News & Events

Photo: Golf In The Time Of Coronavirus:  Golfers flock to SF public links

Golf In The Time Of Coronavirus:  Golfers flock to SF public links

Jul 21, 2020by - San Francisco Public Golf Alliance

Golfers returned in force to San Francisco’s public golf links in May and June, following the COVID-19 golf lockouts in March and April. Golf data gathered from course operators and the San Francisco Rec & Park Department show that total 2020 May-June rounds were up over 2019 by 114% at Sharp Park, 30% at Lincoln Park, and 60% at Gleneagles – despite the fact that golf in May was limited to 2-somes, and despite severe golf cart shortages at both Sharp and Lincoln.

Course May June 2 Month Total
Sharp Park 2019 1,586 2,449 4,035
Sharp Park 2020 3,537 5,079 8,8616
Sharp Park % Increase 123% 103%


Lincoln Park 2019 2,157 2,847 5,004
Lincoln Park 2020 2,388 4,020 6,403
Lincoln Park % Increase 11% 41%


Gleneagles 2019 713 816 1,529
Gleneagles 2020 1,150 1,286 2,436
Gleneagles % Increase 61% 58%



These increases offset reduced play at Harding, Fleming, and the Golden Gate Park 9, due to various factors. (Preparation of the Harding and Fleming courses for the PGA Championship, originally scheduled for May and then rescheduled for the first week of August, resulted in Fleming being closed since February, and a 30% reduction in play at Harding in May. Rounds returned to same-as 2019 levels at Harding in June; but as of mid-July, Harding will be closed through the PGA Championship in first week of August, for more tournament preparation.)

Lincoln Park course manager Lance Wong in his 'dress mask' - "No Mask No Service"

Commenting on the increased play, course manager Lance Wong at Lincoln pointed to the combined effects of a dry winter and new Covid-19 work-from-home employment options.

“Because of the dry winter, our fairways have been playable all Spring. And since the courses reopened in May, we’re seeing strong play from early morning through the evening hours, from a lot of new players,” Lance says. “They can get out for a walk with their friends, keep a safe social distance, and enjoy the game. The restaurants and the theaters and bars are closed, and there’s no sports to speak of on TV, so a lot of people are finding the golf courses are a great option.”

Wong wisely combined bar and starter window 

Putting the San Francisco figures in context, the play figures from Crystal Springs in Burlingame and Metropolitan in Oakland show strongly increased play at both courses: At Crystal Springs, golf rounds for combined May and June were up 29% over 2019, while at Metropolitan the increase was 45% for the same period. Combined play for May-June at Presidio was about the same as in 2019. Data from Sagacity, a Phoenix golf data service, shows that combined play at 24 Bay Area public courses for the months of May and June, 2020 – following reopening from the COVID-19 lockdown – was up 14% in May and 17% in June over the 2017-2019 averages for these months.

Busy Presidio driving range - masks required getting to / from open spots - optional while hitting

These are not apples-to-apples comparisons, as the COVID-19 restrictions on golf may vary from county-to-county, on issues such as use of golf carts, and size of groups. (In San Francisco, play was limited on all courses in May to twosomes and 10-minute intervals except for the 3-par Golden Gate Park 9, where the tee interval is 15 minutes.)

Lincoln Park 4th Hole - It's easy to safely maintain social distancing on a golf course

But the bottom-line is this. Because of its inherent social distancing and the controlled access to a single starting point (the first tee), the public golf courses have proven to be a popular and safe recreational option. And the golfers – old and new – are responding by turning-out for their "good walk spoiled".