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Trip to San Francisco: Half Moon Bay or Harding Park?


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I've been browsing thru the past threads mentioning Bay Area courses as I approach a trip to SF next month. My wife has a conference there so I'll be in town with little to do during at least 3 of the 6 days I'm in town. I'll be staying in the area of the Moscone Convention center downtown and will be without a car. One of my golf buddies has mentioned Half Moon Bay and I've read about Harding Park (as well as hearing about it during the President's Cup).

Harding Park is approx. $135 during the week for a nonresident and Half Moon Bay is $160. Half Moon Bay is further being out of the City so that may play a factor ... does anyone have any other suggestions for what will likely end up being one round of golf (two at best) while there? Thanks a lot.
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i've played both, and would pick Half Moon Bay easily. Even if you're having a cr*ppy day, you've still got stunning views of the ocean. And even the drive there and back from downtown on I-280 is spectacular. Harding is nice, but agree with pace of play...took me nearly 6 hours on a weekday a few years ago--bring a book, you may have lots of waiting. One other local course is Presidio -- i remember liking the layout, but again a near 6-hour round; i'm guessing that's the norm for SF public courses.

I'd recommend renting a car though (no matter which course(s) you play), as it will be cheaper probably than cab fare (and my cabbie to Harding Park didn't even know where it was...). There's a Thrifty on O'Farrell St near Union Square where i always rent from. If you're playing the day before departure, it may save you money to rent the car, park in a garage overnight (even though they're $$), and then drive to the airport & return it there as opposed to taking a taxi.
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If you decide to play an extra round, there's an additional course at Half Moon Bay - the Old Course. Never played it though - looks like more of an inland course.
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It's been awhile since I played HMB, but the last 2 holes, with the ocean views to the left I think and in front of you? A big hotel, a big prosaic, banal hotel building.

Argh! Nothing to do with the course layout, but spoils the whole effect.
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It's been awhile since I played HMB, but the last 2 holes, with the ocean views to the left I think and in front of you? A big hotel, a big prosaic, banal hotel building. Argh! Nothing to do with the course layout, but spoils the whole effect.

The Old Course at HMB mostly is surrounded by residential areas. I've also read some like it better than the Ocean (i've not played it), but as a tourist playing vacation golf i'd still recommend the Ocean. You don't get views like that at your home course unless you live at Pebble Beach. And I don't find the hotel banal at all -- it's the Ritz Carlton, not an Econolodge, and i think it looks quite nice as a backdrop to 18 green. I think they've filmed some movies there, the last i recall being the 3rd installment of the American Pie series.

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The nicest hole of both courses is the 18th of the old course(view wise).Standing on an elevated tee box,ocean to your right and looking towards the hotel.Beautiful.
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Just drive the extra 120 miles and play at Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay . . .

But Half Moon Bay for sure - of the two.

Eat at the Slanted Door in SF. Best Vietnamese/Asian fusion restaurant EVER.
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Harding Park is worth playing at least once, check ahead of the condition of the greens and fairways. #7 was recently shortened because the fairways was too wet and did not drain properly. Lincoln golf course has the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge on holes 16 & 17, but the course is not always in great shape but relatively inexpense to play.

My pick would be to try to get on the Olympic Club and play the Lake course, where they will play the US Open in 2012. Its private so you need connection to get on, so you need to make arrangements ahead of time.
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  • 2 weeks later...

Fellas. Thx so much for the input. I was genuinely on the fence as to whether I should even bring my clubs at all on this trip. I have to purchase a travel bag and then worry about whether a couple rotten apple baggage employees will lose, break or steal my clubs to or from SFO, then I have to lug the extra bag to & from the hotel and also get transportation to the course.

After thinking about it all, I'll prolly just pay for a rental car for two days of my trip and play Half Moon Bay one day and then one of the San Francisco courses on the 2nd day although I read a review about Harding Park and the Presidio courses being so logjammed that rounds take SIX HOURS! If that's the case, I'll look for one other coastal course. Overall, I'm hyped to be playing golf while on vacation (a 1st for me) so nothing will ruin it for me. One final x-factor will be that I'll be making my tee times as an individual so hopefully I get paired with some cool people to play with
Just drive the extra 120 miles and play at Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay . . .

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If you want to play Half Moon Bay, you should join the e-club. They send out emails with sizable discounts. I just played on the weekend for $100 with the benefit of the e-club. I think you can sign up on their website. If you plan to play there I strongly suggest you join. I really think you can't go wrong with any of the 3 courses you are choosing from. Harding is a great course. The shooting range can be annoying, but it is wonderfully designed golf course and usually in excellent shape. At HMB, Ocean is a fun track that is very open and more of a links style, and the Old course has one of the best finishing holes in the Bay Area. I would play any of the 3 and I think you will be happy.
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Eat at the Slanted Door in SF. Best Vietnamese/Asian fusion restaurant EVER.

That just sounds wrong...bad choice of words for an Asian restaurant...IMO

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  • 2 weeks later...
**Update** I just returned from my trip to SF. I played the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay on Wednesday and it was a beautiful day. 64 degrees and NO wind. I usually play from the whites where I live but I was paired with 2 guys who were about 7 and 9 handicaps respectively and they played from the blues. Playing these tees proved to be of no consequence as the blues are only 300-400 yards longer.

As others have said, this course is an aesthetic marvel, but it isn't particularly long - 6400 from the blues - though there were a couple 430 yd par 4's and I bogeyed one of them. The greens were very very fast and many of them require you to play a lot of break which threw my playing partners off. The course will punish you a little for inaccurate tee shots but only a little. The rough wasn't long at all and the fairway bunkers still allowed you to shoot for the green if you were in them. The only difficult areas I can remember is that there are several smallish greens and the larger ones were very undulating. There was no wind so I know my round would've been alot more difficult had there at least been a few gusts here and there.

The end result was that I tied my best career round ever: 95. I didn't hit more than a couple fairways and only had 2 or 3 GIR so I was very proud of myself with that score. I began this year working on 3 things in particular: driving off the tee so I didn't take as many penalties for OB/lost balls, putting and chipping. With only a couple GIR/s my chipping really saved me as I only had 2 or 3 three-putts and a couple one-putts. Lastly, I one-putted the 18th with a 20 footer to end my round on a high note. Thanks for the recommendations.
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