In the sweet seaside community of Pacifica about 15 minutes from San Francisco, Sharp Park Golf Course is a classic track that Alister MacKenzie designed during the same era as he created his more world-famous courses in Northern California–Cypress Point, the Claremont Country Club, Pasatiempo and others. Sharp Park was also landscaped by another icon, John McLaren, who created Golden Gate Park. Supervising the planting of literally millions of trees in San Francisco and environs in his heyday of the late 1800s, McLaren also facilitated the planting of 100,000 trees in and around Sharp Park; today, as lush and as darkly romantic as ever, battalions of mature Monterey cypress and pines line the fairways, making this one of California’s most beautiful muni courses.
The easily walkable 6,299-yard course has the same Pacific Ocean views as when it opened in 1931. Generously wide fairways are watered by the Laguna Salada, a marshy lake inhabited by gangs of birds and waterfowl. Greens are in pretty darned good shape for a muni, with just a few that have some fungus around the edges. Plenty of moisture in the sea air translates into a lush world of emerald green.
MacKenzie’s only public seaside links, Sharp Park is beloved by Bay Area locals who enjoy the low weekday greens fees and the top-notch food in the cozy bar and casual clubhouse restaurant–– fresh local seafood is always on the menu. Decorated with vivid Depression-era paintings and beamed ceilings, the Spanish hacienda-style clubhouse was a WPA construction project. Adding to the vintage feel are the funky power carts without windshields, and an old-fashioned starter’s booth and tiny pro shop.
Golfers’ Weekend Getaway, Pacifica
After their rounds, golfers and weekenders head into the little town of Pacifica for good food and fun. My fav new place is Puerto 27 Peruvian Kitchen & Pisco Bar, a popular, rambling, ocean view bar and restaurant serving great food and creative cocktails (the restaurant is adjacent to Pacifica Beach Hotel, one of the best hostelries in town, across from a nice beach and the waterfront walking path).
At the foot of town at Rockaway Beach, Dungeness crab and a dance floor have been big attractions at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant for 90 years; also here, the Sea Breeze Motel is an affordable place to stay.
A few steps away are the Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel
and the Pacifica Motor Inn.
A Grape in the Fog is a café and late-night gathering spot for wine, small plates and live music, while Lovey’s Tea Shoppe attracts lovers of the traditional English tea ritual, complete with tier upon tier of fabulous homemade treats and a wide variety of fresh, gourmet teas.
Eco vs. Muni
Sharp Park Golf Course has been the focus of a several-years-long political and legal tug-of-war between those who wish to retain the course for public recreation and for its historical value, and environmental groups who would do away with the golf course in order to establish a wildlife sanctuary (which, in fact, already exists here). Although an extensive renovation/restoration endeavor is in the works, the fate of Sharp Park continues to be uncertain.