Harding Park

No. 16 at Harding Park, which was used as No. 13 in the 2009 Presidents Cup.
No. 16 at Harding Park, which was used as No. 13 in the 2009 Presidents Cup.

Monday, October 5, 2009

1. Ease and intimacy of routing: 7 (regular layout) / 4 (Presidents Cup)

Regular routing is a simple counter-clockwise interior loop for the front nine that returns to the clubhouse and a large clockwise exterior loop for the back. Presidents Cup routing is aimed at drama, but requires awkward long walks and doubling back.

2. Quality of feature shaping: 5

Everything from the mounds to the greens and bunkers betray a manufactured look.

3. Natural setting and overall land plan: 6

Set on an isthmus but would benefit from more exposure to the water.

4. Interest of greens and surrounding chipping contours: 7

Bentgrass/Poa surfaces offer low-key contours and slight decks, and every green has at least one tucked hole location.

5. Variety and memorability of par 3s: 6

Visual differentiation is not strong. Tough 164-yard 14th hole plays to a tiny green. The long, downhill 11th is the scariest, as the green falls out sharply on the left.

6. Variety and memorability of par 4s: 5

Good flexibility in length, but fairway bunkers are a minimal hazard on full drives, and there’s no strong incentive for playing sides of fairways to greens.

7. Variety and memorability of par 5s: 5

Demanding tee shots to secure proper position to go for the green in two, but the layup shots are indifferent.

8. Basic conditioning: 6

Dense bluegrass and perennial ryegrass turf, with light rough throughout. A fertilizer burn on several greens in mid-July is healing, but the second and 17th greens still will show damage around the edges.

9. Landscape and tree management: 7

Tall eucalyptus trees are very dramatic, with their high flat canopies looking like a serving tray held aloft in a waiter’s arm. Tall trees everywhere convey maturity, though the effect is also of uniformity rather than angles and variance in playing corridors.

10. “Walk in the park” test: 6

Elegant presentation, even if with too much sameness of feeling throughout. The welcome exception is Nos. 12-15, where doglegs bring the water closer to play and there finally are some angles that count.

Overall: 6.0

Pleasant, functional and a shade below inspiring. But Bay Area public golf is better off with it than without it.

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• • •

• 99 Harding Road, San Francisco, CA 94132, 415-664-4690; www.harding-park.com

• Owned and maintained by San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks

• Golf operations managed by Kemper Sports

• San Francisco resident card holders: $46-$59 (optional cart $13 per rider)

• Northern California resident rate: $89-$99 (optional cart included)

• Outside Northern California rate: $135-$155 (optional cart included)

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