Golf community rallies to save Sharp Park

May 3, 2011
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An overflow crowd of Bay Area public golfers, golf dignitaries, local residents, and political and public officials from San Francisco and San Mateo County rallied April 28 at the Sharp Park Golf Course to defend the 80-year-old landmark against the long-running effort by the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity to close the course.

“We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously,” San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg said in a prepared statement read by San Francisco Public Golf Alliance co-founder Bo Links. “But we are committed to maintaining golf at Sharp Park as a valued recreational pastime at this historic and beautiful golfing venue.”

Included in the crowd were San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley, Pacifica City Councilman Len Stone, former Mayor Julie Lancelle, San Mateo County Community College Board President Richard Holober, Pacifica Concerned Citizens Coalition Chairwoman Barbara Arietta, the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce and Laborers’ Union Local 261.
Ken Venturi, who learned golf in the 1940s at Sharp Park and San Francisco’s other public courses, urged the crowd in a written statement to defend the course “with your time, your money, and your passion. Do not let anybody destroy Sharp Park.” Venturi is the honorary chairman of the Public Golf Alliance, and the 1964 United States Open champion. Other golf notables included former U.S. Golf Association President Sandy Tatum and California Alliance for Golf representative Emmy Moore Minister.

Opened in 1932 and designed by preeminent architect Alister MacKenzie, Sharp Park was targeted in a federal court lawsuit filed March 2, 2011 under the Endangered Species Act by activist organizations led by the Center for Biological Diversity. Since 2007, CBD has been campaigning, along with its co-plaintiff the National Parks Conservation Association, to close the golf course and have the property annexed to the adjoining Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

In December, 2009, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission unanimously voted to reject the close-the-course option, following a six-month study and public hearings in which San Francisco’s environmental consultants recommended that the best and most cost-effective solution for environmental problems at the course would be to keep the 18-hole course open, but redesign some holes to enhance habitat for the protected San Francisco garter snake and California red-legged frog.

Center for Biological Diversity has continued to fight the Recreation and Park Department’s Sharp Park Plan, and at a CBD-sponsored rally at San Francisco City Hall on April 29, 2011, San Francisco Supervisor and candidate for mayor John Avalos announced to a CBD-sponsored rally that Avalos would introduce proposed legislation to the Board of Supervisors to transfer Sharp Park to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.