300 Finley Road, San Francisco, CA 94129
The Presidio Golf course is located in the Presidio of San Francisco, a beautiful park area on the northernmost tip of the peninsula. It’s situated in a place that always seems to be 10 degrees colder than the rest of the city. It’s great on warm days, and really tough on cold days. Originally a 9 hole private course, it evolved to an 18 hole private course, then 18 hole military course, to now, a public facility in the city of San Francisco.
The course is only 6500 yards from the tips, but don’t let the yardage fool you. This course will be everything you can handle and then some if you play it from the tips. Short par 4s with uneven lies in the fairway or rough litter the course that keep you from ever feeling comfortable approaching the green. 14 of the 18 holes play uphill, which quickly adds yardage to the course.
What Makes This Place Special:
- Hard Par 4’s:
Holes 3 and 12 stick out as both the most challenging holes and most fun on the course. They are the two longest par 4s on the course and are challenging for different reasons. 3 is straight as an arrow with a deep and wide 3 tiered green. The tee shot is a challenge. Not only is it the narrowest on the course, and to the right is a large fall off that will put you in the 2nd fairway about 40 yards below the level of the fairway of the 3rd hole. The left side is lined with a lateral hazard of deep shrub brush.
12 is a monster. 460 yards dead into the fan and that isn’t even the toughest part. A fairway bunker protects the left side of the fairway and the direct line to the green. It is a 260 yard carry to get over the bunker, and if you can muster that in the cold and wind you will have a mid iron approach in. The safer play, hitting a ball to the right of the bunker, leaves you a 200+ yard approach from a hanging lie. 3 bunkers protect the right side of the green ready to eat up your scared pushy golf swing. If you cannot reach the hole in 2, play for the front left of the green, it leaves the simplest chip shot with the green coming straight back at you.
- Fun Par 3s:
The collection of par 3’s at the ‘Sid are fun and unique. They range from PW to 2 iron and all have some interesting elevation change to them. 4 is my personal favorite. It’s a shorty with a big green, treacherous bunkers all around it, and a huge falloff to the left of the green where balls have a tendency to disappear if hit there. Huge cypress trees surround the teeing area and run down to the hole, so you feel like you’re in a tree cave when you’re playing the hole. It’s quiet, the wind dies down, and it puts you in this world of hit a good wedge shot, or make a 4.
The Cypress Trees give the course a feeling of being in another world. They are huge, and the trees made me fall in love with the golf course. Most of the time, you want to play a golf course that has no trees and allows for plenty of width. Not here. The cypress that shoot up like skyscrapers around the property give the course a certain allure that can’t be matched anywhere I’ve played… Except the Redwoods at Northwood. They line every fairway and provide a backdrop to most greens. They are intimidating, huge, make funny noises in the wind, and are awe inspiring to look at. You forget that you’re in a city when you walk this course. The density and sheer size of the trees makes you feel like you’re in a forest in way Northern California, not in an urban playground.
Is it Worth the Time and Money?
The best time to play the ‘Sid is mid morning. The sun has began to warm the place up, the greens will be rolling true, and the crowd will be minimal. The ‘Sid has a strong group of morning regulars that can make it tough to enjoy the day if it’s your first time out. Getting out in the first few groups after them, normally on the later half of the 8:00am hour, will give you a quiet course in mint condition.
Two things I would recommend if you want to play the Presidio a lot. 1. Sign up for their mens club, it always guarantees you the SF City Rate ($69 weekdays) which is the cheapest option at any point in the day. 2. Join the Players Club. It’s $40 a month and allows you to play twilight an hour early for $20. So if you do the math, if you’re in the Players Club and play once a month, its cheaper than just paying for the round at rack rate.
The course is amazing, fun, quirky, and will for sure make you a better player. It’s a great place to develop the mental side of your game. Because of the trees and way some of the holes are sloped, theres only 1 “correct” place to hit the ball on each hole. Once you get a knack for the way to play the course, you can develop the skill of doing what is necessary to score well, which is transferrable to any golf course or tournament round.