TPC Harding Park (formerly known as Harding Park Golf Club) is a municipal golf course located in San Francisco, California, and is now the only municipal golf course that is operated by the PGA Tour.
Known simply as “Harding Park” to locals and golf fans, it has become a household name having hosted the 2005 WGC American Express Championship, the 2009 Presidents Cup, and the Champions Tour Charles Schwab Cup Championship in 2010, 2011, and 2013. It remains in the spotlight by playing host to the 2015 WGC Cadillac Match Play Championship, and is also slated to host the 2020 PGA Championship and the 2025 Presidents Cup — a testament to its timeless design.
The classic-style layout rolls gently along Lake Merced with the back 9 circling the entire outside perimeter of the property, and the front 9 contained inside like caramel in a chocolate, along with a 9-hole course, The Fleming 9. The lake views, majestic Monterey Cypress trees, gently rolling fairways, challenging green complexes and classic bunkering make Harding Park a course that will never go out of style.
The original 1925 design by Willie Watson (who also designed the famed Olympic Club across the lake) and Sam Whiting underwent a 2005 renovation where 400 yards were added to the course while maintaining the characteristics and intent of the original design set out in 1925.
The par-4 opening tee shot:
The narrow tee shot of the long par-4 6th hole:
Approach to the par-4 6th hole:
Second shot to the par-5 10th hole:
The par-3 11th hole:
Tee shot on the par-4 14th hole:
It’s difficult for me to say enough about a classic layout which, if playing the right tee boxes, offers an extremely fun and fair challenge for golfers of any skill level. It takes a special place to challenge the worlds best golfers, yet provide a place for the average golfer to go out on a daily basis and have fun and be rewarded.
Approach to the dogleg left par-4 15th hole:
The approach to the short par-4 16th hole:
The tee shot of the beautiful par-4 finishing hole:
My wife and I played TPC Harding Park during our three-month road trip which included a drive up the west coast from San Diego to Canada. Our round at Harding Park was sandwiched in between the likes of Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Bandon Dunes. Being in very tough company, Harding Park held its own and remains a course we look back on very fondly, and look forward to playing again.
For $156 from Monday to Thursday, Harding Park doesn’t come uber cheap, but is well worth the investment during a trip to San Francisco. For the residents of San Francisco, it is only $53, and $67 on weekends. Power carts are extra, but I highly recommend walking. Not only is it an extremely walkable course, but they maintain a “cart path only” rule which will result in a lot of walking anyway, so you’re better off saving your money.
Harding Park has the welcoming, relaxed, down to earth charm of a local muni because, well, it is the local muni. I just hope the residents realize how fortunate they are that their local muni also has the majestic allure of a world-class giant because, well, it is one.