“While the Obama Presidential Center is rising in Chicago’s Jackson Park, a closely related project favored by the former president continues to languish.
“Backers still hope to resurrect the grand plan for a new professional tournament-quality course next door, but with little progress, residents remain anxiously waiting for restoration of two existing courses.
“In 2016, then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans for a new PGA-caliber golf course next to the planned presidential library. The proposal was backed by the clout of the former president and golf superstar Tiger Woods, whom Obama asked to design the course.
“Nearly seven years later, the plan to combine and rebuild Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses appears to have ground to a halt, with little governmental involvement and almost no money.
“The grand vision reached this impasse through a lack of political support, a dearth of fundraising and the effects of a pandemic. Regardless of whether the plan materializes, supporters maintain the need has never been greater to restore the historical courses to a point where they can support not only golfers, but jobs and youth participation.
“Questions arose about the future of the project recently after Valerie Jarrett, CEO of the Obama Foundation, told Crain’s Chicago Business that the foundation was not pursuing the project, and she had only heard ‘rumors’ that the golf course project was still alive.
“Golf consultant Bill Daniels, who founded Golf Chicago magazine, calls the PGA-level makeover a ‘bad idea,’ saying a course restoration would make more sense as a training facility.
“‘It seems like it’s dead in the water, but we’re worried this is the beast that won’t die,’ Daniels said. ‘There’s always that possibility until someone drives a stake through its heart.’
“Brenda Nelms, co-president of Jackson Park Watch, said a course restoration should be aimed at community golfers. She called the Tiger Woods plan an unfeasible ‘pipe dream’ that the Park District should give up.” (McCoppin, Chicago Tribune, 9/29/23)
Preservation Chicago has been advocating diligently with community partners to protect historic Jackson Park from a massive golf course project that would profoundly change the existing greenspace and require the cutting of thousands of old-growth trees.
- Plans for Tiger Woods golf project near Obama Presidential Center have stalled, but hopes remain for restoration of existing courses; Robert McCoppin, Chicago Tribune, 9/29/23
- Inside and around the Obama Presidential Center as it rises in Jackson Park, Greg Hinz, Crain’s Chicago Business, 9/7/23
- Obama Foundation Backs Away From Tiger Woods Golf Course In Jackson Park; Former President Barack Obama asked the golf legend to take on the course overhaul near the Obama Presidential Center. Now, foundation officials say they’re not involved in the project and are “singularly focused” on opening the center, Maxwell Evans, Block Club Chicago. 9/8/23