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Mike_Young

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Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« on: August 02, 2017, 07:40:08 AM »
The Pellucid Report this month, Jim Dunlap has a very good article in their "Outside The Ropes" section. This seems to be happening in many places around the world today....

In the midst of the continued industry supply contraction pattern, there are still new developments in planning or under construction.  What's interesting to follow are the characteristics of the new supply that's being created and what unmet needs or underserved markets they're addressing.  In a number of cases, they're "moonshots" for resorts in remote locations trying to capture the lightening-in-a-bottle of Bandon Dunes or Whistling Straits (think Cabot Links or Streamsong).  While there's more dispersion within the public access facilities across the Premium-Value-Price spectrum than back in the BCD days (Build a Course a Day), the current developments moving forward still have a noticeable "tilt" to the value-added (Premium and Value) vs. the value grouping (Price and Learning & Practice).
 
 Against this backdrop, occasionally there comes wind of a course that seeks to transcend current market forces, span the differences between Premium and Price golf experiences and be a catalyst for economic growth for its community.  While that makes a wonderful vision statement, history suggests that it's likely a bridge too far for a single golf course in a US major metro market to achieve.  Against this reality proceeds the conversation of a Tiger Woods-designed course on the south side of Chicago by repurposing land currently occupied by the Jackson Park and South Shore municipal golf courses.  In this issue I'll outline why I believe that, while on paper it's a wonderful strategy and it could be operationally tortured to be reasonably developed and maintained, the odds of it being financially viable beyond the first two years of operation are somewhere between slim and nil:
 
  • What is the basic premise and intent behind this Cinderella story of a proposal to bring a championship golf experience to the masses on the south side of Chicago?
  • Have we as an industry attempted anything similar in the past, how did it work, and what were the learnings?
  • Are there more intelligent options for using golf as a catalyst for social engineering that have lower risk and higher chance of success?
Those who know me (or have read my work) know that I rarely ask questions to which I don't believe I know the answer.  So, as a preview, the answer to the beginning of questions 2 and 3 above are "yes" and "yes."  While I would love to believe in a world where the "right golf course" could advance the cause of social justice and promote more equitable income distribution, the more realistic answer is that we'll have to do that with our existing supply, owner/operators and creative programming while still recognizing and respecting the forces of market conditions, the consumer base and fundamental economics (profit & loss).  I think there's a way but this proposal being advanced and reviewed isn't it.
"just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona"

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2017, 08:16:39 AM »
The other examples that come to the top of my head for new or improved courses in poorer neighborhoods are East Lake, Dallas National, and Trinity Forest.  Does anyone know how these have improved their respective neighborhoods?  None is exactly affordable golf..........
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Ian Mackenzie

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2017, 08:50:13 AM »


That is EXACTLY what was said before the renovation of Harding Park in San Francisco. That already happened. Please look into the results there. If you were an SF resident, it used to cost $25 to play. You can see the Olympic Club from holes 16-18.

Look here first, Mike: https://tpc.com/hardingpark/resident-program/

https://tpc.com/hardingpark/current-rates/

$30 at Jackson Park today - a goat pasture...;-)
$68 at Harding Park where the President's Cup is played.....for RESIDENTS.

Before offering such editorials, perhaps you should endeavor to answer your own questions.

First, the most obvious:

"What is the basic premise and intent behind this Cinderella story of a proposal to bring a championship golf experience to the masses on the south side of Chicago?"


I can speak directly to this because I am a golfer who lives in the city of Chicago. I also lived in San Fran when the Harding Park project commenced.

The intent is NOT to bring golf specifically to the masses on the south side any more than building the Museum of Science and Industry (Jackson Park's neighbor) was an attempt to bring science in a museum form solely to south side residents.

If you live in the city of Chicago and want to play 18 holes, you need to get in your car and drive 30-60 minutes. When I say "30", that's misleading as there is only one PUBLIC course - Harborside - in that window. Hey, OMFG, it's ALSO on the south side!! (Well, there is actually Canal Shores, too...;-)

When I was in my 20's and wanted to play with 3 buddies, we had to get in the car and take the better part of an entire day to play golf. Sure, there are 2-3 nine hole courses in the city. But they are beat up, over-crowded and take 2:30 to play. You used to be able to buy tee times on Ticket Master I kid you not.


This is the 3rd largest city in N. America. There are tens of thousands of golfers in the city who do not have a place to play in their own backyard. So, the public-access player must get on Chicago's miserable highways in order to drive 45-60 minutes and give the $200-$400 of revenue to some suburban  course then return to the city and PRAY you do not face horrible traffic that turns your 45 minute drive into 90 minutes. My son and his three buddies did this on Sunday.


1. So, Mike, the business premise and case for the course - on the surface - are quite sound.

2. The "industry" attempted and succeeded at Harding Park in SF.
3. Social engineering question...? Not sure I understand where you are coming from.
Now, it may never get done for myriad other reasons that you do not cite: environmental issues, city politics, etc.
But, if it ever gets done, the tee sheet will be busy.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 08:54:49 AM by Ian Mackenzie »

Bill Shamleffer

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2017, 09:10:27 AM »
Interesting points.


I have no knowledge of the current courses in Jackson Park.
Are these course currently reasonably priced, and well utilized by a cross-section of this area and the great Chicago area?


I would hate to see a massive investment that causes a well used and moderately priced muni, to then become an expensive course, that causes the old clientele to have limited ability to use their old regular golf course.


About 20 years ago St. Louis began making plans for a grand reinvestment into its primary city park - Forest Park.  The park included a 27 hole golf course that was a great bargain, well used by all parts of population of St. Louis, and a fun course with some challenging holes on the primary 18 (and a very boring 9 hole course).  the conditions were not very good, but you got your money's worth.  Play could be slow, but if you were willing to play early or off-hours it was fine.


One of the aspects of the overall park renovation was a major upgrade of the golf facilities.  They created a new clubhouse/pro-shop at the other end of the course.  This allowed 3 different 9-hole loops that began and ended near the clubhouse.
The course conditions were upgraded, some holes were left the same (some of the best fortunately), and others were changed are completely re-done.


It is not a championship caliber course, but is a very good muni, for a good price (current standard weekday rate is $40 for 18 with cart).  Also, the new club house upgrade has resulted in a facility that is now not only used for group and charity golf functions, but is also even popular for wedding receptions and other similar functions.  Thus creating a profit center all year long.


I would much prefer to see the Jackson Park course re-do follow this modal, rather than create a course that abandons almost all of its current regular users, and results in one less option for an intro to newer golfers (especially ones with limited discretionary incomes for recreational use).


One of the unexpected off-shoots is that another separate golf course at the other side of Forest Park, has since then also been upgraded - with a driving range & practice facility added; and now also used for a First-Tee Program.  This other course used to be called Triple A, and back in the 1950s-1970s was a combination golf-club/tennis-club with memberships available at very reasonable rates.  When Judy Rankin was growing-up in St. Louis, she began her golfing life at this little course.
“The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet.”  Damon Runyon

Steve Lang

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2017, 09:18:46 AM »
 8)  Is golf course development really an "industry"?  Sure it takes thought & hard work... sure it converts soil forms and adds wood, steel, glass, concrete, and paving where none may have existed and makes civil improvements... but an economic engine, for whom?
Inverness (Toledo, OH) cathedral clock inscription: "God measures men by what they are. Not what they in wealth possess.  That vibrant message chimes afar.
The voice of Inverness"

Bill Shamleffer

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2017, 09:19:43 AM »
Ian adds some additional factors that he posted while I was typing my response.


Based on his description of an extreme lack of any public golf options for many many miles, the Harding Park model may be what is needed.  The recent change of Ravisloe from private to public may have created one solution to this problem.  And perhaps the way the market demand for private golf clubs is changing, there might be a few more privates going public in the Chicago area in the next 10-15 years.


It would be nice for the city to draw more people into spending their time & $ within the City of Chicago.  But how do we balance that with not taking away golf opportunities to the current users who may be maxed out on how much they can afford to spend on leisure activities (like golf).
“The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet.”  Damon Runyon

Terry Lavin

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2017, 09:28:09 AM »
Let's not forget that the genesis for this project is the desire of a bunch of one percenters who want to raise tens of millions of dollars to help the project to succeed. In the main, they are not of the same political philosophy as President Obama, whose library would hover over the 18th hole.


They are motivated to change young lives through a subsidized caddie program. The Evans Scholars Foundation would house their Caddie Academy there. Residents would get a steep discount.


In sum, there are some well meaning folks who are trying to do some good. That won't stop special interests and cynics from lifting a metaphorical leg to piss on the project. It's easier, after all, to lob a grenade than to dig in and work.
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.  H.L. Mencken

Bruce Katona

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2017, 10:40:37 AM »
I don't live in Chicago.


If the goal of the project is social engineering, then someone from the group leading this effort should spend some time chatting with the folks operating the !st Tee program at Mosholu Golf Course in The Bronx.  These folks have implemented a very successful life/golf learning program and would likely share their "to-do's and don't do's with any really organized well-funded group looking to replicate this model in another location.


Since I don't know the market depth/demographics of and for public golf in the Chicago MSA, I won't opine if a "Harding Park/Ferry Point" public golf model will work; I'll leave that up to the folks who reside there.


BK 

Josh Tarble

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2017, 10:44:32 AM »
The other examples that come to the top of my head for new or improved courses in poorer neighborhoods are East Lake, Dallas National, and Trinity Forest.  Does anyone know how these have improved their respective neighborhoods?  None is exactly affordable golf..........


The transformation around East Lake has been incredible.  I know they've built a school with golf in every students' curriculum and have built grocery stores and other basic amenities in the area.  I'm believe it's all part of the corporate membership program but also the Tour Championship.

Tim_Cronin

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2017, 11:42:50 AM »
There are six courses in Chicago run by the Chicago Park District. Jackson Park, the only 18, is the third most popular. South Shore is the fifth most popular.


There are also four other courses open to the public run by other government entities, the two-course Harborside International, run by the International Port District, on the South Side and Indian Boundary and Edgebrook, run by the Cook County Forest Preserve District, on the North Side.


That makes 10 public courses within the city llmits. So a city resident doesn't have to go to the suburbs to play, though many do.



Billy Casper Golf actually operates all but Harborside, which is operated by KemperSports.
The website: www.illinoisgolfer.net
On Twitter: @illinoisgolfer

Mike Sweeney

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2017, 11:53:52 AM »
  I think there's a way but this proposal being advanced and reviewed isn't it.


Mike Young,


I know these were the authors words and not yours.


I prefer to hear from people that can:


  • add to and improve an idea
  • propose an alternate idea
"Isn't it" is an intellectually weak proposal. Maybe there was more to the story that you did not post.


From the sidelines, the Chicago proposal sounds pretty good to me.
"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us."

Dr. Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Mike_Young

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2017, 12:06:55 PM »
Hey dudes...I just posted what I thought was a good article on the subject.  My personal opinion is that we now try to hype any golf experience so much over what was happening back when golf was growing in the 70's etc.  You don't need the Billboard name of Tiger Woods to build something that will let the people of Chicago have a good reasonable public golf experience and if it is there for some big PGA tour then it will be difficult for a person to learn to play there.  These types of projects go on all over the world with the big names etc and most don't even get 8000 rounds per year and are just there for hotels or hype...In the article hementione reworking exisitng inventory to make the game work...he's right but that doesn't sell magazines etc...we still got too much smoke and mirrors in the stuff...
"just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona"

Mike_Young

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2017, 12:09:14 PM »
  I think there's a way but this proposal being advanced and reviewed isn't it.


Mike Young,


I know these were the authors words and not yours.


I prefer to hear from people that can:


  • add to and improve an idea
  • propose an alternate idea
"Isn't it" is an intellectually weak proposal. Maybe there was more to the story that you did not post.


From the sidelines, the Chicago proposal sounds pretty good to me.

Mike,
There is much more that I did not post.  Go the pellucid site and see what you can drag down...I consider them the most legit at telling you how it is int ehbusiness without much hype.  I subscribe and I'm not sure if you can read the rest on line or not...
"just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona"

Kalen Braley

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2017, 12:12:11 PM »
Ive always had mixed feelings on Urban golf.  Yes its cool, and provides much needed green space, but seems to come with awfully high opportunity costs.


And I'm referring to the big urban areas, not medium size ones like Salt Lake.

Jeff Taylor

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2017, 12:22:29 PM »
"While I would love to believe in a world where the "right golf course" could advance the cause of social justice and promote more equitable income distribution,"

Really? How about enjoying the game on it's own terms. Not everything is a vehicle for social justice (whatever that means) and or dealing with income inequality (as if that were a problem anyway).
« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 12:24:29 PM by Jeff Taylor »

Sean_A

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2017, 12:50:56 PM »
  I think there's a way but this proposal being advanced and reviewed isn't it.


Mike Young,


I know these were the authors words and not yours.


I prefer to hear from people that can:


  • add to and improve an idea
  • propose an alternate idea
"Isn't it" is an intellectually weak proposal. Maybe there was more to the story that you did not post.


From the sidelines, the Chicago proposal sounds pretty good to me.


It depends on where the money is coming from, how the proposal impacts the neighbourhood and on other reasonable alternatives (maybe not even associated with golf).  I really question whether public bodies should be getting involved in high-end public golf unless there is a strong partership and investment from private sources, the business model sees the place making money which can be used to enhance other public amenities and the local market is not priced out of the market. 


Ciao   
New plays planned for 2024: Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Blackmoor, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend & Alnmouth

Tim Gavrich

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2017, 10:46:16 AM »
"While I would love to believe in a world where the "right golf course" could advance the cause of social justice and promote more equitable income distribution,"

Really? How about enjoying the game on it's own terms. Not everything is a vehicle for social justice (whatever that means) and or dealing with income inequality (as if that were a problem anyway).
One main feature of golf that people seem to like is the way in which it promotes many of the virtues of life at large: integrity, perseverance, humility, etc. Why couldn't or shouldn't people see golf as a potential way to improve society? I don't see how that's a radical or unpleasant desire.
Senior Writer, GolfPass

Ian Mackenzie

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2017, 11:54:52 AM »
Chicago built one of the most incredible urban landscapes in the world that drew from over $250M in private funding.
Millennium Park is stunning.


But, it is Chicago and the place is corrupt and people did go to jail: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-millennium-park-costs-met-20140714-story.html


The point, however, is that there will be private funding for this ambitious golf project, but the city will do its best to screw it up.

Paul OConnor

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Re: Golf Course Development Meets Social Engineering in Chicago
« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2017, 12:19:31 PM »
"1. So, Mike, the business premise and case for the course - on the surface - are quite sound.
2. The "industry" attempted and succeeded at Harding Park in SF.
3. Social engineering question...? Not sure I understand where you are coming from.
Now, it may never get done for myriad other reasons that you do not cite: environmental issues, city politics, etc.
But, if it ever gets done, the tee sheet will be busy."

Ian,

The proposed Jackson Park-South Shore golf course has some significant differences with the work done in San Francisco on Harding Park.
 
First, the Harding Park course had hosted a PGA event for many years in the 1960’s, at that time it was a ~6,700 layout that was stretched to ~7,200 after the renovation.  So this renovation started with a near PGA caliber layout on a contiguous piece of property, obviously in poor condition, but the bones were certainly there.
 
JP-SS is not even a complete course yet, and will require mountains more in terms of infrastructure to complete.  Roadways, underpasses, overpasses, shoreline stabilization, all required before a single dollar is spent on the golf.  The two projects scopes are so different that direct comparisons are somewhat meaningless.   
 
What can be clearly compared are the initial costs.  JP-SS construction totals now seem likely to be 3-4 times the $16 million HP expense with all the required infrastructure costs included.  How those costs are funded, and the expense of servicing any debt associated with them may largely determine the financial viability of the project.  There has been a fair amount of hand waving by both CPD and CPGA when it comes to the projects financial projections and a conspicuous lack of any hard analysis.  While I agree that the new course if built will have a full tee sheet, whether it is a profitable project remains to be seen.

 
Second, the money for the HP course renovation was ultimately public money that came from the State of California under Prop 12.  Many of the arguments made in SF then over the privatization of HP are the same as voices in Chicago today.  This argument ceases when the money is public.  The potential or perceived conflicts of interest between a public asset and private oversight or direct control of that asset disappear when the financing is public.
 
The ongoing debate in Chicago, led by FOTP, is over the role private funding has in determining the future design, use, and access to public assets, and specifically public parks.  The failed Lucas Museum project is one example of private money in public spaces.  In the Jackson-Midway-Washington Parks corridor there is another private group called Project 120, that has inserted itself into the parks development process.  The starving of the Chicago Park District of adequate funding has created an opening for these types of groups to appear as private saviors.  The local residents are justifiably suspicious of the motives and intentions of these groups who have largely operated outside the normal CPD channels, bypassing much of the required regulatory oversight and local input that community groups feel is necessary.   Mayor Emanuel and other city leaders have embraced these groups, their money, and their ability to circumvent statutory due process procedures. 
 
Unfortunately, the golf course is just a small part of this much broader discussion about parks privatization, the future of Jackson and Washington Parks, the Obama Library, public transportation, and overall south side economic development.  As much as the CPGA folks would like to slice off their piece of this pie and do their own thing, all these other issues are wrapped up together with the golf course. 
 
Ultimately, I’m not convinced that the CPGA’s project really intends or cares to accomplish much social engineering.  It seems more likely that the group’s happy PR chatter of community development, investment, and local job creation is nothing more than politically correct marketing intended to get those community members not already on board to embrace this project. 
 

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