Golf facilities in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff have made news in the last few days by announcing the need to study various options for the future of the local courses. It has become obvious that the capacity of available golf rounds in Lake Forest & Lake Bluff public courses exceed, by a wide margin, the demand. The future use in both communities remains in question as the trajectory of demand continues in a downward glide path. Is it time for the two communities to combine the resources and have one surviving golf facility run by a talented staff and operate the place as a first class facility should be managed? Let’s start with an assessment of the Advantages & Disadvantages of each facility:
1. Lake Bluff Golf Course
a. Sizable banquet facilities to host large events, a key to attract such outings and expand rounds of golf.
b. Large greens in very good condition.
c. Appealing bent grass fairways also in good condition.
d. Overall great condition, especially in the last two or three seasons.
e. Modern irrigation system supplied with low cost well water.
f. Marginal club house.
g. Good parking capacity and accessibility.
h. Good driving range that does not encroach the course.
i. Very good practice facilities; green, sand traps, putting.
j. One trick hole (18th), not a very good golf hole.
k. In certain wind conditions, odor from town dump is unappealing.
l. Great in house management and grounds keeping professionals.
m. Lake Bluff Golf Course is not under the control of the Village of Lake Bluff, it is part of a separate taxing body, the Lake Bluff Park District. The District is accountable to its own elected Board and managed by an Executive Director responsible for the Golf Course, Health & Fitness Center, Beach, Tennis & Paddle Tennis, Parks and other recreational facilities. This unique structure and recreational focus, provides a framework that is more streamlined for efficient decision and policy making.
2. Lake Forest, Deerpath Golf Course
a. Older and mature with abundant trees and water.
b. Appealing ambiance.
c. Greens are small and in irregular condition.
d. Fairways are composition patchwork species.
e. Modern irrigation supplied with high cost city water.
f. No banquet facilities for large events to grow the needed rounds.
g. Good club house but with a modest sized restaurant facility and space for events.
h. The incumbent professional management company has received varied reviews, and grounds keeping been disappointing.
i. Adequate practice facilities.
j. Parking is adequate but insufficient for large events.
k. Active and effective youth and adult programs and instruction, emanatly transferable.
l. Deerpath Golf Course is a part of the Lake Forest Park Department with many Park and Recreational responsibilities, which in turn reports the City Manager of the City of Lake Forest, who in turn is responsible to the Board of Alderman. This chain of command is a natural barrier to recreational focus and efficient decision and policy making for the golf facility.
This may be incomplete a list and some will disagree about the subjective attributes, but we now need reality to set in for both communities. It would be irresponsible to allow both golf facilities to fail or be converted to other uses; one must survive for the good of both Lake Bluff and Lake Forest communities and citizens. In the end, there should be a rational dispassionate and independent group of concerned citizens who weigh the alternatives and chose the facility that will have the best chance to survive the brutal and competitive business of Public Golf.
Editor’s note: Letters to the Editor represent the writers opinions and not necessarily those of Daily North Shore.