Two Chicagoland golf institutions are coming together in a big way to help continue the legacy of one of the area’s favorite golf facilities. Northbrook-based KemperSports was recently selected to manage Canal Shores Golf Course, which is located in Evanston.
The selection was made by the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association (EWGCA), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization of neighbors from Evanston and Wilmette. As part of the partnership, KemperSports will look to elevate every facet of the golf operation, improve playability and create new and dynamic pathways for local kids to experience and benefit from the game of golf. The course receives no public funds or taxpayer monies.
For nearly 100 years, the land that winds through the Evanston and Wilmette communities along both sides of the North Shore Channel from Green Bay Road to the Baha’i Temple near Wilmette Harbor has been a setting for golf. Canal Shores opened in 1919 and was designed by golf course architect Tom Bendelow, who designed three courses for the founders of the Medinah Country Club.
The course winds through a 100-year-old oak forest alongside Chicago’s “L” and Metra train tracks, traverse several road crossings and are treated to beautiful views of the Bahá’í House of Worship, which creates a golf experience unlike any other.
As part of its efforts to enhance operations and the overall golf experience at Canal Shores, KemperSports plans to improve course conditions, create a more comfortable social experience and assist in implementing an Ecological Master Plan, which began in 2017 and has already resulted in improvements that have earned the course an award from the Friends Of The Chicago River. Canal Shores has also received certification by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat and accreditation as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf.
KemperSports and the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association are committed to a shared vision that brings opportunities to local youth through golf. Canal Shores offers free, weeklong summer camps to underserved youth throughout its communities. The program focuses on introducing the game of golf and its accompanying health and social benefits to underserved players from Evanston who are new to the game and/or want continued quality instruction.
“Canal Shores is a 100-year-old community gem that offers a one-of-a-kind golf experience and plays an important role in making the game accessible to a wide range of junior golfers,” said Josh Lesnik, president of KemperSports. “If you love unique golf experiences and are visiting Chicago, Canal Shores is a must-play, especially as we improve the golf experience while preserving its undeniable charm. We could not be more excited to help ensure that this memorable and purpose-driven golf course thrives for the next 100 years.”
KemperSports builds, owns and manages golf courses, resorts, athletic clubs and lodging venues. Their facilities include nationally-ranked courses, private clubs, municipal courses and tournament venues such as Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Streamsong Resort, The Glen Club, Desert Willow Golf Resort and Chambers Bay, host of the 2015 U.S. Open.