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Bay Area golfers have legally protect- able interests in their use and enjoy- ment of Sharp Park, and ruled in favor of SFPGA’s intervention. But the fight continues to this


day, to the extent that San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos, a candidate for mayor, proposed to give away Sharp Park to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The GGNRA has


onships on great golf courses—yet I have always considered Sharp Park to be Dr. MacKenzie’s great gift to the American public golfer.” MacKenzie wrote a book, The


Spirit of St. Andrews, where he discusses Sharp Park and his philosophy of golf course design. “My reputation has been based


I have traveled the world and played in great championships on great golf courses—yet I have always considered Sharp Park to be Dr. MacKenzie’s great gift to the American public golfer. –KEN VENTURI


said it will not operate a golf course at Sharp Park. Ken Venturi grew up in a work-


ing class family in San Francisco and developed his game at Sharp Park, Lincoln and Harding. The 1964 U.S. Open champion at Congressional CC immediately offered his assistance, and was named Honorary Chairman of the SFPGA. “The only access I had to golf as a


child was through San Francisco’s public golf courses,” Venturi writes in his declaration to the court. “Sharp Park is an unpretentious place, with an old-fashioned pub that is open to golf- ers and non-golfers alike. The course is a hub of civic activity in Pacifica, and has been since it opened in 1932. Indeed, Sharp Park connects golfers to the Scottish public course roots of the game in a way that few, if any, courses can duplicate. I have traveled the world and played in great champi-


on the fact that I have endeavored to conserve the existing natural features and, where these were lacking, to create formations in the spirit of nature herself,” MacKenzie


wrote. “This excellence of design is more felt than fully realized by the players, but nevertheless it is constantly exercising a subconscious influence upon him and in course of time he grows to admire such a course as all works of beauty must be eventually felt and admired.”


Those elements are present at Sharp


Park today. His only mistake was to dredge the lagoon. The Laguna Salada on the property was salt water, con- nected to the ocean through an inlet.


MacKenzie closed the inlet, dredged the lagoon, and made it fresh water. Frogs do not like salt water. There


were no frogs at the old Laguna Salada, which was then surrounded by an artichoke farm. But once the water was fresh, frogs jumped in. Snakes followed the frogs, to eat them. And thus began the terrible convergence which could threaten every golf course in America. A study funded by San Francisco found that the first sighting of the frog and snake at Sharp Park was in 1946. It also found that the golfers created a buffer zone from predators like cats and dogs to the endangered species, since the lake is at the center of the course. CBD knew this, but funded its own study. Sharp Park remains one of the only


public golf courses with low green fees ($23-$40) and relatively flat ground, where seniors and juniors have access to the game at a place that should be a national landmark. “Look at the parking lot and you see


a bunch of pickup trucks,” Harris said. “This is a place where Joe Lunchbox plays the game, not a person of wealth or position.” In other words, they’re picking on the wrong guys, in the wrong place.


Ron Salsig is a contributing writer for NCGA Golf and has won three national awards from the GWAA.


46 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2011


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