Thanks to reader NRH for this C.W. Nevius column in the San Francisco Chronicle analyzing the fight for Lincoln Park and other San Francisco city courses.
Bo Links, one of the founders of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, says golfers are planning a march on the Board of Supervisors today. The issue is whether the city should study turning its money-losing golf courses into another kind of recreation facility, like soccer fields, or preserve the fairways and greens.Oh dear. This is beautiful:
Guess which side the golfers are on.
"We're going to hitch up our britches and go to City Hall," Links says. "We're hoping to have over 100. And some of the guys are talking about bringing golf clubs."
This, of course, raises two questions:
First, what would you use to get up and down from the steps of City Hall? A lob wedge?
And second, in the midst of so many high-profile and contentious issues, how did the city's golf courses get to be such a hot topic?
That part is simple - the golf course debate has something for everyone.
For neighborhood activists, it is about empowerment. For golfers, it is populism. For Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, it's a labor issue. And fellow Supervisor Sean Elsbernd is talking about governmental red tape. McGoldrick is leery of letting a private firm manage the courses; Elsbernd thinks it could not only work, but make money.
Last Wednesday, the supervisors' Budget and Finance Committee met to consider McGoldrick's proposal to create a golf task force to conduct a three-year study of the "adaptive re-use" of the golf courses.
To the surprise of nearly everyone, the golfers showed up in force, some 50 strong. Richard Harris, another of the founders of the Golf Alliance, says the group made its point forcefully.
"You need professional management for the golf courses," he says. "What you don't need is another three-year study. That's asking to literally study it to death until the golf courses deteriorate so badly it isn't an issue."
"Even I was surprised," said Elsbernd. "What I really appreciated was watching the faces of those who thought this was going to be a walk in the park, so to speak."
In the face of that kind of response, it was decided not to send the proposal out of committee with a recommendation for a yes vote. And Monday, McGoldrick announced that he plans to make a motion to put the matter over until at least next month, meaning that it won't be voted on in today's meeting.
"Which has to be a victory on our part," says Elsbernd.
The golfers may have been slow to act, but they have been fired up by talk that some of the city's courses, like the neglected, but scenic, Lincoln Park, might be turned into a soccer field.
"Or BMX bike runs," says Isabel Wade, executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council. "Or skate parks. We could have one incredible event center on the 17th hole. Nobody has been looking at that."
We'll pause here for a moment while the residents of those huge, expensive homes in Sea Cliff consider the implications of an event center around the corner from them. And that's not to mention the fact that any soccer pitch built on the hills and mounds of Lincoln Park would require players to use safety ropes to keep from sliding off the field.