Course Spy: Harding Park

The 18th hole at Harding Park, a rare example of a successful facelift in California.
John & Jeannine Henebry

Harding Park GC
San Francisco, Calif.
415-664-4690
Course Finder Profile | harding-park.com
Greens Fee: $135-$155; $46-$99 (for city residents)

\nSERVICE

For all the prestige of hosting a 2005 PGA Tour event, Harding retains a refreshingly blue-collar feel. High-falutin' types who demand a butt kissing will be disappointed by the disinterest shown them at the bag drop. If you appreciate an on-time starter, you'll love it.

PACE OF PLAY

Tee times are nine minutes apart and the marshals actually muster the courage to marshal. Most play comes from locals who know the layout and get around in under four hours. It's the casual golfer on the corporate outing that has you glaring at your watch.

QUALITY

An extensive renovation and a new management team have transformed a soggy cow pasture into one of the Bay Area's best munis. Expect firm fairways, reasonable rough and subtle but slick greens. The course peaks with a stretch of first-rate par 4s on Lake Merced.

VALUE

Like most good urban munis, Harding is a steal for locals and a worthwhile splurge for out-of-towners like us. We paid $89 on a weekday morning. In the Bay Area, you could pay a lot more for a lot worse.

VERDICT

Forget the frills common at highpriced daily fee courses: Harding Park is proof that plain is better. It is the closest you'll come to a must-play public-access course this side of Monterey and perhaps Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz.

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