An inside look at TPC Harding Park, which will host three huge golf events in the next 10 years
July 02, 2014
TPC Harding Park to host big events
On Wednesday from the steps of San Francisco's City Hall, the news became official -- TPC Harding Park will host the 2015 World Golf Championships-Match Play Championship, the 2020 PGA Championship and the 2025 Presidents Cup.
That announcement may well be unprecedented in the history of any golf course in America. In a single moment, TPC Harding Park became the venue for three of the biggest tournaments on any PGA TOUR calendar. It will be the first TPC to host a major championship.
"Harding Park will always be referred to as a major championship venue, which in and of itself is a really terrific thing for any golf course," PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said. It illustrates the stunning resurrection for the Bay Area gem, that had fallen into extreme disrepair the late 20th century that it was used as a parking lot for the 1998 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club.
To get your familiar with a course that will be in the news for at least the next 10 years, here's all you need to know about TPC Harding Park.
TPC Harding Park: Resurrection
KEY MOMENTS IN TPC HARDING PARK HISTORY
• Harding Park opens for play in 1925 after a design by noted architects Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, who also oversaw the construction of the nearby Olympic Club. Watson and Whiting charged the city $300 for their services, with construction costs coming in just under $300,000.
• Officials named the course in the southwest corner of the city alongside Lake Merced after President Warren G. Harding. The 29th President of the United States was an avid golfer who died at the Palace Hotel on Aug. 2, 1923, during a visit to San Francisco.
• The course became immediately popular and gained national notoriety when the United States Golf Association selected the course to host the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 1937.
• In 1944, professional golf arrived at Harding Park, with Byron Nelson outlasting Harold “Jug” McSpaden to win the San Francisco Victory Open.
• The PGA TOUR made Harding Park a TOUR stop in 1961 when it added the Lucky International to its tournament schedule. The Lucky International was played from 1961 to 1968 (there was no tournament in 1967).
• While its signature event was the San Francisco City Championship, which attracted the best amateurs from California, a slow deterioration of the course began as it went from a jewel in the Bay Area to nothing more than what some described as a clover patch by the 1980s. A San Francisco Chronicle story described the course: “Weeds, clusters of daisies and splotches of dirt came to characterize this once-pristine layout.”
• Frank “Sandy” Tatum, a former USGA president who had played in the San Francisco City Championship while attending Stanford University, became instrumental in turning around Harding Park’s fortunes. As part of the renovation process, Tatum eventually turned to the PGA TOUR and the International Federation of PGA Tours, the governing body for the World Golf Championships, and the course was named host to an WGC event. In advance of the event, Harding Park underwent a 15-month renovation project that expanded the course from 6,743 yards to around 7,200 yards.
• The course reopened on Aug. 22, 2003, with the World Golf Championships event held there in October 2005, with Tiger Woods defeating John Daly in a playoff.
• The Presidents Cup, a biennial competition between U.S. players and players from all countries outside of Europe, is held at Harding Park in October 2009, with the American team winning.
• Harding Park is added to the PGA TOUR’s prestigious TPC Network of clubs in November 2010. Entering a partnership between the PGA TOUR and the City of San Francisco, TPC Harding Park operates under no management fees, thus allowing both the city and the TOUR to give back to local communities through charitable donations.
• TPC Harding Park host the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in 2010, 2011 and 2013, the decisive event on the Champions Tour that determines the Charles Schwab Cup champion.
Tiger wins 2005 WGC-American Express Championship
PLAYER QUOTES ON HARDING PARK
TIGER WOODS: “I have great memories of Harding Park, and it’s good to see the PGA Championship played at a public golf course. Significant renovations were made to the course, and it’s exciting that this is the first PGA Championship in San Francisco.”
PHIL MICKELSON: “Harding Park was an excellent host for the WGC event and The Presidents Cup. It deserves the opportunity to now host a major championship and I am excited for the course and the city to have one of golf’s biggest events.”
Reaction from 2005 World Golf Championships-American Express
WOODS: It’s a lot different golf course than when I played it. It’s certainly not the golf course when I was up here when I was pretty young playing it. It’s unbelievable how much they’ve changed the golf course. It used to be kind of a basically clover field out here. The greens are unbelievable, perfectly smooth, and it’s just hard to believe what they’ve done here.
MICKELSON: "It’s a wonderful golf course. I think we all know that, and the renovations have been incredible.
JOHNNY MILLER: "It’s where I learned the game. I just loved going there. It was the prized gem that everyone could play. It’s finally been brought back to what it should be."
Reaction from Presidents Cup and Charles Schwab Cup Championship participants
MICKELSON: We don't see Harding Park as a stereotypical public course. It's such a great and challenging layout, it's long and it's tough and it's in great shape and requires a lot of shot-making around these thick trees that I think this is a wonderful venue.
ZACH JOHNSON: I think it's great. I think San Francisco in general is an awesome venue. The people here have embraced us. Having it at a municipal golf course is just so, so cool. It's something that California, San Francisco can take pride in, but certainly the PGA TOUR and all of us. We are talking about a classic golf course that to this day still remains competitive and one that's going to showcase great golf.
JAY HAAS, 2015 U.S. Presidents Cup captain: “I think it’s a great move. It’s a great course and (makes for) great theater. When the course is in good shape, it’s as good as it gets. The fans of San Francisco support us when we’re out there, it’s a good area for sports. It’s long enough – the ball doesn’t seem to go as far out there, at least not for me. If they need to make it longer, they’ve got some room.”
FRED FUNK: “I think (Harding Park) is awesome. It’s one of the best, a great layout. Aesthetically it’s gorgeous with beautiful trees and very demanding, just very good.
“They can make it plenty hard.”
KENNY PERRY: “Well it's a very difficult golf course. For being a public golf course owner as myself, I really love it being a public facility, I just think that's too cool.
“But it's a big golf course … it's got a good test of long holes and short holes and it's got some disastrous holes along the water that you can really make some big numbers on. It's a great test.
“I think it's more of a ball strikers golf course. I think you can't get away with only hitting 10 greens a round, you need to hit 12 to 14 greens in regulation and give yourself some opportunities. That's what I enjoy about it. It's a mix, it's a great mix of holes and it's a very stern test.”
United States team basks in glow of 2009 Presidents Cup victory
|HOW HARDING PARK PLAYED AT 2005 WGC-AMERICAN EXPRESS CHAMPIONSHIP|
WINNERS AT TPC HARDING PARK
Charles Schwab Cup Championship
2013: Fred Couples
2011: Jay Don Blake
2010: John Cook
World Golf Championships-American Express Invitational
2005: Tiger Woods
San Francisco Victory Open
1944: Byron Nelson
Golden Gate Championship
1959: Mason Rudolph
1961: Gary Player
1962: Gene Littler
1963: Jack Burke, Jr.
1964: Chi Chi Rodriguez
1965: George Archer
1966: Ken Venturi
1968: Billy Casper
San Francisco City Championship
1950: Ken Venturi – 1964 U.S. Open champion
1953: Ken Venturi
1955: E. Harvie Ward – former British and U.S. Amateur champion
1956: Ken Venturi
1963: George Archer – 1969 Masters champion
1979: Juli Simpson (Inkster) – seven-time LPGA major winner
1981: Juli (Simpson) Inkster
1998: Dorothy Delasin – four-time LPGA winner
U.S. Amateur Public Links
1937: Bruce N. McCormick
1956: James H. Buxbaum
TPC Harding Park Course Gallery:
The Presidents Cup, PGA Championship and World Golf Championships-Match Play trophies around San Francisco: