Golden Gate Park Golf Course
Fulton St. at 47th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94121
Even after 60 years in operation, it is fond of calling itself “San Francisco’s Hidden Jewel.” The golf course in Golden Gate Park is at the western end of the park and has free parking. Open from 30 minutes after sunrise to 30 minutes before dark all year round, you can even enjoy playing here on a holiday. San Francisco card holder resident rates at the par-three, nine-hole course are $12 Monday through Thursday and $14 on weekends. Non-resident rates are $16 and $20. First-come, first-served policy means no reservations are taken. Clubs and pull carts are available to rent and buckets of 35 balls are $4. There’s a barbecue café, a pro shop and instruction offered for juniors on up.
Fleming 9 Course
TPC Harding Park
99 Harding Road
San Francisco, CA 94132
Situated within Harding Park, Fleming is also known as the Executive Course, a nod to busy people who can find the time for nine holes. It’s worth noting that the Cypress-lined fairways and tricky doglegs on these nine holes are considered “challenging” by Harding staff, including three par fours for a total of par 30 on the nine holes stretching over 2,100 yards. Resident cardholders can walk the course for $22 on weekdays and $24 on weekends, rising to $27 on weekdays and $32 on weekends for non-residents. Discounts are offered for seniors and juniors. Pull cart, golf cart and club rental ($25) are available. This operates on a first-come, first-served basis only, so early birds get on the same course the pros play.
Lincoln Park Golf Course
300 34th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94121
Adjacent to the Legion of Honor with views over the Golden Gate, just turn up for the early morning special between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. You’ll play the back nine holes for $13 on Monday through Thursday with no resident card required (it’s $18 on Friday through Sunday). You’re offered a bonus tenth hole, since that’s on the way back to the parking lot. Nine holes is par 34 and add in another par four for the extra hole. Remember, the course is 100 years old; a wild turkey or two plus a resident coyote seem to like it there as well. It can be rather lacking in a manicure, but you may discern the handicraft of Jack Nevill, designer of Pebble Beach and Bel-Air Country Club.
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2100 Sunnydale Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94134
This one’s not so easy to find unless you know the area. Nor are these nine holes considered easy to play. Built in 1962, it’s an old-fashioned challenge in the southeastern corner of San Francisco with some nice views of the bay. “So difficult we stopped building after nine holes,” is the Gleneagles tagline. Green fees for the 36-par nine holes are $19 on Monday through Thursday or $22.50 on Friday through Sunday. No resident card is required and no reservations are taken. Meet the regulars in the bar clubhouse with, predictably, a Scottish theme.
Presidio Golf Course
300 Finley Road
San Francisco, CA 94129
Walk the pretty nine holes among the scent of eucalyptus and pines on the historic course any early morning Friday, Saturdays and Sundays for $32, or add $10 to ride. Sweeping views, strategically placed bunkers and major elevation changes have attracted celebrities and presidents since 1895. Call ahead to find out when the first-hour rates apply, as opening time varies with the season. Reservations at this Arnold Palmer-managed course are accepted. San Francisco and Bay Area resident rates apply, but the early morning fee is a flat fee for all. Free parking and a clubhouse less than 15 minutes from downtown make this an appealing proposition; you’ll likely want to play the full 18 holes.
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Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. A transplanted New Yorker, she has traveled throughout the world as the Big Apple’s official tourism representative. She served as organizer for three Royal Visits to America. As an international relocation consultant, Laurie assisted more than 400 families with overseas moves and is a proud mother of two, thoroughly bi-cultural children. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.