Wednesday
Jan312018

Revised Jackson Park plan now $60 million

Writing from Chicago

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The potential rebuilding of the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses and the associated infrastructure for it is now a $60 million project, twice the original projected cost, Chicago Park District superintendent Mike Kelly said Wednesday night.

About half of that will be to construct a pair of underpasses on streets that cut through the golf course in both the present and revised routings, Kelly said.

“Whether we get this golf course or not, the underpasses need to happen,” Kelly said, citing the safety aspect of installing them under Jeffery Blvd. in the middle of the courses, under 67th St. on the east end, and potentially, a third under Hayes Dr. for easier access to the practice range. That would raise the cost another $1.5 million to $2 million, Kelly explained.


Kelly wouldn’t put a timetable on any aspect of the project, except to note that once construction began, it would take at least 18 months, depending on the time of year it began. A year ago, he said groundbreaking would occur in the spring of last year.

Instead, the past year has been one for listing to community members both compliment and complain about the plan. The changes were presented to a group of about 300 people Wednesday night at the South Shore Cultural Center. The largest applause for any feature was for the revised and expanded nature sanctuary, the removal of which in the original plan caused great consternation. The current 5.5 acre area adjacent to Lake Michigan will be retained in part – with a green on the peninsula occupying most of it – and expanded to a total of 11.5 acres under the revised routing by course architect Beau Welling, the lead designer of Tiger Woods’ design company.

Additionally, the closing of Marquette Rd. has been mitigated somewhat by the allowance of a bike and jogging path along the same route.

But the price tag is still huge, and Kelly admits the money isn’t there at the moment, one reason – along with permitting and final adjustments – there’s no timetable for construction.

The concept, originally sold as being an answer to a 2000 survey, has been folded into a larger concept called the South Lakefront Framework Plan, one including more natural habitat areas.

The west side of the golf course has been largely rerouted, with a new golf clubhouse on at 67th and Jeffrey, and the course starting and ending there rather than its current location near 63rd St. on Richards Ave. That clubhouse, named after Cecil Partee, will be used for the short course and the youth golf programs planned in conjunction with the rebuild.

“We have returning nines now,” Welling said. “That makes perfect sense.”

Willing noted his original plan didn’t have that, and that the regulars used to playing nine at South Shore complained. “By shifting the clubhouse, we achieve that, though it’s the 10th hole that returns to the clubhouse.”

The new plan includes a third lake on the course, adding a dramatic approach to the fourth hole and the entirety of the par-5 fifth.

In his original plan, the final four holes played alongside fencing on 67th and then Cornell Dr. Now, the 15th through 17th holes are the picturesque ones along the lakefront, behind the South Shore Cultural Center – the old clubhouse for South Shore Country Club – with the par-5 18th returning along 67th to Jeffrey, and a lake on the right side of the fairway similar to the par-4 16th at Kemper Lakes. If the BMW Championship or another pro tournament is played there, the final four holes are a 3-5-3-5 combination, with the tee shot on the 545-yard par-5 16th over the beach at the South Shore complex. Regular customers would play it as a 365-yard par-4.

The yardages of the par-70 course would range from 2,998 to 7,161 yards, and as a 7,341-yard par-71 layout in tournament play.

Kelly made a curious analogy during both a news conference and the public presentation, noting the current Jackson Park layout had narrower fairways than Oakmont Country Club, and that South Shore had smaller greens than those at Pebble Beach. He neglected to note that Jackson Park is much shorter than Oakmont, and South Shore is effectively a par-3 course with a couple of longer holes, thus mitigating the need for larger greens.

People seemed pleased, with many asking Kelly and Welling questions of their own following the formal presentation, but not everyone liked what they heard.

“I don’t want an amusement park,” one resident told a WBBM-AM reporter. 

Tim Cronin

A thorough analysis of the revised course and the entire concept will appear in the next digital issue of Illinois Golfer.

Course design image courtesy Chicago Park District; TGR Design.

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