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Best Courses to Play in the Bay Area

Akbar Ali |


Are you coming to the Bay for Super Bowl 50? If so, you need to know that the iconic Bay Area has some amazing courses that have produced major championship winners like Johnny Miller, Ken Venturi, George Archer and Juli Inkster and has hosted four U.S. Opens. In between wine tasting in Napa and rooting for your team on Sunday, here are our picks for best course to play in the Bay. 

TPC HARDING PARK, 415-664-4690
Long beloved as host of the annual San Francisco City Championship, this layout was given new life in 2004 with an extensive and much needed renovation spurred by being named a venue for multiple Tour events.

What you'll get at this landmark course is impressive stretch of holes from the 13th through the 18th, each with views of Lake Merced (and from the 14th tee, a glimpse of the famed Olympic Club's distinctive clubhouse to the west). A rare forced carry off the tee comes on the dogleg left closing hole, which bends around the lake for 400 yards before finishing across from the two-story clubhouse.

HIDDENBROOKE, 707-558-0330
One of a handful of North Bay golf courses honored with 4.5 stars by Golf Digest, Hiddenbrooke Golf Club is a championship golf course designed by Arnold Palmer.

Located near the gateway to the world renowned Napa Valley above the City of Vallejo, the golf course has been ranked amongst the top 10 public golf courses by the Golf World Readers’ Choice Awards. The par-72, 6,782-yard course features lush greens and fairways, in addition to varying degrees of elevation changes. Each hole on the course offers at least five sets of tees. Hiddenbrooke Golf Club has also been ranked in the nation’s top five for service and value.

For its first 10 or 12 years, Half Moon Bay's Ocean course (, 650-726-1800), 23 miles south of the San Francisco Airport, was priced too high compared to what it delivered.

In the past four years, that's all changed.

Now it's worth the $189 bucks to play on the weekend in prime time-though it's considerably less during the week, and is under $100 at Twilight, after 3 p.m.

In the old days, the course played as soft and wet as any other regular NorCal course. Today, the Arthur Hills design plays firm and fast, like a classic links.

Green surrounds have been shaved and sanded, providing more ground game options. They've cut back the fairway rough, which cuts down on bad lies and ball searching time, thus speeding up play.

Brownish, irregular fescues are sprouting, lending more British Open ambiance to the proceedings. Admittedly, the front nine will always be cramped for some tastes, but on fog-free days, you get nice views of the ocean, especially on the spectacular par-4 16th and par-3 17th, which scoot along the cliff edge above the Pacific, with the handsome Ritz-Carlton in the backdrop.

At long last, this special occasion course is truly special.