CHICAGO (CBS) — Tiger Woods’ thrilling victory, his fifth Masters’ championship, brought back thoughts about Tiger’s Chicago connection: His plan is to unite Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses into a rigorous championship level course.
The ambitious plans were rolled out back in 2017 and still face financial and political hurdles. But supporters believe Woods’ big victory and his re-emergence into the spotlight can only give the plan a big boost.
When Wood sunk the hole that won him a one-stroke Masters victory, few were more excited than Tracy Raoul.
“And I’m still very excited as I’m wearing my red and black in honor,” said Raoul, vice chair of the Jackson Park Golf Association, an enthusiastic backer of the $60 million plan to join the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses into one par 70 championship course, designed by Tiger Woods.
“To build a public golf course in Chicago, it’s a good as it gets,” said Woods. “You can see the skyline. Soldier Field is right down the road. It’s truly amazing.”
When asked if Woods’ victory gives a shot in the arm for the project, Raoul said she’s hopeful.
“I think just the fact Woods wants to restore the courses, which are over 100 years old, they are in need of restoration,” she said.
Some visionaries link the Obama Presidential Center with the golf course renovation, as dual elements to uplift Jackson Park, Woodlawn and South Shore.
But the biggest roadblock seems to be money: $30 million in tax dollars would be needed just to build three underpasses so golfers won’t have to cross roadways.
“For me, growing up on a public golf course was instrumental in me getting the experience to compete and play,” Tiger said.
That’s the allure. But there’s also this political reality: While the project was a favorite of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot may not be so enthusiastic.
“I think she’s very open minded. I think that she would be willing to learn more, if nothing else. I think she’d be willing to ask questions of the people that are involved,” Raoul said.
Where do things stand now?
The Chicago Park District confirmed that private fundraising is underway but won’t say how much has been raised.
Park district CEO Mike Kelly once talked about opening the combined course, the renovated course, in 2020. But CBS 2 has been told there is no official timeline.