Summer 2019

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Only two blocks from the Pacific Ocean, the course isn't visible from any particular vantage point, nor does it afford views of waves crashing ashore. And yet, this unpretentious little layout arguably holds outsized significance in Bay Area golf. Since the Golden Gate Park Golf Course opened in 1951, countless youngsters learned the game on its grounds, and in their golden years still brighten at its very mention. Here, the daily regulars mingle with international tourists, hustlers at the Tuesday evening match and skilled golfers who come to improve their short game. All navigate fast and tricky greens that haven't changed much since they were built. Some 800,000 people live within seven miles, says Golden Gate Park Golf General Manager Justin Moore, and 13 million visitors annually come into the Park. "It doesn't hurt when we have that kind of access to potential players," he says. With tee times every 10 min- utes, rounds are usually done in 90 minutes, and 35,000 to 40,000 a year are routinely played. Moore calls Golden Gate, "a totally egalitarian course, with one tee box for men, women and children." It draws hedge-fund managers and janitors. Hall of Famers Ken Venturi and Johnny Miller played here with their fathers. "We often see generations together on the course," adds Moore. The generational presence is most prevalent during Golden Gate's annual Northern California Family Golf Championship, which will be held for the 66th time during the last weekend of September and the first two of October. Originally known as the "Father and Son," it's the brainchild of the late Art Rosenbaum, a fabled San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter and its former editor. Today's tournament involves two-person teams, comprised of any combination of parents, children, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews. (Gender is irrelevant, although each team must have a generation gap.) The qualifying weekend features 18 holes of alternate-shot medal play, which sorts out flights. The second is alternate-shot match play, with the semis on October 12 and the finals of each flight a day later. The popular muni also has historic roots. It's one of the first solo designs of former San Francisco city parks D I V I N E N I N E T ucked into the northwest corner of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is a modest nine-hole golf course, 10 acres of par-3's ranging from 101 to 194 yards. Its fairways are flanked by Monterey cypress, pine and eucalyptus trees, and flow over sand dunes of the original terrain. Above, top: The third green and tree- flanked fairway characterizes Golden Gate Park golf; a regular clothed in period garb for a charity event. Far right: a foursome tees off on the deceptive uphill eighth. A Walk in the Park By Jay Stuller 54 SUMMER 2019 | NCGA.ORG

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