Golf Course Concept Engagement

River Oaks Golf Course overhead taken from a drone
River Oaks Golf Course.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County is conducting a study and planning process for three golf courses—Edgebrook Golf Course in Chicago, Burnham Woods Golf Course in Burnham, and River Oaks Golf Course in Calumet City—to evaluate current golf course conditions and develop concepts for future site improvements.

On this page:


About the Project

The purpose of this Golf Course Concept Engagement project is to:

  • Analyze the potential to improve the existing golf courses.
  • Explore other site improvements, including connections to adjacent natural areas or enhancements to nature-based recreational opportunities.
  • Gather visitor feedback about how these sites could best serve the surrounding communities and Cook County residents.

This project will produce a site concept plan for each course that illustrates a variety of alternative site layouts and designs. These concept plans will show design elements as suggested by the community and stakeholder groups, which could include physical improvements such as pathways, recreational amenities, facilities, and landscaping.

The project will also include a comprehensive and inclusive community engagement process, with public workshops at key points in the project. Community input is critical to helping the project design team understand the existing conditions and the community’s desires for future improvements.


Why These Courses?

The Forest Preserves of Cook County operates 11 golf facilities, each with its own history, customer base, and mix of amenities. Currently, there are eight 18-hole courses, two 9-hole courses, and one standalone driving range. These facilities are generally older, with some dating back to the 1920s. The newest facility was added in 1980, meaning that all facilities are more than 35 years old.

As Edgebrook Golf Course, Burnham Woods Golf Course, and River Oaks Golf Course have aged, and recreational preferences have changed, the courses face a variety of challenges and opportunities that this process aims to understand and explore.

Challenges

  • The selected courses are costly to maintain at their current condition and quality.
  • These courses need significant investment in infrastructure to improve playability and golf experience.
  • These courses are located along rivers, and the majority of the sites are located within the regulatory floodplain and floodway. They face frequent flooding, and even with capital infrastructure improvements, it is anticipated that flooding will continue to occur at each site to some degree.
  • These courses are considered “mid-tier” courses in terms of design, play time, and price point, and have continued to face growing competition within their respective sub-markets.

Opportunities

  • These sites have the potential to serve a broader population through improved nature-based recreational opportunities at each site.
  • These sites are close to other open spaces and forest preserves, presenting an opportunity to create connections to surrounding natural areas.
  • The COVID-19 global pandemic has caused a renewed interest in golf and outdoor recreation. Assuming this trend continues, these sites provide an opportunity to implement strategic improvements that attract new and returning golfers.

Project Timeline

  • August – October 2021: Data Gathering                              
  • October – November 2021: Concept Development
  • November 2021 – January 2022: Action Plan                                      

How to Get Involved

This project aims to determine the best uses for Edgebrook Golf Course, Burnham Woods Golf Course, and River Oaks Golf Course, and community input and engagement is critical to realizing this goal. We welcome you to provide feedback and contribute ideas for this project. There are four ways to participate and provide feedback during the planning process:

Your feedback will:

  • Inform the planning team’s understanding of each site’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and constraints.
  • Guide the design team as they develop concepts for each site.
  • Provide insight into who we’ve engaged, so we can determine how we need to expand our outreach efforts to engage underrepresented voices.

Workshop Schedule

Edgebrook Golf Course

Workshop #1: September 21 on Zoom

Workshop #2:
When: Wednesday, October 27 from 6 to 7:30 pm
Where: Mathew Bieszczat Volunteer Resource Center (6100 N Central Ave, Chicago, IL 60646) and livestreamed on Zoom

Workshop #3:
When: Saturday, December 4 from 10 am to 1 pm
Where: Mathew Bieszczat Volunteer Resource Center (6100 N Central Ave, Chicago, IL 60646) and livestreamed on Zoom


River Oaks Golf Course and Burnham Woods Golf Course

Workshop #1: September 22 on Zoom

Workshop #2:
When: Tuesday, October 26 from 6 to 7:30 pm
Where: Sand Ridge Nature Center (15891 Paxton Ave, South Holland, IL 60473 and livestreamed on Zoom

Workshop #3:
When: Saturday, December 4 from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Where: Sand Ridge Nature Center (15891 Paxton Ave, South Holland, IL 60473 and livestreamed on Zoom


We will continue to monitor the CDC’s COVID-19 requirements and recommendations for in-person gatherings to plan meetings. When you register for the public workshops, you will be asked to provide your zip code and identify how you found out about these workshops. This information will be used to evaluate our engagement process and identify who we are or are not reaching. We appreciate you providing this information, as it is critical in achieving our goal of a diverse and inclusive engagement process.