Framed by some truly stunning natural scenery, San Francisco and its surroundings offer a scenic backdrop for a game of golf, with the area home to a number of exceptional courses.
Boasting epic hills, a sandy coastline, and some awe-inspiring man-made structures such as the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is one of California’s most visually arresting cities. And scattered in and around it are several majestic golf courses that combine alluring charm and pristine playability in equal measure. Here are 12 of the very best.
Bayland Golf Links
Formerly the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course, William P. Bell and his son William F. Bell conceived and designed a course where public golf would meet nature; where players could enjoy the outdoors along one of the world’s most famous waterways- the San Francisco Bay. Over the years the course lost its luster and Forrest Richardson was engaged to bring new life and pride back to the Palo Alto golf experience. Reopened in 2018, the entirely new golf course features large bentgrass greens, native wetlands, and a true links-style experience featuring Paspalum turfed fairways that beg for a bump-and-run shot into the green. Dunes-like landforms dot the landscape along with creative features such as a large double-green and a par 4 with two alternate greens to play to. Baylands Golf Links is truly keeping with a links golf experience, something long awaited by Bay Area residents and visitors.
1875 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto
Lincoln Park Golf Course
There can be few golf courses boasting a setting quite like the course at Lincoln Park, which surrounds the historic art museum at the Palace of the Legion of Honor. Situated seven miles west of downtown San Francisco, the scenic 18-hole course features a fun, hilly terrain, strong ocean winds and narrow cypress-lined fairways that provide a challenge for all levels of golfer. Several of the holes offer views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, with the vistas from the 17th being the pick of the bunch.
300 34th Avenue, San Francisco
Marin Country Club
Nestled in a beautiful valley in Novato, California, a 35-minute drive north of San Francisco, Marin Country Club is a haven of recreation, relaxation and tranquility. The club’s 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course features exceptional year-round conditions, including 9 sets of tees for different skill levels, all set against the backdrop of incredible views of the scenic Ignacio Valley. Away from the course, golfers can also avail themselves of a state-of-the-art practice facility complete with driving range and putting green, while the club also offers tennis courts, sparkling swimming pools, and numerous upscale dining options.
500 Country Club Drive, Novato
Presidio Golf Course
Once restricted to private club members, Presidio opened for general play in 1995 and rapidly gained a reputation as one of the nation’s top public courses. Set among the hills of a national park just minutes from downtown San Fran, the 18-hole course plays 6,500 yards of challenging golf winding through beautiful Eucalyptus and Monterey Pine trees. The Clubhouse is also a major part of the appeal, tucked into the oldest part of the Presidio Forest and featuring rich cherry wood panelling, vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, a large limestone fireplace, and sweeping views over the golf course. There’s also a full-service restaurant, a driving range and practice facility, and an award-winning golf shop.
300 Finley Road, San Francisco
Half Moon Bay’s Ocean Course
An idyllic seaside club featuring a hotel and restaurant, this course offers jaw-dropping Pacific views from nearly every hole, complementing some of the best links golf conditions in the Bay Area. Firm, wide open fairways are bordered by wispy native grasses and seasonal wildflowers, while the changes in elevation adds drama, as does the on-shore winds, coastal fog and magnificent sunsets. Between holes 9 and 10 you’ll pass through the Ocean Grill restaurant where you can refresh and refuel. Other highlights include the blufftop 17th hole, where you’ll hit to an elegantly placed green steps from a beautiful beach.
2 Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay
Sharp Park Golf Course
An historic seaside links course, designed by the preeminent architect Alister MacKenzie, Sharp Park lies around 16 miles south of downtown San Francisco. Opened in 1932, the fun and challenging par 72 course is 6,300 yards long and offers fabulous views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding headlands and mountains, while several holes wrap around Laguna Salada, a picturesque natural lake. There’s also a charming Spanish hacienda clubhouse that dates back to the course’s origins.
1 Sharp Park Road, Pacifica
The Course at Wente Vineyards
Located less than an hour east of San Francisco, and surrounding Wente Vineyards, one of California’s premier wine producers, this exceptional course sprawls across the lush, rolling hills of Livermore Valley. The legendary Greg Norman carefully crafted the course incorporating three different landscapes – woodlands, grassy meadows, and mature vineyards – and creating a truly challenging layout. Throughout, golfers are faced with dramatic elevation changes that cause tricky uneven lies but also deliver panoramic views to be enjoyed on almost every hole. There’s also a clubhouse and a driving range.
5040 Arroyo Road, Livermore