It is far too cold outside to be playing a round of golf. However, when it's finally warm enough to break out the putter, you can count on improved city courses.
The Chicago Park District has announced that the city's six golf courses, two miniature-golf courses, and three driving ranges will be receiving a $5.5 million makeover, thanks to a 15-year contract with Billy Casper Golf Management.
If you've been on the city's greens recently, you know they could use a little tidying up. Park District board president Gery Chico told the Sun-Times, "You can't tell the difference between the fairways and the rough."
Peter Hill, chief executive of Casper Golf, plans on attracting more golf-minded tourists by providing better grounds maintenance and rebuilding some bunkers and tee boxes. Company officials are hoping to increase use of the public golf courses by 5 to 10 percent.
The Virginia-based company will be paid $875,000 a year and five percent of the courses' gross revenues when they exceed $2.5 million.
Of course, one can’t help but wonder if this beautification of the city’s lakefront golf courses has anything to do with Mayor Daley’s never-ending efforts to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. After all, the money could have gone to IDOT, which has been forced to use their snow plows sparingly this year. Or the CTA, which approved fare hikes for 2009 to make up for high energy costs and low funding.
This move is especially questionable just after the Mayor privatized the city’s parking meters, which could raise parking rates to $1 an hour in most neighborhoods, to help balance Chicago’s troubling budget.
As one Chicagoist commenter said, “Refurbish the golf courses? What fore?”