A whole lot has and is happening in the Chicago area golf scene.
First, Golfsmith closed all its stores and almost all the independents have closed as well. Klees Golf Shop on the south side and Ace Pro Shop on the northwest side are the last golf shops standing in 2017, seven years after the Great Recession ended.
Interestingly, Klees Golf Shop was the only pro shop on the south side still in business seven years after the Great Depression ended in 1946. Sheer determination, sacrifice and outside income made that possible then and today.
Second, the verbal rumblings about merging South Shore Golf Course and Jackson Park Golf Course may actually become machinery rumbling by the end of this year, along with the construction of the President Obama Library. This is no easy task and there will be lots of people watching to make sure Jackson Park, a Frederick Law Olmsted creation, is not materially altered as a result.
Third, First Tee is getting the financing and publicity needed to make this program a possible game changer in the youth entertainment sector. The USGA and PGA are understandably worried about the drop in golf rounds played by Gen Xers and Millenials, who do not have the time, interest or money their parents had (and still have) to play golf.
But, Gen Xers and Millenials are getting married and having children who need something to do, which is wholesome, competitive and even outdoors. Golf fits the bill. Let's hope First Tee is successful.
We'll keep you updated.