Harding Park Redevelopment Underway in San Francisco

On April 8, 2002, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors approved a project involving major renovations to Harding Park Golf Course and the neighboring nine-hole Fleming Park. The $15-million project will be financed by a $13-million state grant and $2 million from the city’s open space fund. That money will be repaid through a greens-fee increase and a partnership with the PGA Tour. The green fees will be bumped from $10 to $15 for 18 holes for San Francisco residents, still quite a bargain, especially when the reinvigorated course opens in the summer of 2003. Fees for out-of-towners will also be increased.

Following the supervisors' approval, the two courses were closed on May 6 for the 13-month project. The redesign of the 27-hole facility is being handled by Arnold Palmer Design. When complete, Harding Park will stretch 7,200 yards from the tips. The project also involves a new 11,496-square-foot clubhouse, a bi-level driving range, a First Tee facility for juniors, new maintenance building, $1 million worth of maintenance equipment, and 50 additional parking spaces.

San Francisco is teaming up on the Harding Park project with the PGA Tour, which will help finance the First Tee facility. The Tour plans to hold its prestigious Tour Championship – starting in 2006 – every three years at Harding Park. The PGA Tour will defray the project’s cost by paying the city $1 million for each tournament. It will also offer its expertise on course design and upkeep.

The agreement with the PGA Tour involves the city agreeing to keep Harding Park up to the association’s championship standards. The greens, for instance, will be mowed daily and cut to no higher than one-eighth of an inch. Sand traps will be raked daily, with similar dictates for the upkeep of roughs, fairways and tees.

The improvements to Harding Park are long overdue. Built in the early 1900s, the facility has been in decline for over 30 years. Bo Links, a 52-year-old golfer who plays Harding Park six times a year, told the San Francisco Examiner that the state of the course “is disgusting. If you play after it rains, all you’re doing is walking through the mud. The balls don’t roll on the greens – they bounce and go off in all different directions. There are dandelions on every tee. This renovation is long overdue.”