Wilmette, Community

Canal Shores targets July for partial opening of renovated course

(Editor’s Note: This story was reported by Jim Brown and originally published by the Evanston Roundtable, a neighboring independent newsroom. It was shared with The Record as part of an ongoing collaborative effort.)

With temperatures creeping up, flowers budding and sunset nearing 7 p.m., many Evanston residents are turning their attention to outdoor activities, including golf. 

In the summer and fall of 2023, the Evanston/Wilmette Golf Association, working with Wadsworth Construction, restructured all 18 holes of the Canal Shores Golf Course, including the addition of a training facility located at holes 1 and 2 of the old course layout. Wadsworth also reseeded all 18 holes of the course

Schedule for opening

“The warm winter has helped us, but the opening of the course will be dependent on our spring weather,” said Matt Rooney, president of Evanston/Wilmette Golf Association. ” We plan to make an announcement regarding the opening of the course around June 1.” 

The holes north of Central Street were completed earlier in the fall and the grass that was planted on these holes had a chance to grow. The holes south of Central were completed later and will need to be reseeded this spring.

“If the weather cooperates, we hope to open the 11 holes north of Central in July and then open the entire course, including the holes south of Central Street, early in the fall,” Rooney said.

The grass on the course is quite fragile as it has not yet had a chance to develop a strong root structure.

“We are pleading with our golf course neighbors to stay off the newly seeded grass,” Rooney said. “Whether you are a golfer, bird watcher or a dog walker, if residents do not stay off the grass the course opening will be delayed, penalizing everyone.”

Rooney also noted that the Canal Shores Lumberjacks, a group of neighborhood volunteers, has constructed trails on both sides of the canal, extending from Isabella Street to Green Bay Road. Residents can now use these trails without damaging the golf course.

Course partnerships

Canal Shores has a history of partnerships with organizations that have coordinated their youth golf initiatives. Moving forward, Canal Shores is working with their legacy partners while also adding several new partnerships. 

For the last five years, Canal Shores has partnered with The Golf Practice, a PGA-recognized golf academy that teaches life skills to junior players through golf. The Golf Practice will make use of the new training facility that was added to the Canal Shores layout. 

A new partner, First Tee of Greater Chicago, provided substantial funding for the Canal Shores reconstruction. First Tee, an organization that “empowers kids and teens through the game of golf,” will facilitate golf instruction at Canal Shores for youngsters from the North side of Chicago and the west side of Evanston.

Another new Canal Shores partnership is with the Western Golf Association and Evans Scholars Foundation. The Western Golf Association runs the Evans Scholars program, providing four-year college scholarships to caddies who have a financial need and meet academic requirements. There are 1,100 Evans Scholars attending college this year.

Evans Scholars will fund a caddy academy at Canal Shores for children who participate in The Golf Practice and First Tee of Chicago programs and have a high interest in golf.

“The Evans Scholars Program is looking forward to having a pool of caddies from Canal Shores become eligible for the Evans Scholarships,” Rooney said.

The Western Golf Association also provided substantial funding for the Canal Shores reconstruction. 

“In addition to a completely redesigned golf course for the community, the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association Board is looking forward to introducing the game of golf to diverse youth in our community, provide work opportunities through caddying, and access to college scholarships,” Rooney said.

The Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association raised the funds for the Canal Shores reconstruction. The City of Evanston and the Village of Wilmette did not provide funds for the project.

“We raised $5.4 million for the golf course reconstruction, but we still need to raise another $500,000 to complete the project,” Rooney said.

To donate to Canal Shores, click here.

Evanston RoundTable

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