A lot of effort is being exerted at Canal Shores Golf Course over the summer, but fortunately, its heavy machinery doing the work instead of your 7 iron.
Construction is well underway for the nearly $6-million renovations on the 104-year-old golf course on the border of Wilmette and Evanston, and more details about the improvements have come to light.
Todd Quitno was hired to design the renovations. Quitno 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.
Course leaders have touted the project’s focus on youth golfers and development, and that goal will be served front and center. What were Holes 1 and 2 are becoming a training ground featuring a 30,000-square-foot putting green and the course’s first hole.
The first hole will end on a larger and more interesting green, a course-wide hallmark of the renovations, according Chris Charnas, who is vice president of golf on the course’s board of trustees.
Another major change includes three holes — 5-6-7 — with a view of the Baha’i Temple. One of the holes is a Par 3 putting hole — it’s all green. Charnas said internally, they are calling the area Baha’i Corner and are thinking the unique space could at times be rented out for small outings.
The course designers also added an extra hole, 17b, to the layout. The 100-yard hole stretching over a water feature.
During the course buildout, Charnas said, workers have cleared out plenty of buckthorn to clear up views and increase playability. The renovations have also cost the course plenty of trees to increase sun exposure to the grass below. Some of the trees removed were cottonwoods and silver maples alive for the better part of a century, drawing complaints from neighbors.
But Charnas said it had to happen for the course to survive.
“We need to grow grass to keep this place going,” he said.
Aeration and seeding is underway throughout the course and even complete in some parts, and Charnas and company still hope that at least some portion of the course will be playable by next summer.
“At some point next summer we will have golfers out here,” he said. “Maybe it’s only 12 holes. It’s up to Mother Nature.”
Built in 1919, Canal Shores Golf Course 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.
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. Jans’ sentiment continues to guide the future of the course, officials have said about the renovations.
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.
The golf association is still raising funds for the project through its Second Century fundraising campaign.
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