What a difference a few years can make. Not long ago, the Canal Shores Golf Course, then known as either Peter Jans or Frack McGovern course, appeared before City Council asking for relief from the payment of ever-increasing water bills owed to the City for sprinkler water used on the course. The course could not support itself.

Since then, according to a report presented to City Council Dec. 14, a new board of directors has been appointed, the golf course is above water, all water bills are being paid regularly, and it is looking to grow even further, according to the Council report delivered by John Powers, president of the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association and Jay Ryan, chair of the Canal Shores 100 Committee.

With an eye toward change, Canal Shores applied for and was accepted to be the first course awarded a pro bono design evaluation under a United States Golf Association (USGA) program. The program is offered in conjunction with the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA).

“Under the program, Canal Shores will receive the professional guidance and design skills of David Zinkland, lead architect; Drew Rodgers and Luke Donald, design consultants; and Todd Quitno, project manager,” according to a Canal Shores press release. Canal Shores hope to “use their expertise to make the course even better,” said Mr. Powers.

Preliminary plans call for a shift away from an 18-hole course toward a 12-hole course, with practice facilities taking over the five holes now located south of Central Street. Those preliminary plans have not been finalized.

The Canal Shores report also included an Ecological Master Plan for the course’s green space. The plan has two goals in mind, according to the report: “1. Multi-Use Recreational Opportunities and Facilities and 2. Ecological and Habitat Renovation.”

Canal Shores has received a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for habitat restoration, said Mr. Powers. “Paths and pocket parks will anchor access to the open green space,” continues the report. “Both walkers and golfers … will be able to enjoy the land at the same time.”

Mr. Powers told City Council that the Board remains “community focused, youth focused, and family focused.” Activities include youth programs, dog walking, and cross country skiing. The course “just recently hosted a bike race,” he added.

Alderman Jane Grover, whose former 7th Ward includes the Evanston portion of the golf course, praised the Canal Shores board for “diversified revenue.” The organization no longer relies almost exclusively on “football parking revenue,” she said, though she noted football parking on the course would likely continue.

“This has become quite an asset,” said Ald. Grover. “It’s really extraordinary where you’ve come with this.”

“Congratulations on getting the grants,’ said Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “Go forth and get more grants.” Council voted unanimously to accept the report.

Evanstonians now eagerly await the design concept that will emerge from the USGA/ASGCA evaluation.