Surely, Poplar Creek Golf Club isn’t the greatest course in the Bay Area, which is home to meccas like San Francisco Golf Club, Olympic and Harding Park. But considering that two of those three tracks are impossible to play for most folks, Poplar Creek is definitely a good option if you’re flying into San Francisco Airport and have a few extra hours. The course is just a couple of miles from the terminals; it’s super cheap ($35 on weekdays); it’s superbly maintained; and it’s darn fun and not too hard.
I recently played Poplar Creek with some high-school buddies after I landed at SFO. I had a few hours to kill before a business meeting, so before flying I called my friends, and they arranged to play hooky from work.
It had a fun opening hole. After slicing a drive on the straightaway 490-yard par 5, I had 235 to the green. I pushed my three-wood a bit, heard a monstrously loud “DING” and watched the ball ricochet sideways off a huge electric wire tower. Thankfully, my ball ended up in the fairway, and the towers didn’t come into play the rest of the day.
The course is relatively flat and short (par 70, 6,042 yards), but there are lots of fun doglegs, and the par 3s, which range from 136 to 210 yards, are a strong challenge. There’s also a good bit of water with five lakes, two waterfalls and some streams.
Poplar Creek is one of California’s most popular tracks, logging about 100,000 rounds each year. One of this year’s rounds was one of the greatest ever played anywhere. In September, Adam Ichikawa, 17, a senior at Mountain View High, shot a 12-under 58 in the second round of the 54-hole San Mateo County Championship. While breaking the course record by four shots, Adam made 10 birdies, one eagle and seven pars. Adam ended the 54-hole event with a 12-under 198, and he won the title with a par on the second hole in a sudden-death playoff.