Journey Along the Shores – Part 13 (4 Course Concept Revisited)

Our Lead Architect David Zinkand has completed his Preliminary Design of the new Canal Shores (below), bringing to life the 4 Course Concept that we have been discussing.  It has certainly come a long way since the idea’s inception.

This design is considered preliminary, rather than final, for several reasons:

  1. We are committed to continuing to gather public and industry expert feedback.  The best ideas will win.
  2. We still need to compile comprehensive details for our Master Plan in order that MWRD, The City of Evanston, the Village of Wilmette, and our Board can consider it for approval.
  3. We leave open the possibility of tweaking details of the design during implementation if there is potential for a better outcome “on the ground”.

Given the innovative nature of the 4 Course Concept, let’s take a moment to address potential points of confusion.

What are we doing to the course?

First, to be clear, we are NOT proposing replacing the existing 18-hole course with a 12-hole course plus practice areas.  What we are proposing is a transformation of the facility into 4 courses totaling 41 holes where players of all ages and skill levels can learn and enjoy the game through playing the game.

Who can use the courses?

The entire facility will be open to the public, at reasonable rates.  However, as is the case now, each of the courses will likely be closed on certain days at certain times for events, leagues, outings, teams, clinics, and/or camps.  By changing from 1 course to 4, we believe that Canal Shores will be better structured to handle these groups while still providing an enjoyable venue for daily players.

What are the 4 courses?

Before getting to the descriptions, Dave’s completed preliminary design.


Note that this design does not include non-golf components, such as paths, pocket parks, and habitat areas.  We will soon have an interactive version of the design with all components displayed together.  For now though, back to the 4 courses – on the map from north to south, they are:

The Jans Course (labeled as “12 Hole Course” above) will occupy the area north of Central.  It is intended to be a 12-hole executive course of par-3s and par-4s, with design inspiration taken from classic Chicagoland golf architecture.  The course is designed for players of moderate to advanced skill, and will be laid out in a clockwise loop.  It also includes inner loops that allow for flexible play.  If space allows, we also intend to have a putting green and hitting bays for warm-up.





The Kids Links (labeled as “Youth Links & Practice Facility”) will be located between Central and Lincoln.  It will include a 5-hole short course as well as a driving range, putting and chipping greens designed specifically for kids.  This spot has been chosen for the Kids Links because it is self-contained and safely adjacent to the clubhouse.


The Rolling Green putting course (labeled as “Rolling Green”) will be located south of Lincoln, next to Leahy Park.  This 18-hole course will cover 25,000 square feet and include exciting contours and mounds to navigate.  This is not intended to be used as a putting green for practice – it is intended to be played by players of all skill levels and ages.

The Back Lot (labeled as “6 Hole Multi-directional Play & Practice Area”), to be located south of the Rolling Green, will be a 6-hole par-3 course for the public.  It will also serve at times as a highly dynamic and challenging practice course for advanced players.


This concept, coupled with Dave’s shaping talent, will result in our community having the most unique and interesting golf facility on the planet.  Players can come each day and, based on their time and preference, choose their own golf adventure.  And even better, that adventure will be different and fun every time – in the very best spirit of the game.

What about playing 18 holes?

From my perspective, the 18-hole format is artificial and in no way fundamental to the enjoyment of the game of golf.  For more on the history of the 18-hole format, visit

However, we understand that there are players who get satisfaction out of completing 18 holes.  Our 4 Course Concept actually allows players several ways that they CAN play 18 holes, if that is their hearts’ desire:

  • They can play the 18-hole Rolling Green Putting Course.
  • They can play the Jans Course full loop, and then replay the inner 6 hole loop (12+6=18).  Dave purposely designed the Jans Course that way.
  • At some times, they will be able to play the Jans Course, and then the Back Lot Short Course (12+6=18).
  • At other times, they can play the Back Lot Short Course three times (6+6+6=18).
  • At other times, they can play the Kids Links with their kids, then the inner 4 hole loop on the Jans Course, and then close it out on the first half of the Rolling Green (5+4+9=18).

You get where I’m headed here.  At the new Canal Shores, the answer to anyone who says “I want to play 18 holes” is, “Okay, here are your options today for playing 18 holes. Go play.”

The beauty of what we are planning is that if someone says, “I want to play (fill in the blank between 3 and 36 holes)”, unlike other facilities, we will have the ability to give them the same response. “Here are your options.  Go play.”

At the end of the day, our mission is to make golf accessible and enjoyable for the greatest number of players possible (especially kids) and we believe that the 4 Course Concept is the best approach to achieving that mission.  We couldn’t be more excited to be able to tell you, “Go play.”



For those who are interested in the nuts-and-bolts of the design process, Dave gave me permission to share some of his earlier sketches, along with technical details specific to water management that he has been working through with Todd Quitno.

In this version of the Kids Links, we were considering putting the Rolling Green putting course in the same section so that kids would have easy access to it.  Dave also had a practice green across the canal.


After further discussion with our friends from The First Tee and The Golf Practice, and another site visit, Dave moved the Rolling Green out of that section of the property.


We went around and around trying to figure out how to make the Back Lot work as both a dynamic practice facility and a short course.  I suspect that it will be difficult to comprehend just how great Dave’s design is until it gets built.

We hope that putting the Rolling Green adjacent to the park will both increase its exposure to kids and families and allow us to keep the putting course open at night during the summer.


We are not allowed to drain water into the canal or use subsurface drainage.  The site is mostly sandy, but it has some trouble spots.  We will be using a combination of grading, dry burns, dry basins, and planted wet basins to manage water.

Dave provided his thoughts on locations to Todd.


After a site visit with our Superintendent Tom Tully, Todd put together a much more comprehensive drainage layout.



It has been fascinating for me to witness these talented, experienced professionals collaborate and bring this vision to life.  I am convinced that we are in very capable hands – the end product will be highly functional, sustainable, and a joy to play for decades to come.


More Journey Along the Shores posts:



Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf

25 thoughts on “Journey Along the Shores – Part 13 (4 Course Concept Revisited)

  1. I walked peter jans everyday growing up as a kid. It is where I learned how to play golf. It is wonderful to see we are making great changed to such a good piece of land. Old holes 12-16 (now 14-18) are the teeth of the golf course. While I agree that the new plans would promote the game and allow all levels to play, I think making physical changes to the original layout would be more realistic and ideal. Add bunkers, create hills, grow up rough, move tee boxes, the simple things. I just know ill miss the back nine of the course.

    1. Thanks for reaching out Jackson. As one who has played on and tinkered with the golf course alongside volunteers, your sentiment resonates with me. However, the reality of the situation is this:

      The current Board and the Superintendent Tom Tully have put forth a herculean effort to rescue the course from going off a cliff forever. We in the community are very fortunate for what they have done in the last several years, pitching in their energy, and writing checks to keep the place afloat.

      In spite of all of the progress they have made though, the course still operates at a deficit annually and its infrastructure is crumbling – there are substantive issues with drainage, agronomy, irrigation, tree management, and equipment, and no money to properly address those issues. Tom has been a miracle-worker on a shoestring budget to date, and it would be imprudent to assume that he will continue to work miracles indefinitely.

      The numbers and reality on the ground seem to say that in order to make the facility sustainable for the next 100 years, it needs a significant renovation and a new business model that includes subsidy by stable partners. In our exploration of the possibilities, we were told by experts that it was unlikely that we would be able to raise the dollars necessary for the renovation without doing something innovative with the facility.

      That is the driver for the direction of the Master Plan and the preliminary design of the 4 Course Concept. It is an attempt by the Board to determine a sustainable path forward that is not reliant on miracle working.

      I’m not on the Board – I am just a volunteer trying to help out in any way that I can. But I can tell you from my vantage point that if a donor was willing to step up and fund both the necessary improvements to the course infrastructure, and endow its go-forward operations, that option would certainly be considered. No such party has stepped up to date though.

      Thanks again for sharing your perspective. All opinions, questions, volunteer work, and donations are welcome. At the end of the day, we in the community have to own and follow through with a sustainable plan, regardless of the details.

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