San Francisco Golf Club | Right On Par


San Francisco Golf Club

By: | January 30, 2017 / 2 Comments

Tucked away off a major interstate down a back road in San Francisco sits one of the most historic golf courses that we have today. If you’re not careful you can easily drive past it. San Francisco Golf Club founded in 1915 by A.W. Tillinghast is one of the most exclusive courses west of the Mississippi, if not the entire world. In a recent trip to California, I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to play a round at SFGC. I only knew a few people that were lucky enough to have played this course, but with the lack of pictures and reviews I was most curious about playing this course.

After leaving my morning round at the Olympic Club (Ocean Course), where things were busy and booming, I pulled into the quite SFGC parking lot where I was one of several cars. These two San Francisco gems are separated by a mere 3.3 miles; however, they felt like they were worlds away. While you would expect an elaborate entrance, someone to greet you and ask “who are you playing with”, and a caddie to unload your clubs from your car – it’s the exact opposite. The entrance is subtle, the clubhouse is old and charming, the pro-shop is small, and the driving range is no wider than 40 yards. The simplicity was stunning.

After taking a few swings at the range with my host, we decided to head to the first tee. The first hole is a gentle Par 5 – 522y that sets the pace for the rest of the round. After playing the first several holes I began to understand why SFGC was so highly regarded in the golf community. I played many of Tillinghast gems, but this by far was the best. Walking down the Cypress / Pine tree lined fairways it was as if time stood still. The course felt as if it were 100 miles away from the closest city.

The signature hole at SFGC is the 7th hole – a 190 yd par 3 that is commonly known as the duel hole. This hole is a downhill par 3 to a two-tiered green with a pair of bunkers short left and two bunkers behind the green. The nickname “duel hole” comes from a historic event in 1859, where the final legal duel in California was fought on this green where Senator David Broderick lost to California Supreme Court Justice David Terry.

Hole 7: San Francisco Golf Club; Photo Credit: Ben Peters @sfgolfhawk

Like most of the Tillinghast courses I’ve played SFGC doesn’t beat you up. There is no water on the entire course, fairways are generous, and bunkering only penalizes you on a poor shot. The course is perfectly laid out in front of you and what you see is what you get. For a great golfer this is where you could put up a low number.

My favorite hole was hole 14. The short par 4 – 351y hole plays slightly downhill. For the long hitter you can get fairly close. The hole favors a fade or a cut to avoid the deep bunkers that come into play down the left side of the fairway. If you’re successful you will leave yourself no more than a short wedge onto a green that overlooks several holes on the property.

Hole 14: San Francisco Golf Club; Photo Credit: Ben Peters @sfgolfhawk

What the hole lacks in length is easily made up for in its well bunkered approach and fast slopping greens.

Hole 14: San Francisco Golf Club; Photo Credit: Ben Peters @sfgolfhawk

SFGC closing hole is one of the most enjoyable finishes in golf. The par 5 – 524 yd 18th plays relatively straight and can be reached in two by the long hitters. After hitting your second shot your walk to the 18th green is what completes this unbelievable experience. I was lucky enough to catch the final hole just as the sun was slowly starting to set on the evening.

Hole 18: San Francisco Golf Club; Photo Credit: Ben Peters @sfgolfhawk

After a quick goodbye to our wonderful caddie Ben Peters (who is one the better players in the area) we headed into the locker room to have a few drinks. We toured the clubhouse and my host was gracious enough to take me up into the history room. I truly hope everyone has the chance to experience SFGC.   USGA should strongly consider SFGC as future site for a Walker Cup / US Am.

San Francisco Golf Club; Photo Credit: golfjunkdrawer @golfjunkdrawer

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About Mike


Golf has always been a part of my life. Since I can remember I’ve always been swinging some type of club. Whether it was rounds at the local muni growing up in Pittsburgh, camping out at Bethpage Black or touring all of Ireland. But the game we all love really started to grow on me several years back when me and my top golfing buddy Tyler decided to take it to the next level. Words can’t describe how wonderful this journey has been. We’ve been very lucky to have played some magnificent courses but even more blessed to have met some remarkable people that we can now call friends. No matter where you live, what you do or how well you score golf is the one thing that can bring everyone together. Can’t wait to share some of our stories and hopefully connect with some liked minded golfers such as ourselves. (IG: @micpelli & @golfjunkdrawer)

2 responses to “San Francisco Golf Club”

  1. W says:

    It’s the “duel hole”, not dual

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