TPC Harding Park
TPC Harding Park, the venue for the upcoming WGC-Cadillac Match Play, has a long, up-and-down history dating back to 1925.
This San Francisco club was named after US President Warren G Harding, an avid golfer, and was opened on July 18, 1925, some two years after his death while visiting the city.
Its designers were the eminent architects Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, who owned the nearby Olympic Golf Club and its top-rate quality was soon attracting leading amateur events like the US Amateur Public Links Championship.
In the 1960s, golfers like Gary Player and Billy Casper won professional tournaments there when it became a regular stop on the PGA Tour, but it was dropped from the Tour after the 1969 San Francisco Open due to the deteriorating conditions of both the course and the facilities offered by the clubhouse.
Conditions worsened there in the 1970s and 80s when the course owners, the San Francisco municipality, cut its budget for the upkeep of its more than a dozen public courses, and it wasn’t until 2002 after a crusade led by lawyer and golfer Sandy Tatum and helped along by Sean Elsbernd, who was to become the City’s District 7 supervisor, that Harding Park was restored to its former glory.
The 15-month project lengthened the championship course from 6,743 to 7,200 yards, and with the inclusion of some new bunkers and upgrades of all its training and practice facilities and a major face-lift of its clubhouse, it was restored to the high-quality facility demanded by the PGA Tour.
It re-opened on October 6, 2005, in preparation for the WGC-American Express Championship of that year.
Four years later this stand-out public course staged the President’s Cup and now, this week, it will host a premier World Golf Championships event.
The Club is also home to the First Tee Chapter of San Francisco, an educational program co-sponsored by the PGA Tour which introduces underprivileged youth to the benefits of golf.
Harding Park’s layout follows the original design of golf architect Watson and his assistant Whiting, so the course continues to take advantage of the property’s natural and existing topography, contours and vegetation.
The predominant features include its towering Monterey Cypress trees and the dominant presence of Lake Merced on three of its sides.
During its upgrade in 2002, the character of the course was substantially enhanced with the inclusion of several carefully placed bunkers and re-contoured greens.
The addition of multiple teeing surfaces has also provided the course with much greater flexibility, allowing it to offer characteristics that will challenge every golfer, from beginner to the most skilled professional.
The Harding Park complex also now includes an outstanding executive nine-hole course known as the Fleming Golf Course.
The Fleming nine, says the club website, has been revitalized to the same discerning standards and conditioning as Harding’s re-creation, albeit shorter in length yet full of strategy and interest.
Fleming plays to a par of 30, with a total yardage for the nine holes ranging from 1,865 yards from the forward tees to 2165 yards from the regular tees.
The three par fours and six par threes are an excellent alternative to Harding’s championship layout, providing a comfortable setting for the beginning or learning golfer.
Harding Park also features a practice putting green and an all-season practice area with a state-of-the-art TourTurf surface installed in both the teeing and landing areas.
HARDING PARK SCORECARD
For a flyover guide of the course, click here.
RATES AND GREEN FEES
Harding Park, like Torrey Pines in San Diego in Southern California, is a city-owned course that is open to the public, but it is among one of the most expensive of its kind in the Bay area.
The clubhouse has been upgraded to the highest standards and together with the usual locker and change room facilities, contains a pro-shop and spike bar as well as a restaurant and convention facilities.
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