Who Wants To Re-grass Harding Park's Greens!?

As if the old regime at PGA Tour Design Service's bloated renovation price tag ($23 million) wasn't already tragic enough, conversations are taking place about Harding Park's greens needing re-grassing in advance of a 2016 "playoff" event at the San Francisco muni.

Ron Kroichick reports.

The project, if it happens, figures to occur after next year’s Schwab Cup. That still would allow time for the new greens to round into shape before Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Co. come to Harding in ’16.

City officials also must find a way to pay for any renovation of the greens, no small obstacle given ever-present budget constraints.

“Resources are always going to be an issue, so we need to figure out the smartest way to do it,” Ginsburg said.

Considering that the city is struggling to fend off suggestions that the other city courses be closed due to budget constraints and that $23 million bought an uninspired design that in a more ideal economy should be renovated, maybe the PGA Tour can pick up the tab on this one since it's their precious members who have to have things absolutely perfect? 

PGA Tour Offering Schwab Cups And Tourney To-Be-Named-Later To Remedy Ironclad Contract Nuisance

Ron Kroichick reports that the pesky "ironclad" PGA Tour contract with the City of San Francisco for a 2013 or '14 penultimate playoff event at Harding Park is leading to a new offer so that Conway Farms can host the BMW Championship in 2013.

"We've told all the parties the same thing throughout this dialogue: Look, we have a contract with the city of San Francisco to bring the penultimate playoff event there in 2013 or '14," tour executive David Pillsbury said Wednesday. "Until we are able to secure approval from the city to do otherwise, we plan on honoring our contractual agreement.

"We're hopeful, but it's not done until it's done. ... I think ultimately (the revised agreement) is good for the game of golf, for San Francisco and for Harding Park."

Rec and Park general manager Phil Ginsburg plans to soon bring the proposal, which includes another marquee PGA Tour event in 2017, '18 or '19, to the commission.

"We are in the process of finalizing an amendment that would move a tour playoff event to 2016 but also add two Schwab Cups," Ginsburg said.

"Harding Park completes rebound by joining TPC network"

You don't normally think of a course joining the TPC network as a crowning achievement, but hey, at least it may force maintenance to improve and will definitely ensure that the tour comes back there for more events over the years.

Cindy Elliott files a nice history of Harding that lead to the uh, rebound completion.
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“I would definitely think twice about coming here if they charged for parking.”

Will Reisman on the latest move to generate revenue at San Francisco's Lincoln Park Golf Course:

The Recreation and Park Department, tasked with bridging an $11 million deficit, could start charging $1.50 an hour to park at Lincoln Park, with the possible changes coming as soon as January.

Golfers and clubhouse officials have balked at the idea, saying the parking fees would make the public course too expensive. Currently, it costs $21 for city residents to play during the week, and $26 during weekends.

“This is a public golf course, and the idea is that you play here because you pay less,” said Rafael Gordon, a San Francisco resident. “I would definitely think twice about coming here if they charged for parking.”

The Richmond district golf course ran a deficit of more than $220,000 last fiscal year. Rec and Park officials are projecting revenue gains ranging from $250,000 to $430,000 a year with the new parking fees, according to department spokeswoman Lisa Seitz Gruwell.

Ground Zero Of Golf V. Environment?

Julia Scott of the San Mateo County Times filed an intriguing piece on the Sharp Park situation because it the fight there seems to be heating up thanks to supervisors offering distinct proposals for the course.

This is what I took away from the story:

  • The course is proving to be a valuable wildlife refuge and habit for rare species, yet the Center for Biological Diversity wants it closed.
  • The city says the course is a financial drain, but figures are murky (Scott included a reference to $500,000 in profit last year but it was later taken down). Either way, the neighboring city of Pacifica has offered to take this burden off city hands and was turned down.
  • The course should be designated a historic landmark thanks to its MacKenzie ties, and such a proposal was hastily made by Sean Elsbernd: "Do I genuinely believe it will be landmarked? No. One side is throwing a bookmark down, I'm throwing down another," said Elsbernd, who said he would "fight" to retain the public 18-hole golf course in Pacifica. "Golf and the environment are not mutually exclusive. They can wok together and I have every expectation that we can make that happen."
  • And this rational logic from the golf side: Longtime Sharp Park golfer David Diller, president of the Sharp Park Golf Club, doesn't like the idea that he and his fellow golfers may be an endangered species themselves. Flooding on the course, a seasonal occurrence, has partially closed the 14th fairway, and existing protections for red-legged frogs prevent pumping the water out when the frogs are laying their eggs in the spring.  There's always this misconception that if you're pro-golf you're anti-environment — but nothing could be farther than the truth," said Miller. "(Sharp Park) has been there for over 70 years. If we're doing such a terrible job, why are there still San Francisco garter snakes and red-legged frogs? 

It seems to me that if a place like Sharp Park with such heritage and clearly one making a positive impact environmentally can't be shown to be an essential place to keep around, the game is really in trouble. If golf's leadership is genuine in the game's future, they would be descending on San Francisco to take up the cause of Sharp Park.

Re-routing Harding?!

The PGA Tour re-routed Robert Trent Jones Golf Club to accomodate luxury boxes but I don't recall it really helping, yet they've done the same with Harding Park for the President's Cup as Ron Kroichick reports:

PGA Tour officials plan only one physical change to the course for next year's event: They will build a new tee on what the public knows as No. 9 (it will be No. 18 for the Presidents Cup), stretching it to 535 yards. That hole will play as a par-5 next October; it played as a par-4 (at less than 500 yards) for the American Express Championship in 2005.

Tour officials also will "re-route" the course, so the customary closing holes - Nos. 16, 17 and 18 - will become Nos. 13, 14 and 15. (This makes it more likely matches will reach those holes.) The holes that are normally Nos. 1, 7 and 9 will become Nos. 16, 17 and 18, respectively.

Those new finishers may be the least interesting holes on the course. Something to not look forward to.