Gary’s North Gleason Driving Range reopens
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent August 22, 2012 5:56PM
Gleason Park Manager Bob Farag (far right) speaks as staff members (from left) Don Plohg, Abe Spencer and Gwen Hurd tee off during a press conference to announce the re-opening of the North Gleason Driving Range in Gary, Ind. Wednesday August 22, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
If you go
The North Gleason Driving Range is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday until the end of the season. Cost per bucket is $3, $7 or $10. For more information, call 980-1089.
Updated: September 24, 2012 7:44AM
GARY — Golf lovers who feel like perfecting their swings or just beating around a bucket of balls don’t have to leave the city in order to do so once again.
After four years of languishing under heavy brush that grew after the 2008 flood, the North Gleason Driving Range is back in business. Opened for a week, the Parks Department officially announced that fact Wednesday during a news conference at the range.
Had it been 2008, golfers and attendees would’ve been underwater, said Gleason Park Manager Bob Farag. No stranger to badly flooded golf courses, the owner and manger of the now-defunct Griffith Golf Course was nevertheless horrified at what he saw in North Gleason.
“It was total devastation,” Farag said. “When I was sitting on the mower, I couldn’t see ahead of me. The grass was that tall.
“But we persevered through, and now we’re ready.”
Farag, along with his own staff and the city’s General Services Department, worked for a month and a half clearing and grooming the range back to its pristine condition. In doing it themselves, Farag said they saved the city between $50,000 and $100,000.
And while they were cleaning up, they discovered a recently paved path that led to a small lookout shelter on the Little Calumet River, which will be nice for folks who want a quiet place to hang out.
Parks Superintendent Lori Peterson Latham said the reopening represents more than just bringing more golf back to the city.
“This park was where African-Americans were segregated because they weren’t allowed to play on South Gleason,” Peterson Latham said. “I’m proud to welcome anybody and everybody here.”
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Councilwoman Kim Robinson, D-5th, said the range, which will introduce programs such as First Tee back to the community’s young golfers, is a great addition. Robinson said she’s had to take her son to Wicker Park and Lost Marsh Golf Courses to practice and is happy she has the choice to stay in the city now.
Farag said that he expects the range to bring in enough money to be self-sustaining within a year or two.