Chicago had 83.6% of residents satisfied with their living experience in the second quarter. Adobe Stock/Kenneth Sponsler

The Chicago Tribune reports that the decline of golf and the subsequent closure of suburban golf courses offers opportunities for increasing green space and building new homes. The National Golf Foundation pegs the sport's contraction at an 8% loss of courses since 2006. In Illinois, the number of municipal course have fallen from 182 courses in 1995 to 169 today. When courses fail, the land has potential for being freed up and conflict sometimes arises.

Converting golf courses to any other use is not as easy as it might seem. Regardless of the aspirations of the property owner and the ambitions of local residents, many courses are invisibly hemmed in by long-standing zoning and land-use restrictions. Protections that initially guaranteed course owners and adjacent homeowners mutually assured green space now complicate efforts to build on the land and can even undermine attempts to transform courses to parks.

In west suburban Bloomingdale, the battle over the former Indian Lakes course is in a momentary lull, said community activist and longtime resident Dan McGuire, 55.

He has lived adjacent to the course for 20 years and, it’s true, he said, that his initial concern about the dense residential subdivision proposed for the course was driven by worry about his own home value. In 2017, K. Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., a Matawan, New Jersey, home builder, introduced a plan that the shuttered course be rezoned to allow for residential development.

Close to downtown and adjacent to neighborhoods, the 100-acre Highland Park Country Club golf course was a rare opportunity for the Park District to create a new kind of open space that welcomes all residents. ... But McGuire and like-minded residents quickly realized that keeping open space in their own backyards would take more than their self-interested voices.

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