By Joseph Phillips
In a quest to redesign and update both the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses, the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance believes that the newly renovated course will not only provide multiple opportunities for golfers of the past, present and future, but will impact the surrounding communities both socially and economically.
According to the Alliance, the newly renovated course will feature several updates, including a refurbished Golf Pavilion, an enhancement of the course’s trail connectivity, an increase in acreage of natural areas across the golf course, an additional special event driveway for the South Shore Cultural Center exit, and the reconfiguration of the course’s driving range within the group’s framework scenario.
Brian Hogan, co-founder of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, explained that many young golfers have already taken advantage of the park’s First Tee program and is thankful for their contribution to the community.
Hogan said that the program’s mission is to grow the game of golf by transforming the experience that young people (and families) have with the sport.
“The Chicago Parks Golf Alliance thanks the First Tee of Greater Chicago for expanding their impactful program offerings at Jackson Park and South Shore,” said Hogan. “Along with golf instruction, the First Tee emphasizes life skills and core values through the game of golf.”
Hogan, who is also a volunteer at the course, shared that the First Tee program has been active at Jackson Park and South Shore for over 10 years. He explained that the course is currently home to several golf champions, including Chicago Park District city champs and brother tandem, Abdel and Ahmad Raoul (nephews of Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul).
Prior to winning championships, the Raoul brothers explained that the program helped add fundamentals, core values and sportsmanship to their golf game.
“[As a participant], I was able to learn with the First Tee of Greater Chicago the importance of the fundamentals of golf,” said Ahmad Raoul, an eight year participant of the program. “[Including] the nine core values, [which help me compete] during [golf] tournaments.”
Raoul said that the nine core values of the program consist of respect, responsibility, judgment, sportsmanship, perseverance, confidence, honesty, courtesy and integrity.
He explained that with the help of his parents and instructors, he, and his brother Abdel, a two time golf champion (2015 and 2016) and six year participant of the program, have combined to win several golf championships on both the junior and amateur level for the Chicago Park District.
“My parents pay for my brother and I to have lessons [with] a coach to help improve my game,” said Abdel Raoul.
In addition to the success of the Raoul brothers, participants, coaches and volunteers enjoy summer evenings at the lakefront courses twice a week with the First Tee High School Prep League on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m., according to Hogan.
Hogan believes that it is inspiring to see increased activity among community members of all ages around the golf course, as anticipation rises for proposed improvements by golf great Tiger Woods’ TGR Design in the near future.