Fore! Golfing is up at Glenview Park District courses
Head golf pro Michael Stone helps Jean Ha 13, of Glenview with her swing during a lesson at the Glenview Park Golf Club on Saturday, January 5, 2012. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:21AM
GLENVIEW — Two days after the new year, freezing temperatures and a light snow covering the course at Glenview Park Golf Club have for now halted hopes of winter play. But course managers are looking forward to spring, summer and fall, based on 2012 attendance.
Season-ending statistics showed yearly growth in several areas at 18-hole Glenview Park Golf Club, 800 Shermer Road.
As of Nov. 30, golf rounds were up 6 percent and overall with cart rental revenue up 23 percent.
While good weather increased patronage, players and administrators said several programs were added in the last four years to also boost attendance.
The two-week Lifetime Fitness program in summer draws about 45 kids ages 8 to 12, who take golf and swimming lessons.
The district reported 500 children participated in youth club programs at Park Golf Club and Glenview National 9 Golf Club on West Lake Avenue near The Glen.
The increase was 100 more kids than in 2011 for a 20 percent increase.
“Golf is truly catching on among the younger generation. We offered a good mix of fun opportunities this summer to attract the first-time golfers and those looking to improve their game,” said Ron Cassidy, district manager of golf operations for 13 years.
This season, Park Golf Club also introduced mixed leagues for singles, couples, co-workers, neighbors or friends.
“The mixed leagues are new and a way for people to get out in a nontraditional way on a Tuesday night, say, to play in a relaxed way,” Cassidy said.
Since 2009, the park district has provided indoor winter golf lessons at Park Center.
Trent Houdek played all four years on the Glenbrook South High School team in Glenview before graduating in 2011.
He continues to play and has worked in summer golf camps offered by Glenview Park District.
“From what I’ve seen, interest in golf starts with young people being curious about the game, which makes them likely to play as adults,” said Houdek, a finance major at the University of Illinois, Champaign.
“I like the fact that golf doesn’t have referees. You learn values such as honesty and integrity when you are your own referee,” he said.
“It’s you versus the course.”
Cassidy said when golf’s popularity nationally peaked in the late 1990s in the Tiger Woods era, Park Golf Club had 55,000 tee-offs a year, whereas this year’s total was 40,000.
He said attendance began to fall after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
“For that reason and the steady decline in the national economy, people got scared. Playing golf is based on discretionary income and needs to fit into one’s own budget,” Cassidy said.
“But over the next several years, golf operators will continue to come up with ideas for getting people out to the courses.”
Cassidy also said although golf remained a middle-age male sport, “This changed years ago to include more women and families.”
Chuck Balling, park district executive director, said his staff has been working on a master plan to improve drainage at Park Golf Club.
The plan will be ready later this year for a proposed 2014 construction start, and it could involve a joint project with the village to improve drainage, Balling said.
In April, a $2.2 million new clubhouse and four attached outdoor paddle tennis courts are scheduled to open at Glenview National 9 Golf Course.
The outdoor paddle tennis courts are heated for play from September to March.
Indoor clubhouse space includes glassed seating areas for viewing golf and paddle tennis, a sports equipment supply shop, fireplace, an office, restrooms, a kitchen and bar for seating eight to 10 patrons.
Outside, a large berm with evergreen trees planted along West Lake Avenue will screen the paddle tennis courts from the neighborhood.
A survey issued in 2011 to a residential database found 89 percent favored paddle tennis courts — divided evenly between men and women.