Groundbreaking for Canal Shores 2nd Century

June 1 marked the beginning of the month for ‘Dads & Grads’; that date also marked the beginning of meteorological summer. June 1, 2023 was also the date of the groundbreaking ceremony at Canal Shores Golf Course kicking off a project called “Canal Shores 2nd Century Campaign” with the purpose of ‘preserving a cherished course, and providing a path for local kids’.

After 100+ years, the turf and infrastructure of Canal Shores Golf Course, according to the USGA Green Section and irrigation engineers, is in an “end of life” state. The Canal Shores Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers have worked hard for years to “apply another coat of paint to an old house,” but for this cherished course to survive and still be a vital part of the combined communities, massive renovation was needed.

The Canal Shores board stated “With 100% private funding, we will renovate the course beginning in June with reimagined space for beginning and seasoned golfers, a youth development training center and a Caddie Academy which will create jobs and college scholarship opportunities. Planned reopening is July 2024. We’re excited to partner with these renowned and accomplished organizations to help us build for the future: Western Golf Association/Evans Scholars Foundation, The First Tee – Greater Chicago, Quitno Golf Designs, Wadsworth Construction, and KemperSports.”

Canal Shores Donors

Canal Shores Donors

In 1916 golf professional and community civic leader, Peter N. Jans, gathered together a group of interested community leaders, who all championed the idea of creating a local golf course that north suburban caddies and Evanston-area residents could access and afford. The course was built during 1919 on the site of the previous location of the (private) Evanston Golf Club, which relocated due to the construction of the North Shore Channel drainage project.

Originally named the Evanston-Wilmette Community Golf Course, the 82-acre, short 18-hole course is built on public property located in neighborhoods on the east side of Evanston and Wilmette, Illinois on the banks of the North Shore Channel of the Chicago River. Eleven of the holes are located in Evanston, and 7 holes are in Wilmette.

Following the passing of Peter N. Jans in 1958, the course was renamed in his honor. Another alteration to the course’s name occurred in 2008, when it became known as the ‘Frank Govern Memorial Golf Course’, in honor of the selfless head professional, manager, and curator of the course for over 35 years. During the winter months of 2012-2013 the name changed once again to the present title of ‘Canal Shores Golf Course’.

In early 2022, Northbrook-based KemperSports took over management of the Canal Shores Golf Course in Evanston, which had previously been managed by the nonprofit Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association.

Matt Rooney and Josh Lesnik

Matt Rooney and Josh Lesnik

At the June 1, 2023 groundbreaking ceremony, emcee Josh Lesnik of KemperSports noted how this project is truly a community effort, and that was evident in the support which the groundbreaking festivities received. Representatives from KemperSports, Wadsworth Golf Construction Company, the Chicago District Golf Association, local municipalities, Northwestern University, the Western Golf Association, the First Tee-Greater Chicago, and course architect Todd Quitno were in attendance.

The generosity of these organizations plus donations from private citizens have combined to raise more than $4 million of the $5.9 million goal of the “Canal Shores 2nd Century” campaign. For more details of this important project, visit

Canal Shores is conveniently located at 1030 Central Street, Evanston; next to the Central Street El, just blocks away from the Central Street Metra stop. Free parking also available.


Greg Miles

Greg Miles has been a writer following golf in Chicago since 1990. For the past 30 years he has been a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and currently is classified as a GWAA "Life Member". He played his first round of golf on his 11th birthday, and since then has played more than 7,300 rounds of golf in his lifetime at 517 different courses. He has interviewed more than 280 golfers across all the professional tours along with famous celebrity golfers. Additionally, he is a member of several other competitive and honorary golf associations, as well as the Golf Nut Society.

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