The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department proudly maintains a sterling array of six public golf courses – steeped in history and breathtaking scenery. Each course exudes a unique identity. Golden Gate Park is perfect for the beginning golfer, Sharp Park and Lincoln Park boast panoramic views, and Gleneagles is considered one of the most challenging nine holes of golf in America. TPC Harding Park, situated within beautiful Lake Merced, is a championship caliber venue. In 2020, TPC Harding Park will host the PGA Championship, elevating the course as just the fifth municipal course ever to host a Major Championship in the 120 year history of American championship golf.
While San Francisco may be better known for its private clubs such as U.S. Open venue Olympic Club or San Francisco and Lake Merced golf clubs, there are a few public gems in the immediate area and a wealth of daily fee courses in the metropolitan area. Within San Francisco, the famous TPC at Harding Park, where the late Ken Venturi developed his game, is probably the best known. Renovated a few years ago, the course has played host to several high profile events recently, including the President’s Cup and the Champions Tour’s Schwab Cup. But there are some less expensive options inside the city (although certainly not cheap), such as The Presidio — a former military course turned public, with terrific views of the Bay – Golden Gate Park and historic Sharp Park, a 1932 Alistair Mackenzie design.
But because San Francisco is landlocked and quite congested, the vast majority of great public golf lies in the surrounding areas, from Oakland to the wine country north and south. For example, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, there’s Bodega Harbor Golf Club, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design overlooking the ocean. About 45 minutes down the coast from San Francisco is the 36-hole Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, which rivals Pebble Beach, when it comes to ocean views. Or head toward San Jose to check out the impeccable CordeValle Golf Club, the former home of the PGA Tour’s Frys.com Open. Of course, if you’re in San Francisco, it would be a shame not to carve out a couple of days to head south to the Monterey Peninsula, where you’ll find the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spanish Bay and Spyglass Hill, just to name a few.