An image from the golf course website.

It is a century old sports site that oozes history and tradition from every pore.

History notwithstanding, the aging facility in Evanston’s 7th Ward is in serious need of an overaul. Private money will take care of that.

But there is also some neighborhood concern about concerts at the location. The person in charge of booking the acts admits that there can be a “sound bleed” into the community when the musicians crank it up.

Sounds a lot like issues surrounding the proposed new Ryan Field football stadium, right?

Seems that way, but it’s not.

We’re talking about the Canal Shores Golf Course. Starting in July, the course will close several holes at a time, so that by Aug. 1, all 18 greens will be off limits to duffers, hackers, and future superstars. A $5.9 million facelift will get the 103-year-old facility ready to last another century.

Golf Club president Matt Rooney told a 7th Ward citizens meeting on Wednesday night that Canal Shores is basically in an “end of life” state, as golf courses go, with “14 of 18 greens deemed unsustainable.”

But besides changing the layout of some fairways, fixing the greens, and removing some deteriorating trees., Canal Shores also plans to add a mission.

Rooney said the course will “aim for a broader audience with a focus on youth.”

Matt Rooney, Board President of Canal Shores Golf Club, at 7th Ward meeting Wednesday night at the Civic Center.

The goal, he said, is “to enable a diverse local population” to learn and enjoy the game, and, in the case of some of the youngsters, get a job, and maybe a college scholarship.

The renovated Canal Shores will bring in an organization called First Tee Golf, which, Rooney said, “teaches life skills through golf.”

The group runs caddy schools, but it’s far more than just lugging bags. Kids learn not only the art of caddying, but also how to play golf as well.

Participants can then caddy local courses, earning money, and the chance to get a free ride to college with what’s called an Evans Scholarship, tuition provided specifically for kids who caddied.

The late “Chick” Evans was an outstanding amateur golfer and Northwestern University student, who helped create the scholarship program named in his honor.

Those behind the fix-up at Canal Shores hope that future Evans Scholars will come right out of this course.

The renovated Shores will even have holes 17A and 17B, so that experienced golfers can play through if a kids’ golf class is in session.

Doug Myslinksi, whose company will build the new course, said he’s “never seen a golf course that has the community impact that Canal Shores has.”

As for the music, the Out of Space concert series returns from July 27-30 at the course.

An outdoor extension of the Space venue on Chicago Avenue, crowds have averaged from 2,000 to 3,500 per show, according to talent booker Jake Samuels.

Out of Space began in 2018.

Samuels said sound is monitored.

“There is always a push-pull,” he noted, “between the performers and the community.”

Samuels said he always “lets the artists know they’re in a residential neighborhood.”

The shows start at 5 p.m. and end by 10, and Samuels said “we’ve tried our best to minimize the sound and the traffic.”

He said concert information will be provided to those who live nearby.

While some may always complain no matter what, Samuels said “we’ll work to win over the remainder.”

Once the last roadie has packed up the concert gear, Canal Shores will close for renovation, with reopening targeted for summer 2024.

Fundraising is still ongoing. Rooney said $4.4 million of the $5.9 million needed is already on hand.

Because grading, dredging and planting will be under way to rebuild the golf course, there will be no football parking at Canal Shores for the 2023 season.

There’s also none planned for 2024, which, of course, will be moot if Northwestern’s plan to rebuild Ryan Field is approved by City Council.

If council says “yes,” Northwestern will play somewhere else in 2024 and 2025 while the current football field is demolished and the new one is built.

That “somewhere else,” is still undecided, as is where to park.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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