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or a glimpse of what awaits you on a tour of San Francisco’s public courses, pause beside the putting green at Lincoln


Park, a scruffy, scenic layout on the city’s outer reaches. The modest prac- tice area commands scene-stealing views of the Golden Gate Bridge, which looms so close it almost seems that you could touch it. But forget the postcard vistas. Focus on the plaque. Mounted on a stone a few paces


from the green, the plaque pays tribute to the late George Archer, a


San Francisco native and winner of the 1969 Masters. A wizard with the flatstick, Archer lived just down the street, and often worked his magic in low-stakes evening putting games at Lincoln Park, back when the practice green was lit at night. The memorial to Archer makes for


a striking contrast—major champion; humble muni—but that’s what you get in San Francisco, where blue-col- lar courses have long been grooming ground for blue-chip talent. “Historically, San Francisco was a


working-class city, and that history is reflected in its golf,” says John Aben- droth, a former Tour pro and co-host of the TV and radio show, Hooked On Golf. “A lot of the best players who came up here, they weren’t ex- actly your silver spoon-types. So very often, when you’re playing public golf here, you’re playing in the same places where they learned the game.” Raised in San Francisco’s West


Portal district, Abendroth starred on the junior golf circuit, and like other local prodigies who came before


him—Ken Venturi, Johnny Miller, Bob Rosburg, Bob Lunn, to name a few—he enjoyed ready access to a top- flight cluster of municipal layouts, all grouped within a 30 minute drive. That constellation holds today, and


TPC Harding Park remains its bright- est star.


Opened in 1925, and named for the


U.S. President who died in San Fran- cisco two years before, Harding was designed by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, the men behind The Olym- pic Club’s prestigious Lake Course, which peers out at Harding from the other side of Lake Merced. Even in its infancy, Harding was


widely hailed as every bit its private neighbor’s equal, and it soon attracted tournaments that underscored the point. The U.S. Amateur Public Links Cham- pionship was held at Harding in 1937, and then again in 1956. In the 1960s, the course emerged as a regular Tour stop, and in 1981, it hosted the Tour’s first full-field senior professional event. Harding’s reputation as a mighty muni, the Everyman’s answer to the


All Eyes on San Francisco in 2015


San Francisco has long been a grand stage for golf, and next year the spotlight will swoop once more across the city. Make that three more times. Mark your calendar for these big events:


Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic Lake Merced Golf Club April 24-27, 2015


WGC Match-Play Championship TPC Harding Park April 27-May 3, 2015


Inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship The Olympic Club May 2-6, 2015


San Francisco native George Archer honed his short game at Lincoln Park, where a plaque pays tribute to the 1969 Bing Crosby and Masters champion.


38 / NCGA.ORG / FALL 2014


PHOTO: AP


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