Wilmette, News

Canal Shores’ $5.9 million renovation to focus on youth facility, caddie academy

A year after taking over Canal Shores golf course, KemperSports is getting to work.

In coordination with the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association, Kemper announced Monday its plan to begin a $5.9 million renovation of the century-old course in June.

According to a press release from Kemper the work will focus on youth golf and include a youth golf facility and a caddie academy.

“We brought in KemperSports because its team shared our vision for Canal Shores — that it could continue to serve not only as a community golf haven but an example of forward-thinking programming that will provide educational and employment opportunities for underserved youth in this community,” said Matt Rooney, president of the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association, in the release.

The release did not provide further details on the new amenities but did add that $4 million has already been raised for the project and includes a hefty donation from the Western Golf Association, which supports caddies through the Chick Evans Scholarship Fund.

The renovations will begin in June and continue on a rotating basis. Canal Shores will be open through Aug. 1, but not all holes will be playable. The entire project is set to be complete by summer 2024.

According to the release, the course will still host the concert series Out of Space from July 27-30.

Canal Shores is a 3,600-yard, par-60 course that straddles Evanston and Wilmette on 82 acres of land owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District land along the waters of the North Shore Channel.

Built in 1919, the course was originally named after Peter Jans, an Evanston man who believed in a need for less expensive and more accessible options to play the game of golf.

The course is a nonprofit governed by the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association, which in January 2022 passed operations to KemperSports, a 44-year-old company that manages 120-plus recreation facilities, including The Glen Club and Deerpath Golf Course.

“Canal Shores is truly a one-of-a-kind golf course that has served its local community for more than 100 years, and we want to ensure its future is even more purposeful and impactful,” said Josh Lesnik, executive vice president of KemperSports, in the release. “With support from the Western Golf Association, First Tee – Greater Chicago, Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation, Chicago District Golf Association and individual donors, we will be able to improve and enhance the golf course in order to create opportunities for local youth.”

A fundraising video for Canal Shores’ Second Century campaign.

The golf association is hoping to raise the remaining $1.9 million through its Second Century fundraising campaign.

Todd Quinto was hired to design the renovations. Quinto Golf Designs has also worked on Traditions at Chevy Chase in Wheeling, Bridges of Poplar Creek in Hoffman Estates and White Eagle Golf Club in Naperville, among others.

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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