Some times it takes synergy of widely divergent sources to pull off a project of major scale and importance, but it also takes the stewardship of a visionary to collate those sources, convince them of shared purpose, and compose a finished proposal that has a chance to get to the finish line.
In the case of the restoration of a pair of age old public courses in the South Side of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan that visionary is Mark Rolfing. Those sources are Tiger Woods, Barack Obama, Mike Keiser, and Al DeBonnett who have collectively brought to the brink of reality a restored municipal golf venue that is a win-win-win-win for all the parties involved.
If they have there way they will create, at a minimal cost to the public coffers, a restored Jackson Park 18-hole Championship Course complete with public access to the beach, a community cultural center, affordable greens fees, and viable youth employment program.
The model for this project is totally unique in the way it is funded, the pricing structure for the golf, the caddie program, and community amenity improvement possibilities that it will create and support.
It is hard to imagine totally funding this with private donations, greens fees on a championship layout of less then $50 for the neighborhood locals, a robust caddie program that could provide employment of 150 to 200 inner city kids, and improvement and support of non-golfing community recreational amenities. This is the type of stuff often discussed but rarely accomplished in major urban renewal projects. But that is what this confluence of sources has brought to the table to the benefit of this community and it’s residents.
Pour yourself a cup of refreshment and take a few minutes to read Dylan Dether’s fascinating account of the development of this unique project to renew Jackson Park Golf Course and dramatically enhance this neiborhood in the South Side of Chicago.