First tee opens youth golf facility that transforms Waveland’s clock tower building into a clubhouse

LAKEVIEW — A youth development center and after-school golf program opened Wednesday at the old Lakeside Clock Tower building in Waveland.

First Tee – Greater Chicago, a project of the World Golf Foundation, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its KemperSports Clubhouse for Kids, which serves as a place where children can practice golf.

This is the first phase of a two-phase project that will also include outdoor spaces designed for practicing putting, full swing and short game. The second phase, which includes the exterior elements of the facility, is expected to be completed by the spring. The crews inaugurated the project in January.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
First Tee – Greater Chicago has transformed the derelict Waveland Clock Tower building into a new clubhouse for youth in its golf program.

“Our clubhouse has the potential to be a game-changer for the young people we serve,” said Lea Jesse, CEO of First Tee – Greater Chicago. “We’re doubling down on our mission to put kids on a positive trajectory in life by providing a safe space for them to further explore their interests and participate in a number of enrichment activities in addition to their golf lessons.”

The 1,250 square foot facility located at 3701 N. Recreation Drive houses a learn-to-play lounge and golf simulator open to all children and teens enrolled in the First Tee program year-round.

The indoor area will house golf programs and special events and workshops, such as a healthy habits summit, career readiness workshops and mentorship opportunities, Jesse said.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
The new clubhouse at First Tee includes a learning lounge.

It is part of a long-term agreement with the Park District and is the first of several facilities First Tee plans to build, with more planned for the south and west sides. The golf facility complements the Park District’s Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course, a scenic nine-hole course along Lake Michigan.

First Tee is raising $2 million to support the project.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for First Tee – Greater Chicago’s youth club was held on Wednesday.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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