First Tee student Brandon Savage, 15, practices his swing at the new indoor golf simulator. Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago

LAKEVIEW — A youth development facility and after-school golfing program opened Wednesday in the old Waveland Clock Tower building on the lakefront.

First Tee — Greater Chicago, a project from the World Golf Foundation, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its KemperSports Clubhouse for Kids, which serves as a place for kids to practice golfing.

It’s phase one of a two-phase project that will also feature outdoor areas designed for putting, full-swing and short-game practice. Phase two, which includes the facility’s outdoor elements, is expected to be completed by spring. Crews broke ground on the project in January.

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

“Our clubhouse has the potential to be a real game changer for the youth we serve,” said Lea Jesse, CEO of First Tee — Greater Chicago. “We are doubling down on our mission to set kids on a positive trajectory in life by providing them with a safe space 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 at 3701 N. Recreation Drive houses a learning lounge and golf simulator open to all kids and teens enrolled in the First Tee program throughout the year.

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.

First Tee’s new clubhouse features a learning lounge. Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago

It’s part of a long-term deal with the Park District and is the first of several facilities that First Tee plans to build, with more planned for the South and West sides. The golfing facility adds on to the Park District’s Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course, a scenic nine-hole course along Lake Michigan.

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

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

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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