Golf Courses and Access to Jackson Park and to the South Shore Cultural Center

Jackson Park:South Shore Cultural Center Access #018
Access to Jackson Park and to the South Shore Cultural Center from the South Shore neighborhood is at best mediated by and at worst denied by the presence of the Jackson Park and South Shore Golf Courses and the fences erected along significant stretches of their borders. “Well, of course,” one might respond, “they are golf courses,” but is this response a product of thinking critically about the effects of urban golf courses on their host neighborhoods or merely a response habituated by how we routinely imagine golf courses in the American landscape?

My purpose in posing this question is not to formulate an argument for getting rid of the Jackson Park or South Shore Golf Courses, nor is it a rally cry against their proposed replacement, the so-called Tiger Woods golf course put forward by the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance. I pose the question because I think there must be a way through design to integrate the life of a neighborhood into the life of a golf course that the neighborhood hosts. Urban public golf courses should be accessible visually and in some significant and meaningful ways physically to people who live in adjoining neighborhoods, including people who don’t play golf.

This short photo essay is about the current boundary between the South Shore neighborhood and the extant South Shore and Jackson Park golf courses. The photo above shows a chain link fence that serves as the boundary between the South Shore Golf Course and the sidewalk that runs along the east side of South South Shore Drive from East 67th Street to East 71st Street.

Jackson Park:South Shore Cultural Center Access #019
A golfer on the 3rd Hole of the South Shore Golf Course as photographed through the chain link fence that serves as the boundary between the course and the sidewalk that runs along the east side of South South Shore Drive from East 67th Street to East 71st Street.
Jackson Park:South Shore Cultural Center Access #013
A pedestrian walks north on the sidewalk on the east side of South Jeffrey Avenue past Hole 7 of the Jackson Park Golf Course.
Jackson Park:South Shore Cultural Center Access #004
A view from the playground on the north side of 67th Street between South East End and South Ridgeland Avenues through the chain link fence that separates the playground from the 5th Hole of the Jackson Park Golf Course.
Jackson Park:South Shore Cultural Center Access #011
A girl plays in the playground on the north side of 67th Street between South East End and South Ridgeland Avenues. The playground is separated from the 5th Hole of the Jackson Park Golf Course by a chain link fence that serves as the boundary between Jackson Park and the sidewalk that runs along the north side 67th Street from South Cornell Drive to South South Shore Drive.

I suppose a place to leave this essay is with a set of questions. What is the purpose of the fence bordering many parts, but not all parts, of the Jackson Park and South Shore Golf Courses? Is it there to keep golf balls within the confines of the golf courses or is it there to keep people out of the golf courses? And finally, can the real needs of the golf courses or their proposed Tiger Woods replacement be met through a design that allows visual and physical accessibility to people who live in adjoining neighborhoods, but who don’t play golf?

 

One thought on “Golf Courses and Access to Jackson Park and to the South Shore Cultural Center

  1. The general purpose of the fences is for both of the reasons the author mentions – keep golf balls and golf carts in, and keep people out (who didn’t pay the greens fees to use the course). First part is mostly a matter of safety for pedestrians and vehicles. Second part is mostly a matter of economics, same as any other sports venue which charges admission. People who don’t buy tickets to baseball, basketball, football, etc. are not admitted to the stadiums. In golf, it could cause an even bigger problem if people ‘walk on’ without paying, because only about 80 players can be on the course at a given time. Also people walking across the golf course when not necessary would tend to damage the course and therefore raise the cost of maintenance. The section of fence running along the west side of South Shore is pretty much necessary, because the route running along it is part of the Lakefront Path. Since the the third and fourth holes play from north-to-south, and most errant golf balls from bad shots by right-handed golfers are slices toward the right. Chain-link fence is visually unattractive, but perhaps it is the most economical compromise between visibility of the course landscape and containment. In the case of Jackson Park golf course, it’s more debatable why certain fences were constructed in certain areas. Another good point raised by the author is the construction of a new elitist luxury course would make these same issues more divisive and exclusive. More like a ‘fortress’ mentality to separate the rich from the poor.

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