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“There’s so much history,” says


Richard Harris, co-founder of the San Francisco Golf Alliance, a group devoted to supporting public golf through the city. “But there’s also its remarkable beauty. You just aren’t go- ing to find a prettier place to play.” For all its deep roots in San Fran-


cisco, golf is always growing in new directions. Earlier this year, the fabled City was held for the first time at Presidio Golf Club, a venerable layout but a relative newcomer to the public scene. Born at the turn of 19th cen- tury as a private course, the Presidio evolved into a military course, a fitting incarnation for a layout carved within an army base. Officers weren’t alone in enjoy-


ing it. Babe Ruth, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Charles Schulz all took


their hacks here. So did Joe DiMag- gio, usually in early-morning outings, the better, as one sportswriter later put it, to hide his “crude attempts at learning the game.” In 1997, after the Presidio was


decommissioned as an army base, the golf course morphed once more, this time into a public track. Its routing bucks over rollicking terrain, swoop- ing over crests, ducking into valleys, with pines and eucalyptus standing sentinel all around. Since its military days, the course has gone through vast improvements: greens reworked, drainage upgraded, sight lines opened to create wide-angle views of the sur- rounding hills. Look west from the 10th green, and the city stretches out like a rumpled bed sheet, its fringe the foam-licked sands of Ocean Beach. The panoramics become even


more arresting when you head west yourself, deep into the avenues toward Lincoln Park. Like so many munis, it’s a little rough around the edges; Archer’s former playground could use some TLC. But its 18 holes, which tip out at a sneaky 5,149 yards, offer up an invigorating round. Filled with slender doglegs and deftly employed eleva- tion changes, the course cuts its way around the Legion of Honor, a jewel among the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, but the entire setting is something of a showpiece. The stirring scenery reaches its peak splendor on the 17th hole, a 240-yard par 3, set on bluffs along the Golden Gate. Your goal is the green, but you can’t help but fix your gaze on the graceful span, stretching, in the strikingly near- distance, from the city to the Marin Headlands.


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JOSH SENS is a contributing editor for GOLF Magazine who writes out of his home in Oakland.


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