDATES FOR Q & A FROM THE JAN. 9 MEETING AND 5TH WARD MTG. Following here is ORAL Q & A only, as recorded by the Secretary.)

1. (Jerry Levy, JPAC steward and committee co-chair.) There needs to be assurance that high industry standards will be used in applying herbicides and other treatments in the new golf course and that the needs of birds and other wildlife will be served. He distributed a brochure recommended by Jane Masterson -golf courses are good for birds.
2. The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce believes this project will grow and be good for businesses.
3 . I believe this will be a job creator for kids—the caddie positions are important. I especially support an underpass into the community at 67th and South Shore for access to the beaches .
4. As a resident I am completely on board.
5. I want South Shore Drive including at 67th and other access to the park and in the community addressed regardless. And all must benefit from any changes.
A (answer). Connectivity is a high priority. The underpasses et al are costly and require funding.
6. The golfing clubs would like a meeting to which we can all come to discuss the concept and timetable, including how to keep the groups place in the golf courses and the free and reduced fees.
A. Meetings with golf is part of the process. We intend to keep fees as low as possible for city residents and hope for free to under 17. As to speculation of starting in spring, we cannot say that yet—if so, spaces will be found at Jackson.
7 As a businesswoman, I think this is good. I commend Billy Casper management. Will golf clubs and groups still get their dates? Questioned priority when cannot get a full service grocery at 71st and Jeffrey and city can’t pay bills. Have many parties doing it including with Boys & Girls clubs.
A. Golfers can still get their dates this year. Nothing will be done in Jackson this year. Golf needs to be ramped up (to keep the courses viable?).
8. The PD has not used the South Shore Cultural Center as a community or arts center or keep it up or invested in equipment for quality shows—will this change? Will access to the lake and South Shore beach be improved or hindered? Will facilities at the beach including ice cream and the beach house be improved3 and a high quality restaurant open regularly?
A. The Cultural Center will not be turned into a country club. We do have to charge something- it’s expensive.
9.. It’s about the “What’s in it for us?” We need a community benefits agreement with an ongoing direct relationship, and a business plan that is sustainable to use revenues from the new facilities. A solid recreational replacement for what the footprint that is taken by and facilities displaced by the Library need to be part of the mix.
A. The fields will be displaced. The golf courses are losing money, any extra expendable revenue is doubtful. We will share numbers. This may not happen- it requires money, the community, and the golfers.
10. Rainbow Beach AC). Rainbow wants to be part of the mix, as with a practice facility or offsite parking for big events? Talk to us.
A. There may be an opportunity here.
11. Golf moves the pain out. We must provide youth opportunities.
12. It will be fantastic, especially for kids. Move the fields (without dispersing) but go beyond- a year round indoor-outdoor practice and athletic facility that will serve as a safe haven. Would like a CBA regarding these. We can help raise the money.
A. I can’t commit tonight- such facilities are expensive but if you will help raise the money, we will help.
13. How do you start a golf club and get times?
A. It’s easy to do.
14. Parking on the lakefront is too expensive for families and goes up.
A. Disagrees, says it’s cheap is to pay for programs. Fees are better than a property tax hike. It is an ongoing debate.
14. Sports facilities don’t bring youth or other jobs or bring much economic development.
(Remark by Mary Ellen Holt - Entities like WGA only provide help for youth in exchange for getting something.) A. How can you know that (“it’s only because”) but of course we asked and they will start paying youth caddies this summer.
16. (Lanita Ross, 5th Ward Office announcement). The January 24 ward meeting will host the Park District to continue the conversation- 6 pm at South Shore Fine Arts academy, 1415 E. 70th St.
Written questions were collected from the audience and questions sent by email for this purpose were forwarded to Maria Stone for the Superintendent. These will be posted in the Park District’s and linked rom Jackson Park Advisory Council’s websites.

Committee report and recommendation.
Jackson Park Advisory Council Special Committee Supports New Golf Course-January and May 2017

A meeting of a committee of the Jackson Park Advisory Council was held on Friday, January 27, 2017, to discuss the proposed new 18-hole, championship caliber, golf course on the site of the old 18-hole course in Jackson Park and the 9-hole course at the site of the South Shore Country Club. The committee consisted of the entire advisory council board plus six other appointed committee members [Also present but not voting:] three participants from Friends of the Park, Jackson Park Watch, and the Chicago Park District.

After a lengthy presentation by Brian Hogan of the Chicago Park Golf Alliance, discussing details of the new golf course and responding to questions from the committee members, all ten of the committee members individually expressed an opinion favoring the proposed new course. These opinions rested on the expectations that the assurances expressed by Michael Kelly during his appearance at the Advisory Council’s monthly meeting and the Fifth Ward meeting called by Alderman Hairston would be met: namely, that there would be continued open access to the public; that reduced fees would be granted to city residents, regular golfers, and seniors; that juniors 17-and younger would have free greens fees; and that there would be close adherence to ecological standards.

The committee was mindful that the results of the engineering survey and feasibility study being prepared for the Chicago Park District are still to be released and that these results are essential in reaching any final opinion. However, based on what is now known, the committee members expressed opinions that the new course would be a great asset for Jackson Park and the Hyde Park, South Shore, and Woodlawn communities. It was the committee’s consensus that the new course would bring prestige, status, and new economic benefits to the community

Jerry Levy, Chairperson, Jackson Park Advisory Council Committee for the Proposed New Golf Course
(Reported to the February 13 2017 JPAC meeting.)


Jackson Park Watch and Friends of the Parks have called for improvements in the park ONLY after a new FULL park plan for the park as a whole has been developed with a full community process.

May 15 Golf Committee Recommendation

The infrastructure needs revealed by the golf engineering study are needed and should be funded and done regardless of any particular golf plan, as they would be in other parts of the city.


At her January 2017 ward meeting with extensive (mostly favorable) Q an D with Supt. Kelly, Ald. Hairston announced formation of an Advisory Council for the golf-- and in light of her letter to the Obama Foundation asking for engagement, benefits and coordination with the golf proposal/proposal, the AC is likely to take a holistic approach. One person per stakeholding group has been appointed.

Jackson Park Advisory Council's response was 1) to convene a special committee for a full discussion of the golf proposal as known in late January 2017 and ask questions and flesh out concerns that need to be addressed in the proposal. The committee filed a unanimous recommendation with the caveats and pending) for the proposal to the whole JPAC (which was not asked to take action on it).
At the JPAC February 13 meeting, JPAC approved establishment of a committee to examine, review, and seek coordination among, in light of the whole park, for the various proposals and construction that would or is transforming Jackson Park.


Basically, we know little. The 2000 Framework Plan called for upgrade to industry standard (but did not mention professional tournament standard) and relocating the driving range but did not at least directly call for combining the Jackson course with the South Shore. According to Supt Kelly at a public meeting in mid 2016, consolidation south of 63rd St. has been on the PD agenda since about that time. There are reasons to believe concept development by the groups and individuals as below and discussion with both the Park District and the city had obviously been going on in recent years. In fact, in early 2012 this writer received a private communication suggesting much that is in the current proposal-- but not indicating there was a serious planning in process or the parties. By early 2016 there were newspaper articles that appear to have been knowledgeable or prescient. (At least one member of the public commented at a PD board meeting, cautioning on the matter.) As revealed in Mayor Emanuel's private emails was under discussion by August 2016 and Mike Ruemmler, who left his position as campaign chief by late 2015 if not earlier was asked by summer 2016 to help form a nonprofit for the golf project.
According to a December 26, 2016 article by Lynn Sweet based on Mayor Emanuel's released emails on a private iPhone
(BGA lawsuit settlement),
1. (First mention found so far in the emails) August 3 2016 Park District Supt. Kelly wrote the mayor a memo ("Draft and Confidential"), "It is critical for YOU that this project has the support of the Obama Foundation and the surrounding community... Furthermore, the community should initiate the request to improve the golf course... Still we must be very cautious that this community typically weighs in loudly on any capital project that makes change.... In order to host a 2012 PGA Tour event, we need to follow an aggressive timeline." (Note that Kelly did advise getting the community involved. And he has had numerous small and one on one meetings, as have the promoters and will now be having larger meetings. He told Kathy Bergen and others that he crafted the letter very thoughtfully, knowing that it could well become public "It stands on its own.")
Mike Kelly in the memo to the Mayor said that Mark Rolfing partnered "to be our Golf Facilities and Industry Advisor," adding, according to various media, As of today, both Mark Rolfing and I have spoken with Marty Nesbitt. Marty proposes a meeting for next week, which may include a site visit from Tiger Woods. We think meeting with the foundation is an excellent idea, but are concerned about media exposure if Tiger is seen on Chicago's south side."
2. August 6 2016, the Mayor emailed Obama Foundation Chairman Marty Nesbitt (a week or so after Jackson Park was selected for the Library, "Golf memo for POTUS." Whether this email urging Obama and Foundation support was before or after the President called Tiger Woods is uncertain, as is whether Obama saw the email. Nesbit did receive it.
3. In the August 3 memo revealed by the Sun-Times, Kelly referencing him and Rolfing suggesting to Nesbit a visit by Tiger Woods to the courses. In an August 8 memo, the mayor asks Nesbitt to call him about the memo. (It is not surprising that the city, golf, and Foundations should see synergies between the Library and the golf alliance re: site development (and the facilities movements), programming, and fundraising.)

Mark Rolfing. Although thinking about golf reconfiguration began at CPD (and likely with others) around 2000 (it's not a new idea), it was when NBC/Golf Channel golf promoter Rolfing, who is a booster of Chicago, golf, and what he believes to be the power of golf in Chicago to inter alia strengthen the core of Chicago, thinking strategically about weaknesses with golf in the Chicago Region and the city (we basically have just Rolling Meadows, Medinah, Olympia Fields, and Cog Hill, all at considerable distance from the city core) and having combined golf and marketing in Hawaii, came up in 2012 with a "game changing" idea of combining Jackson" course and driving range with that of South Shore Cultural Center (a smaller, more relaxed Par-3, 9 hole course). "Sustainable Urban Golf," he calls it. Rolf was hired in 2016 by the Park District at $90,000 to assess the feasibility. Rolfing assembled the players, from the mayor and Chicago Park District to major golf associations to Tiger Woods under the umbrella of a new
Chicago Parks Golf Alliance (nonprofit). Somewhere here by the start of August 2016 at least the Mayor became (or being) aware of the project becoming a real possibility, asked Mike Ruemmler, who was formerly his campaign chair*, to form a non profit that became CPGA. whose mission (as announced by the Mayor) is to a improve Chicago Park District courses and golf facilities, grow youth golf programs and, raise the $30 million to make the Jackson Park/South Shore project happen. Rolfing will head the foundation. (*Ruemmler says his former role with the mayor has no connection to his work for the Alliance-- he has not been paid by the Alliance (at least into June 2017), but he could be paid for some work in the future, Brian Hogan, president, is cited by Fran Spielman June 16.
associates and advisors-
Mike Keiser (creator of the dazzling complex of competition courses at Bandon Dunes in Oregon)-- he had downplayed the idea here as with too much red tape, community concerns of one sort or another, and environmental problems, but September 2016 jumped aboard. Keiser brought in John Kaczkowski, President of the
Western Golf Association, which runs inter alia the BMW Championship (a FedEx event). Kaczkowski is Chicago's key tie with the PGA tour. What Western Golf brings are: caddie programs for youth leading to college scholarships based on conduct and contribution as well as skills (see also First Tee, below), and customized the course for the BMW in 2021 and other events. One of Keiser's partners is Rodney Goldstein, long involved on the South Side and who will head up fundraising.
PGA (Professional Golf Association), which manages major tours including the BMW. And, Rolfing brought in (inter alia golf duffer and South Sider) Mike Kelly, CPD Supt.- they met at the US Open in 2015. Rolfing introduced Kelly to Tiger Woods whose design team TGR has designed 6 golf courses including highly-touted BlueJack National at Houston, although this would be the first for a major tournament. Woods was asked by President Obama in the summer (before or after the emails cited above) to design the course. Woods in turn took a tour of Jackson in August 2026, and asked why the kids are not being lured to golf when it could be a turnaround for youth. Hence bringing in
First Tee of Greater Chicago, Evans Scholars Foundation (youth engagement/junior golf that is a youth development initiative of the Worlds Golf Foundation, supported by the Masters, LPGA, PGA of America,a PGA Tour and USGA organizations-- there are c. 200 chapters around the world, including operational facilities at Jackson and South Shore). First Tee would move HQ from Glenview to Jackson Park and expand. Woods was said to be skeptical about the site last summer, but recently became more enthusiastic.
Also involved are Kemper Sports and Billy Casper Golf (current managers of Chicago's golf courses). and Mayor Emanuel. Woods and Rolfing became overall advisors, but perhaps because there was no money yet available, there could be no contract, so not yet anything to be approved by the board, unless in a committee report approved as a bundle?

Woods said in a statement quoted in the Tribune, "This project can create incredible possibilities for the community on the South Side. We want to design a course that everyone will enjoy." Mayor Emanuel said, according to statement given to the Tribune, "Restoring these historic golf courses will create another economic and recreational asset for the South Side." The course would remain public and with continued reduced-cost tee times for residents. Parking for tournaments could be at Soldier Field and McCormick Place with shuttles, as was envisioned for the Olympics.

The Obama was a catalyst for doing the remake-- Obama's call to Tiger was only one part. Somehow the Obama Presidential Foundation will, one would guess fro the emails and certain overall site needs, be involved-- it needs to have the track and artificial field moved somewhere--under consideration is the current soccer fields north of Hayes, with the latter moving to the present driving range, in turn moved somewhere south of Hayes/63rd and perhaps have an enclosed, year round facility). And the President is an avid golfer who indicated he would like the prestige of a championship golf course adjacent to his Center and spurring economic development as well as engaging youth.

Timeline and parameters- some work was originally conceived as starting in spring or later 2017, some versions showing work at South Shore first- 3 southern holes. That has now slipped to 2018, South Shore to go first. Courses remain open in 2017 and 18. Opening in 2020 would be the 18-hole main course (which would host tournament in 2021 in accord with the present cycle in the Chicago area) and a short course or Par-3. It could also mean moving the Driving Range and work on teh 67th interface early. (Hopes for the BMW in 2021 is one reason behind the rush-- which could cause bulldozing everyone into accepting but could lead to mistakes. Work on the SS tees could create a demonstration to show BWM tour officials in 2018)). The PGA wants the course as another option in the Chicago area in addition to Medinah - and of bourse the camera etc. views of the lake and skyline.
One very preliminary drawing shows tee 1 close to the Library site, a total of 7300-7600 yards to the 18th by South Shore cultural Center. The "shot values" are very important to Rolfing and Woods. There was some suggestion the smaller would be at South Shore, but drawings, according to some media, and comments suggested hitting balls over the beach by South Shore Cultural Center, which may be unsafe / impractical and insensitive as well as contrary to a goal of keeping balls off 67th and 71st St. Also being suggested is a golfer and bike /emergency vehicle path along the shore in South Shore and an underpass at 67th and South Shore Drive and under Jeffery Drive, all long suggested.

Organizers told media that lots of the details are still up in the air and they want to listen to communities. People do want to know and discuss details and make positive suggestions. Mike Kelly told the media December 18, according to Terry Greenstein in the Tribune, "You can never have enough community involvement. What's important is that this is not a project that is taking away. We're staying within the footprint and enhancing. This is such an exciting project, whether or not you're a golfer."
Later, he said "We're at the beginning stages of this, we're not at teh end, and there will be lengthy community discussions, ..I'm not going to put a shovel in the ground until the community knows what we're doing." "We're not in the business of doing things nobody wants." Even though a start in South Shore is scheduled for spring.


The PD and city say they want:

What is envisioned is two courses in the joint footprint- an 18-hole championship course and a family-friendly and practice course. We should find out Monday where each is.

(Some are suggesting an indoor golf skills facility and repair-upgrade of South Shore Cultural Center and Jackson Park related facilities and the fieldhouse. )

Note- Mike Kelly told the press there will likely be public money included. The Sun-Times Dec. 26 suggested that would be 20 percent of 30 million, or 6 million. How firm these numbers are may be dependent on several factors.


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.

Additional Recommended Sources:

Chicago Tribune; April 30, 1899
Chicago Historical Society Plans for South Shore Golf Course circa 1907 (Attached)
Jackson Park Golf Association Symosium – November 2017. Link contains embedded videos and additional information:
History of Jackson Park Golf Association’s Leagues & Clubs:
Pictures ofTiger’s 1993 visit for a youth clinic at Jackson Park Driving Range.
Images of America series of books on “Chicago’s South Shore Country Club” and “Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.”

For more information on the current project:

Overview Video:
Mark Rolfing Intro Letter (Attached) (Twitter @ChiGolfAlliance and Facebook @ChicagoParksGolfAlliance)


CONCERNS, QUESTIONS PRIORITIES. Some of these have been sent by parties to the Park District and need to be asked at meeting starting January 9.

Extended comments by various persons and writers

May 1 Herald on debate at 1st Unitarian April 28

“We have the ability to create a LEED certified golf course right here in Chicago, a model for all the world. We have Tiger Woods who is using all of his celebrity to focus it here,” says Al Debonnet, South Shore resident and board member of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance. (Photos by Marc Monaghan)

Contributing writer

For a brief moment, it appeared that a glimmer of hope for compromise had developed between those leading the fight for and against the Chicago Park District’s proposed 18-hole, professional-level golf course in Jackson Park after a debate on the issue Sunday at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago.

Leading the debate in favor was Al DeBonnett, chair of the Jackson Park Golf & Community Leadership Advisory Council; against was A. Anne Holcomb, ETHOS (Environmental, Transportation, Health and Open Space) block club chair.

“(Anne) said we can collaborate,” DeBonnett recounted afterwards. “We’ve invited you to meetings,” he said he told her. “You guys just protest outside and not come inside. Come inside and join the conversation.”

But Holcomb was having none of that. “No,” she said laughing. “No, I did not.”

“One of our first steps is to try and meet with Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot.” She said muscle needs to be exerted with the park district “to get the park district board to come to the table and meet either with ETHOS or the South Shore (Advisory Council). The PAC has been trying to meet with them for a long time.

“And the PAC has come up with some sort of plan. I have not seen it. They have some sort of compromise plan.” She said the comprise calls for an expanded golf course “to co-exist with some of the elements that residents don’t want to see disappear.”

She added that Lightfoot has voiced concerns about the Tiger Woods-designed course in recent weeks.

During the debate, noting that the current course is over 100 years old, DeBonnett said it is not well suited for the game anymore. By modern standards, he said, the existing 18-hole Jackson Park course is very short.

He insisted a new course will be sustainable and lead to economic opportunities.

“The guys who are designing (the course) are disciples of Frederick Law Olmsted,” he added.

Holcomb countered that the course redo will affect affordability and change its challenge level. Members of her group play the course, she said.

“I think there might be a way that we come to the table, but we need to go back down the staircase pretty far to talk about what do we as residents want in the park. In-person focus groups. Not everybody does email or Facebook or any of that. In-person focus groups and talk about what we use in the park, what we value in the park, what we would like to see in the park, what would draw us there. And that’s the place to start,” says A. Anne Holcombe, South Shore resident and chair of ETHOS (Environment, Transportation, Health and Open Space Block Club).

“Golf courses are monocultures, very cultivated areas,” she added. “They look green but they aren’t green.”

The park district can be made more green without accepting the Woods golf course design, referring to park district plans to arrange for Woods to design it.

She said the cost of using the course will rise significantly for the public if the course was made over.

We need to “build up our business corridors.” The Tiger Woods course won’t bring in more investment, she said.

The decision to move ahead with the plan was made without consulting the local community. What is the plan for the reimbursement of public money spent on it, she asked.

She noted that the South Shore Cultural Center, which was intended for use by the arts after it was acquired by the park district, is now mostly occupied by offices for the district.

DeBonnett said afterward that “I think we changed some minds . . . Afterwards everyone had a really positive reaction to the statements that were relayed to them, the truthful ones. . . . ”

“Join the much needed 19th century golf course restoration effort . . . Long overdue. The oldest course west of the Allegheny. Before there was football, there was this course that’s never been changed. Do I have to say anything more?”

Referring to the controversial future of the nature sanctuary next to the course, DeBonnett said there’s going to be no sanctuary at all unless something is done with the waves “coming in. The water is at its highest level in 30 years.”

One whose mind wasn’t changed was that of Bill Daniels, who spoke during the event’s question and answer session.

‘I thought the position of the proponents of the Tiger Woods course was pretty much a replay of what’s been going on for the last three years,” he said afterwards. “It’s been the same disinformation … DeBonnett continues to call it a restoration.

“The Tiger Woods design is the exact opposite of a restoration. In all, 27 holes of the golf course will be totally uprooted and destroyed to put in the 18 holes. That’s not my definition of a restoration.”

He said what’s necessary is a project far more limited in scope — enhancements where they’re necessary, like better infrastructure, better irrigation and better drainage,

Furthermore, he pointed out, most of the existing holes run east-west whereas the redesigned holes run north-south. “So there’s no semblance of a restoration. They continue to use that word. I don’t understand how they can do that.”

On the other side, Patricia Harper said the debate failed to sway her stand from favoring the redesign either.

“I found the meeting to be a continued repeat of some of the untruths … More of the same. It’s a manipulation of fact.”

The redesign would bring the course “up to current specs,” she said. She supports the plan because she said she is a golfer who enjoys the game.

“The course needs to be upgraded. It’s a 100-year-old course. It does not promote the experience of the game of golf.”


There are many, especially in adjacent neighborhoods west and south (including many of the same who are thinking in conjunction with the Library), who want this facility, for itself and/or they and think it will be an engine for the community development. They do have questions and want a process. Others either don't want major changes or don't want it from private providers or donors, or not until there has been more planning and agreement (or want to redo standing plans) including on the future of the parks and surrounding communities.

Supporters include members of First Tee of Greater Chicago, referenced above as a supporter of junior golf programs. Erika Shavers, assistant program director, is cited by the Hyde Park Herald that this is an opportunity to drive more youth interest toward golf.
Other golfers are not so sure and figure there will be some crowding out or another (see below). Fran Vandervoort, whose more general letter is given below, told the Hyde Park Herald January 4 issue (Tonia Hill) that she's indifferent: I think it would be a good idea, if it can be assumed that it will be available to a wide spectrum of people, regardless of income.... In particular, I think there should be opportunities for young people possibly working with the schools.. South Shore High School, Hyde Park High schol, and Mount Carmel ... it should e available at a reasonable fee." She also agreed in conversation with this writer that environmental and other concerns would need to be addressed.

The Hyde Park Herald December 21 report by Tonia Hill cited statements by Louise McCurry (JPAC president but speaking for herself) and Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid of Jackson Park Watch (partially echoed by Friends of the Parks as given above).

McCurry (not a direct quote): ...on the surface, the golf complex is something that could benefit the community, young people, and and Jackson Park specifically the fieldhouse which is in need of renovation. [She cited numbers of income said by some sources capable of being generated by such facilities, even a fraction of which could help the surrounding communities enormously.] [McCurry is also quoted by Kathy Bergen in the January 8 Tribune, (the rehab) "will combine two mediocre courses ... and make a great one. So when our African-American President Obama comes back to play golf or bring friends in he'll have a place he can be proud of."

Nelms and Schmid: "This appears to be another step in a money-driven process of divvying up historical Jackson Park into segments without regard to the integrity of the park, local uses, , and users, or the long-term impact on the Community... Instead, any commitments on this possible project needs to be put on the back burner until there ha been on unified, comprehensive planning process for the entire Park including the Obama Presidential Library, on theat is transparent and includes robust and substantial community engagement."

The letter of Jackson Park Watch, followed by a cautionary general letter about calls for transparency, agendas of criticism and use of words. Both appeared in the December 21 issue of the Hyde Park Herald.

Questions about Jackson Park Golf Course. By Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid, Jackson Park Watch (both Margaret and Brenda are active members of JPAC, Margaret helps tend the Japanese Garden)

Surprise! You no doubt know by now that our Mayor and his hand-picked Park District CEO Mike Kelly have announced a surprise holiday gift to us all--the pending establishment of a public/private partnership to raise $30 million to convert the existing Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses into a single 18-hole professional championship-caliber golf course by 2020.

Questions abound: *Transparency? Although rumors about this have been floating, where was the transparent public process?
*Community input? If this were to happen, it would have a massive impact on the park adn surrounding community, especially in South Shore. What does the community want?
*Process? While the announcement has the air of a "done deal," can the Mayor and his appointed Park District CEO really do anything they want in Jackson Park, as appears to have been the case with the Yoko Ono Sky Landing sculpture? Wouldn't this need, at the minimum, approval by the Park District Board, albeit also hand=picked by the Mayor?
*Priorities? Mike Kelly says that the goal is to use $6m of taxpayer money. Why should this take priority over other pressing Jackson Park needs? A new or at least renovated field house? Repair of broken paths? Accessible bathrooms? What about adverse impact on the existing golfers, who could well be price out, and on other uses and users in the rest of the park?
*Environmental impact? And how about an environmental impact analysis? Golf course construction typically means killing all existing plant material adn taking the area down to bare soil. A heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers is required to keep golf course in championship shape. All of these factors need to be explored and publicly discussed.

To sum up: While not yet a certainty, this appears to be yet another step in a money-driven process of divvying up historical Jackson Park into segments without regard to the integrity of the park, to the current, diverse local uses and users, or to the long-term impact on the community. Instead of moving ahead, action on this project should be halted until there has been a unified, comprehensive planning process addressing the future of the entire park, including the Obama Presidential Library -- a planning process that is transparent and includes robust and substantive community engagement.

Jackson Park issues: When words have meaning, or don't. By Frances S. Vandervoort, Jackson Park Advisory Council Nature Trail Steward and active member of JPAC).

What? More transparency? Haven't we been hearing that word a lot these days from a coterie of so-called Jackson Park supporters asking for more transparency from officials and community representatives involved in restoration of our lovely but somewhat run-down Jackson Park? This, despite numerous public meetings held over the past two years where proposals have been vetted, questions asked, and clarification provided again and again.

Hyde Park is indeed fortunate to have excellent ecologists, urban planners, and Olmsted experts involved in the future of Jackson Park. the loveliest feature of Chicago's south side. Yet, there are those who profess to have expertise in areas of forestry, wildlife management, and park use --or non-use-- who reject the goals of professionals deeply committed to the true role of this south side jewel. Some local residents even advocate benign neglect which, as we all should recognize, resulted in many of the problems besieging the park over the past half-century and more.

Some individuals bemoan the relocation by trained wildlife experts that come visiting from points south, chewing down mature trees lining Jackson Park lagoons. Ironically, these are the same folks who object to replanting of bur oak saplings in fear that the resulting density of these sturdy trees will lead to overcrowding and disease. Never mind that these oaks are descendants of trees that have thrived since woodpeckers carried their ancestral acorns north as the last ice sheet withdrew nearly 15,000 years ago.

Other terms distorted by the naysayers are plan vs. concept. A pavilion has been conceptualized, but not yet formally for the Music Court, southeast of the Museum of Science and Industry. Might one ask if it might not be better to have musical performances, even if loud, tightly focused and monitored in one locale rather than emanating from huge, generator-powered speakers scattered at random throughout the park.

For these folks, transparency has become a euphemism, even a subterfuge for their inability to recognize a good thing when it is presented to them. No one would want Jackson Park to revert to the original mosquito-infested morass of swamps and swales of more than 150 years ago when the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted with his partner Calvert Vaux produced its original design. Today, Jackson Park is on the verge of becoming a truly great park for all people. Olmsted designed parks as elegant, natural venues where all people could come together to promote the spirit of democracy. This is the destiny of Jackson Park. This is the destiny of us all.

Letter in the Herald of January 4, by Eric Ginsberg. (Mr. Ginsberg is an active member of JPAC).
Some transparency questions about transparency

There have been calls in these pages for more transparency about transparency. Let me be transparent. Since I moved to Hyde Park in 2002, I have come to love Jackson Park for its animals, from dragonflies to birds to coyotes. Before I moved here, I didn't know that most of the species I've been able to see here even existed, and the idea that I could find them on the South Sid of Chicago would never have occurred to me. I discovered them mostly through the regular Saturday morning bird walks, which have been held almost continuously since the 1970's when Doug Anderson started leading them. The bird walks are unique in the country : they're free, they're year-round, and welcoming to all.

So when Ms. Vandervoort asserts in a Letter to the Editor that "No one would want Jackson Park to revert to the original .... swamps and swales of more than 150 years ago..." I am not so sure that is true. I suspect the bird watching (and fishing) in the area were better in the area then. But that's a false choice. The park exists in its current state, the Darrow Bridge still needs fixing, and the Presidential Center will be built here.

As we move forward, though, real questions remain. First, where should Jackson Park be placed on a spectrum that runs from untouched wetlands to paved amusement park? I favor the more natural side. The Army's Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration Project has mostly pulled in that direction. The accommodation of Olmstedian vistas in the Army's restoration, the plans for a music venue in the pasrk, and placement of a large steel sculpture on Wooded Island, the siting of the Presidential Center, and now, perhaps, the upgrading of the golf course, are pulling in the other.

And who decides? I've openly lived in Chicago for twenty years, so I'm still learning how such decisions are made. From my naive viewpoint, though, I am not clear how Yoko Ono and Tiger Woods ended up at the forefront of the planning. In the interests of transparency, can the powers-that-be tell us if there are any additional celebrities lined up to design more of the park?

I do have some simpler questions. How much will the golf course upgrade cost Chicago taxpayers? I have read that the project will cost $30M, not including two major underpasses, with 80 percent of that $30M coming from private sources. So can we assume the city's tab will be $6M plus the cost of the two underpasses? How much will each of those cost? Can Tiger Woods tell us how many of the mature trees lining the current golf courses will need to be chopped down? Cand he tell us whether or not the upgrade will result in ore or less herbicides and pesticides being applied on the course, right next to our beaches and water supply?

I would have naively hoped I wouldn't have to write this letter asking these questions. My expectations for transparency are that someone in authority would demonstrate that he or she is simultaneously thinking about a comprehensive, affordable plan that will, among other items, accommodate the traffic of a PGA tournament, get the Darrow Bridge repaired , make intelligent use of both the 63rd street Beach House and the South Shore Cultural Center, preserve soccer fields, basketball and tennis courts, relocate teh running track and football fields, upgrade the Jackson Park fieldhouse, appeal to dog owners and fishermen, move tourists between the MSI and the Presidential Center, and not compromise either the Army Corp's ecological restoration project or other natural areas, or teh environment generally, all without horribly disrupting the surrounding schools, businesses and residents.

But I have not seen such a plan yet, so in the interests of transparency, I have to ask.

A letter addressed to the Mayor, CPD, the Jackson and South Shore councils and others, was received by JPAC dated December 29. Without permission at present to reproduce the letter or ID the writer, this editor thought it important nevertheless to indicate the concerns expressed. Its author, a local user of the golf courses and South Shore Resident was invited by the JPAC meeting to attend the January 9 JPAC meeting where the concept will be presented.

  • Concern he will not be able to play on his golf course and in his neighborhood any more due to pricing and other forces regardless of pricing exceptions. All deserve to enjoy their lakefront, which was designed for all.
  • Concern this is part of an effort to turn the Lakefront into a luxury playground for the rich.
  • Concern that roadways and parking cannot accommodate the tournaments.
  • Concern that contractors will be from outside the city- hiring companies and employees from the communities will help more than some caddieships and scholarships and help close the gap between rich and poor.


Some links:


"As we testified to previously, Friends of the Parks appreciates Chicago Park District leadership meeting with us recently to discuss the Park District budget in advance of the hearings and to share your vision for a professional golf course combining the current Jackson Park and South Shore public courses.
However, we really wish that your process didn't once again set things up for a fight. In line with the statement you made to us that there would be a comprehensive planning process for Jackson Park, we wish that you would have been doing that planning for both Jackson Park and Washington Park over the past year or two. That would have given lots of time for consideration of various ideas and suggestions and lots of time to vet various ideas.

We recognize that there are always going to be disagreements about the best use or uses of parks, just as Monday evening's Jackson Park Advisory Council meeting at which you presented the professional golf course idea demonstrated that the community is clearly divided on the issue.

But when you hold community input sessions at the very last minute, trying to create the impression of public participation, after the Park District and the Mayor have been secretly putting a plan in place for quite a long time, you create mistrust. Even those who believe the golf course could be a good thing might wonder whether you can be trusted when you say that the course will be affordable, publicly-accessible, a great thing for youth, a good economic development opportunity for local folks, etc.

And how can we trust you when you say that there will be a comprehensive planning process but then a few short weeks later make an announcement that shows that you were not fully honest with us and are putting the cart before the horse? If you move forward with the golf course, everything else will have to be planned around it, and that is not a healthy way to start a truly transparent, participative, park planning process.

We hope that you will take measures to stop this train before it pulls out of the station. Entering into a contract now regarding the golf course sends a terrible message about the Chicago Park District's commitment to comprehensive park planning in Jackson Park and true community process."



Jackson Park Timeline. South Shore Cultural Center Timeline.


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.

Some resources on history from the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance

Chicago Tribune; April 30, 1899
Chicago Historical Society Plans for South Shore Golf Course circa 1907 (Attached)
Jackson Park Golf Association Symosium – November 2017. Link contains embedded videos and additional information:
History of Jackson Park Golf Association’s Leagues & Clubs:
Pictures ofTiger’s 1993 visit for a youth clinic at Jackson Park Driving Range.
Images of America series of books on “Chicago’s South Shore Country Club” and “Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.”

A Timeline

1998-99. Jackson Park Golf Course--the first public 9-hole course west of the Alleghenies--is constructed in the area of the present Golf Driving Range east of the East Lagoon. It was the only change to the 1895 Plan before 1906. It helps democratize the sport, since players did not have to belong to a country club. A second 9-hole was soon added and both had no fee until 1919.

1900. Second, current golf course--18-hole course, said to be designed by Olmsted Brothers but the foremost expert says that is unknown, opens, dominating the south third of the park. This was a change to the Plan, but approximately in the area where playing fields were designated. The existing golf shelter building is built. By 1906, 87,500 players used this course and 40,000 the 9-hole. Busiest day? 4th of July.

1907. a second addition is built to the 18-hole golf course building- 700 new lockers, showers, expansion of the 1903 lunch counter. By 1911, 70,000 played on the 9-hole course and 140,000 the 18-hole.

1912. Burnham Co. designs, Olmsted Company sites a still-existing golf shelter building by the 9th hole of the 18 hole course with views of the lake. Classical design with Spanish hipped roof, using exposed aggregate concrete. Men's and Women's washrooms on opposite sides (someone had to think of that).

c. 1919. About this time, a larger 18-hole golf course, with a charge, replaces the two nine-hole courses. A track and picnic open area will replace that in the northeast. Fees start to be charged.

late 1930's.A shelter/comfort station was built by the original 9-hole golf course, which was replaced in 1936 by a running track (in turn lost to the Nike Base then Golf Driving Range and so recreated better in the 1990s by the track at 62nd and Stony), ball fields and parking lot. Today the building serves the Golf Driving Range and Bobolink Meadow. The building was a replica of one in Lincoln Park, with random ashlar masonry and half-timbering. It is tee-shaped with office, bathrooms and a roofed open shelter area popular for snacking and resting.

1978. Despite public outcry, including from church picnic groups, the Park District turned a large part of the former Nike base into the Golf Driving Range. This area had held early lawn tennis, and in the 1930s a cinder running track and ball fields had been installed and the great lawn--all inaccessible during the Nike era and after. The thousand linear feet of chain link fence (much of it later deteriorated) disrupted flow through the park and the concept of "field/great lawn." The drive to the parking and driving range house needed repairs from time to time and installation of an arm gate.

1997. The main golf course shelter is rehabilitated and named for Cecil Partee. Sometime around then the golf course is turned over to private management. At times there were complaints about skimping public service.

1999-2001. Framework planning. Suggested to consider relocating the Golf Driving Range south of 63rd and westward toward Cornell Dr.

In the early 2000s the golf manager (Billy Casper) began to treat parts of the course as wildlife areas with more natural plantings.

2014-. Army Corps of Engineers began natural plantings around the edges and in semi-wet areas of the course.


1906. South Shore Country Club's first fieldhouse is built and its first golf holes laid out.

1907. The 9-hole golf course is finished and opened.

1999. As framework planning continues, Kemper Sports proposes to set up Junior Golf where (southeast peninsula) the Council and Alderman were working with the District to establish a major nature center. Eventually, Junior Golf is constructed northwest of the clubhouse. And work begins on a spectacular Nature Center under the District's Department of Natural Resources.