About 75 persons filled the small meeting room of the American Legion Hall on Central Street in Evanston Friday night to hear plans for a significant upgrade of the 18-hole golf course affectionately known as Canal Shores.

Once known primarily for running behind on paying its water bills to Evanston and Wilmette, the recently overhauled Board of Directors of the Evanston Wilmette Golf Association asserts it has now paid its bills and is gearing up for a campaign to raise $6 million in time to celebrate a significant improvement of its facilities by the time of its 100th anniversary in 2019.

Concerned neighbors whose properties abut the course, that runs along the North Shore Channel in Evanston and Wilmette, were eager to learn whether the unique sports venue will improve or harm their property values over time.

Some of the questions asked of the board began with the statement, “I’m not a golfer, but…”

The audience, after listening to a review of plans from golf course designer and landscape architect Dave Zinkand of Arizona, were primarily interested in whether they could still walk their dogs on the 40-acre course, the chances of stray golf shots hitting their patios, and whether removal of trees along the waterway would be harmful to the ecology of the area.

Golf course designer Dave Zinkand outlines plans for upgrading the course.

Members of the board assured them that their concerns would be addressed as they attempted to turn the facility into a world-class asset that would be beneficial to youngsters in the community who had ambitions of emulating Luke Donald, the pro golfer who spent many hours practicing on the links during his college days at Northwestern University.


Zinkand explained that the current thinking is to break the course into a 12-hole professional course supplemented by a “backlot” portion described as “a dynamic practice facility that doubles as a six-hole short course.”

Zinkand noted that time-stressed golfers of the 21st Century are increasingly wary of devoting three to four hours to traverse a traditional 18-hole course and that a 12-hole facility is gaining greater acceptance throughout the world of golfing.

The biggest problem facing the board today is raising enough funds from traditional sources such as greens fees and parking revenue during Northwestern football games to enable the facility to be self-sustaining, as it receives no funding from taxpayers, nor does it intend to ask for public funding.

It is hopeful of enticing Northwestern and public schools in Evanston and Wilmette to rent the course for training future Luke Donalds and Tiger Woods and for encouraging more local residents to host “large corporate and charitable golf outings, alumni association reunions, birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, neighborhood parties,” and the like.

One resident suggested they set up dining facilities on the course, but a director said they’ve tried that, but it failed to bring in sufficient revenue to be self-sustaining.

On the ecology side, officials admitted that a number of trees along the banks of the channel would have to go, but their intention was to weed out the “invasive species” such as buckthorn and to install more native species that would thrive and turn the channel into an ecologically sustainable area that would add beauty as well.

The upshot of the meeting was that the plans are still in the formative stage and that nothing would be started until the board could be assured that sufficient financing would be available. That means raising $6 million in grants and donations in the next two years.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Golf course revenue

    The article says "…raising enough funds from traditional sources such as greens fees.."

    Anyone who drives, walks, bikes or lives around the course, see many people drive-up or walk onto the course different places—where they don't have to and did not pay a greens fee,  I've never seen an official ask golfers to see the fee paid ticket.

    The city does not get the tax and the course does not get the money for up-keep–and likely have to ask the city for funds to make that up.


    1. The City Does Not Fund the Golf Course
      The person who posted the previous comment apparently did not read the entire article. The golf course is maintained by a not for profit corporation which leases the MWRD property. The golf course is not supported by the City of Evanston or the Village of Wilmette. The greens fees from the golf course are used to fund the grounds keeping.

      While trespassers do enter the golf course frequently, during the summer months, a ranger is on the premises to ask those who have not paid to golf to pay to golf or to leave the course.

      1. The city and MWRD gave the

        The city and MWRD gave the course the right to host non-golf events on the land.  Those non-golf events add up to more than $100k.  This is what is known in normal terms as a government concession, and it's the only thing keeping the course going.  The greens fees aren't sufficient to fund the groundskeeping.  The city would make a substantial profit by kicking the golf course out, handling tailgating tickets itself, and mowing the lawn. 

        That may not be the best idea for the land, but sanctimonious people babbling about how they provide all the money themselves need to be called out for their distortions.

        1. Off Base Criticisms

          The previous comment is factually incorrect: additional fees are paid to the MWRD for revenues generated at the golf course property from events which are unrelated to golfing. The property is leased from the MWRD, which actually owns the land, so the city does not have the sole discretion to terminate the lease. If the municipalities begin mowing the lawn, the taxpayers would end up footing the bill. Try selling that idea to your neighbors.

    2. Ranger

      Course has employed Rangers for years now, whose primary purpose is to promote paid golf, as well as encourage prompt play on the Course. During golf hours, perhaps 2% of golfers enter the course without payment, of which the majority eventually pay their fee. Volunteer Rangers training is available for interested neighbors. There is no city funding of the course, nor does the plan request city funding.

      1. Must believe in the tooth fairy

        2% !!!

        In a 1/2 hour jog around there I must see five if not more people walk on the course from streets all the way from Linden to Noyes.  I'd peg it as more like 25%.

        1. DId you pay for your jog?

          DId you drop off a check for Greens Fees while you enjoyed your jog?  

          Season pass holders (and I am one) hop on the course at any time, and call in their visit to the pro shop.  

        2. It appears that most people pay

          Living on the course I would say most people pay. As a golfer, the ranger usually passes by one or two times a round.

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