Northern California's Sharp Park Golf Course safe for now
This past weekend, Sharp Park Golf Course, a Pacifica, Calif., seaside municipal golf links built in 1932 by master architect Alister MacKenzie, celebrated its 80th anniversary. But how many more will it get?
The course has been threatened by a lawsuit brought in 2011 by a collection of conservation groups, which claim that golf harms endangered frogs and snakes that inhabit wetlands on the golf course. In April, that suit was stayed by Federal Judge Susan Illston, who shelved the legal proceedings pending a Biological Opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is due to render its Opinion sometime in September. Last Novemeber, Judge Illston denied the conservationists? motion for a preliminary injunction to halt golf operations at the course.
“The frogs and snakes wouldn’t even be there if it weren’t for the golf course,” says Lisa Villasenor, a Pacifica resident and member of the Women’s Club. “We golfers are stewards of this beautiful place. Golfers are light on the land, and their presence actually protects these creatures from their animal predators, such as dogs, cats, and small mammals like raccoons. The golf course is also the social and economic heart of Pacifica’s Sharp Parkdistrict. Folks here love this place, and that’s why we’re celebrating it and working hard to preserve it.”
MacKenzie, in case you haven’t heard, is best know for building courses like Cypress Point at Pebble Beach and Augusta National, so you can understand why there would be a movement to preserve this golf course. So this past weekend, more than 250 people showed up for a tournament to not only mark the anniversary but also raise money to preserve the golf course.
Sharp Park is designated as an “historical resource” under the California Environmental Quality Act by the Planning Department of the city and county of San Francisco (even though it’s in San Mateo County), which owns the property. The golf course is also listed as a threatened nationally-significant cultural landscape by the Cultural Landscape Foundation of Washington, D.C.
Former U.S. Open winner and San Francisco resident Ken Venturi, calls Sharp Park “Alister MacKenzie’s great gift to the American public golfer,” because of its Scottish seaside links character, distinguished architecture, great natural beauty, and modest greens fees. In December 2011, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee vetoed a Board of Supervisors resolution designed to lead to closure of the golf course.
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