Destinations / GO
• PRESIDIO GOLF COURSE
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Imagine the prospect of surplus land in San
Francisco — a fantasy in today’s real estate
scene. Yet in the late 1800s some undeveloped
acreage, primarily sand dunes on the Presidio
army base overlooking the gateway to San
Francisco Bay, caught the eye of visionary
civilians who had formed the San Francisco
Golf and Country Club. They gained permission to create a nine-hole golf course in 1895.
For nearly a century, use of the Presidio
Golf Club, expanded to 18 holes in 1910, was
restricted to military officers and the likes of
Dwight Eisenhower, Joe DiMaggio and Babe
Ruth. Then in 1994, the base was decommissioned and the land incorporated into the
NPS’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
River and four miles from the south entrance,
the nine-hole Wawona Golf Course became
the first golf course at a national park when it
opened in 1918.
Assuredly, the Scottish-born naturalist
and explorer John Muir never envisioned
fair ways and greens when blazing trails with
his hiking stick in the late 1860s. But with the
Victorian-era Wawona Hotel (1876) attracting
tourists to the nearby Mariposa giant sequoia
grove, San Francisco’s Walter G. Favarque was
commissioned to design the 3,011-yard par- 35
course to augment the area’s appeal.
It’s “surreal” operating a golf course
shaded by Ponderosa pine, incense cedars
and some of the oldest and tallest redwoods
on earth, golf shop manager Joe Edgecomb
admits. “Golfers are surprised by the difficulty
Following a $5 million refurbishing, the
6,477-yard hilly layout has since been testing
golfers with a formidable training ground for
honing uphill, sidehill and downhill shot-mak-ing skills around rows of mature eucalyptus
and Monterey pine trees lining the fair ways.
Golfers also face hurdles from swirling winds
and thick fog rushing in off the Pacific.
By the time your last putt drops, you might
feel you’ve undergone golf’s version of boot
camp, although having San Francisco as a
backdrop certainly eases the pain.
• WAWONA GOLF COURSE
Yosemite National Park
Landscaped into Yosemite National Park’s
1,189 square miles of dramatic wildlands,
alongside Highway 41 next to the Merced
FOR GOLFERS ENAMORED more of geographical set- ting than the number on their scorecard, there’s nothing like striking a ball
amid the scenery of a national park.
Fortunately, in the Golden State of
California, Mother Nature has gifted
us with three such venues, each with
its own distinct terrestrial splendor.
As the National Park Service turns 100
this year, it makes sense to celebrate the
centennial by getting out on the links.