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Tiger’s Municipal Course Restoration Coming To Fruition

The Tiger Woods-designed South Side Chicago municipal course finally appears to be a go after years of perseverance cutting through obstacles and red tape.

In a well-reported feature-length article by Golf.com’s Dylan Dethier, the reality of the 18-hole Jackson Park and 9-hole South Shore being restored and combined into an 18-hole championship golf course that is open to the public and will greatly benefit the community has come to fruition. 

A December 12 meeting of the Chicago Park District resulted in the approval of funds to be paid to The Smith Group, an engineering firm, for the next three and a half years, but more importantly, it signaled a commitment from the city to make the vision for affordable, championship golf on the shores of Lake Michigan a reality after years of delays due to bureaucratic red tape. 

“I first learned the game on public courses playing with my Pop,” Woods told Golf.com. “I hope this course will be more than just golf and also make a positive impact in the community. We are eager to proceed toward groundbreaking at Jackson Park and South Shore.”

Woods’ first visit to Jackson Park came as an 18-year-old putting on a youth clinic in 1993. When Woods returned to the site of that clinic some 23 years later at the request of President Barack Obama who was looking to have a golf course built near the site he had chosen for his presidential library, the 80-time PGA Tour winner saw an incredible opportunity. 

“To have the opportunity to work with the president on something like this in his home city, if we can pull this off, I think it can benefit so many people on the South Side,” Woods said.

“The entire reason Tiger got into architecture in the first place is because he wanted to do impactful, meaningful projects,”Beau Welling, TGR’s head of design, said. “This was a confluence of a lot of things: a historic site, Mark (Rolfing)’s vision, President Obama, and the opportunity to do so many things across a diversity of demographics. I’ve worked for a long time and this certainly has the potential to be my most meaningful, impactful project — by a lot.”

The entire course renovation is being funded largely by private dollars, which makes it much more palatable politically. Bandon Dunes owner Mike Keiser is headlining a group of Chicago-area contributors that are largely footing the bill for the project.

Following the successful blueprints of other community-driven course builds, local residents will enjoy greens fees that won’t go above $50 per round while visitors will pay a higher price. Additionally, as a community improvement project, a caddie program has already been started that will encourage area youth to get into golf the way many from previous generations have.

Future visions for PGA Tour events and even international competitions are on the minds of those involved, but it’s likely there won’t be any realistic talks about Jackson Park making it onto the PGA Tour schedule before 2022.

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