San Francisco Golf Guide
09 May 2014
see also: Lincoln Park Golf Course, All Course Reviews

-- Golfweek Photo
-- Golfweek Photo
“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Mark Twain did not utter these famous words.

They are, however, quite true. San Francisco is well known for it’s brisk, foggy days, or what locals consider their summer air conditioning.

Just as well known are San Francisco’s golf courses. The likes of The Olympic Club, San Francisco Golf Club, and TPC Harding Park all inhabit the same stretch bordering Lake Merced. Plenty of roars have echoed across the water for Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods —though none have managed to tame the elusive Lake Course at Olympic.

And another fun fact: Where did Tiger play his first USGA championship?

Answer: Lake Merced Golf Club, just down the street, a few steps into Daly City.

Those are the famous clubs that will cost you a pretty penny to play -- if you're able to get on. Let’s take a look instead at the hidden gems of the Bay Area that won’t cost half a paycheck.


Poplar Creek
Poplar Creek Golf Course: Straightforward, and tough to lose a ball. Poplar might not have the most elaborate greens or tricky holes, but for a relaxing day on the course, this is the place to go. Measuring a lick over 6,000 yards with lots of short par fours and fives, players are guaranteed to enjoy themselves. Don’t expect to go and break the course record though, as local player Adam Ichikawa once shot a 58 in a tournament here. That’s right, 12 under. Showoff.

Earl Fry
Chuck Corica Golf Complex - Earl Fry Course: Another East Bay jewel, the Earl Fry course is one of two championship courses at Chuck Corica. Tipping out to only 6,339 yards, this parkland course tests accuracy, not length. Tight fairways and grand eucalyptus trees defend this course, host of the annual Alameda Commuters Golf Tournament, one of Northern California’s major amateur championships. Make sure to take enough club on the signature 15th hole, a 196-yard par three that is all carry over a lake. And if you are feeling extra masochistic, sneak back 30 yards further to the thimble-sized “Commuters” tee. Might need to bring the driver.


Sharp Park
Sharp Park Golf Course: This Alister Mackenzie design has seen major changes over its lifetime thanks to the widening of Highway 1 and the building of a seawall on the back nine, but many Mackenzie characteristics still exist. Located just south of San Francisco in Pacifica, but managed and owned by San Francisco, this beauty of a course starts off slow and peaks on the back nine with some fantastic links-style golf just feet away from the ocean. For those looking to boast that they’ve played a Mackenzie, Sharp is certainly the cheapest and has character to boot. Don’t forget to head in to the clubhouse after for their famous garlic fries.

Monarch Bay
Monarch Bay Golf Club: For a true test of golf, look no further than this links- style course set right on the bay in San Leandro. Listed at 7,015 yards from the tips, it plays even longer thanks to the prevailing winds that come off the water. The course is always in great shape, and it might be the best deal for a championship golf course in the entire Bay Area. At only $32 a player on weekdays and $49 on weekends, Monarch Bay is a steal.


Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park Golf Course: Some might consider Lincoln to be rough around the edges; dandelions line the fairways and the greens are slow. It’s still a joy to play, and perfect for match play. With multiple reachable par fours and a downhill, downwind 500-yard par five, this is the course for someone who wants to get aggressive. The real reason every golfer should play Lincoln Park, however, is the 17th hole. Not only is it a brute of a par three at 240 yards, but just left is a beautiful, unobstructed view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Nothing like it.

Gleneagles International
Gleneagles GC at McLaren Park: Gleneagles is the craziest course in San Francisco. If nothing else, it is an experience. Set in the middle of McLaren Park, Gleneagles only has nine greens, but with two sets of tees on each hole, it can be played as a unique 18. The Jack Fleming-designed layout is built on the side of a hill, and has perhaps the most devilish greens in the city, making it a short but difficult test. As is well known in San Francisco golf lore, Lee Trevino played here twice in the 1980’s and shot 71 the first time around. As for the second round, sportswriter C.W. Nevius noted, “After he got to know the course a little, he fired a 73.”

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