Fast FactsLocation: 300 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
Architects: Jack Neville (Pebble Beach), Herbert Fowler (Royal Lytham & St. Anne's) and Jack Fleming (Fleming Course at Harding Park)
Par/Yardage: Blue tees: 5416 / 68; White tees: 4948 / 68; Red tees: 4732 / 70
Greens Fees: $21-$34
San Francisco's Lincoln Park Golf Course, with its majestic views of the Golden Gate and the Pacific Ocean, has always been a beautiful public asset to be treasured. Numerous renovations over the past century have added an interesting element to a course, which was once a burial ground and is presently the surrounding home of a beautiful art museum.
At the turn of the 20th century there were no municipal golf courses in San Francisco or in any of the surrounding communities. The general public, who did not have access or were unable to afford the country club setting for golfing recreation, began to press the City to set aside some public land to be groomed as a public golf course. At this point in time, the parcel of land now referred to as Lincoln Park was a cemetery named Potter’s Field. Like many cemeteries of that era, it was ethnically divided into various sections. What is presently the 18th fairway of the golf course was a burial ground, primarily for the city’s Italian community. The area that now constitutes the 1st and 13th fairways was the Chinese section of the cemetery, and the high terrain at the 15th fairway and 13th tee was a Serbian resting place.
At the beginning of 1902, Jack Neville and Vincent Whitney approached John McLaren, San Francisco’s steward of public parks, about the prospect of constructing a municipal golf course. Jack Neville at the time was considered one of the finest amateur golfers in the country and would go on to design such classic golf courses as Pebble Beach Golf Links in Monterrey and Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles. Vincent Whitney was a member of the Olympic Club and owned the Whitney Building, which stood for years on lower Geary Street. Both of these men were wealthy members of private clubs but were very instrumental in starting San Francisco’s first municipal golf course. John McLaren encouraged Neville and Whitney to try their hand at constructing some golf holes that the Potter’s Field site. At the time golf was still considered a game to be played on links land as near to the ocean as possible, and Potter’s Field, despite it being an existing cemetery, was considered a good site. By the end of 1902 a three-hole layout was completed on the hilly, wind-swept, and almost treeless land. These three holes occupied what are presently the 1st, 12th and 13th holes of the modern course.
The popularity of the new links, which were free to the public, led to the expansion of the course and the eventual removal of the cemetery. Lincoln Park, named after Abraham Lincoln, became a full 18-hole course in 1917. It was at this point that the first City golf tournament was played at the Lincoln Park Golf Course. During the 1920s, the cost to play at Lincoln Park was $ 2.00 per month for the full 18. Herbert Fowler, who worked on Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Scotland, added nine of those holes and redesigned the course in the early 1920s. The course was redesigned again in the 1960s by Jack Fleming, who assisted Dr. Alister Mackenzie in the construction of some of the Bay Area’s greatest courses, including Cypress Point, Pasatiempo and, of course, Sharp Park.
Lincoln Park, in all of its incarnations, has been enjoyed by local and visiting golfers for the past century. To ensure that it provides challenges and relaxation for the next century, please contact the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance.Photographs and some text courtesy of Lincoln Park Golf Club
Lincoln Park 3rd Green
Lincoln Park 18th Hole
Lincoln Park 17th Tee circa 1937
SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY
Lincoln Park 9th Fairway
Lincoln Park 5th Green