May 28, 2012
Golf Gods smile on 80th Anniversary Celebration at Alister MacKenzie's Sharp Park Golf Course
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PACIFICA, CA: The Golf Gods provided clear skies, warm temperatures, and mild sea breezes. Immortal golf architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie designed the playing field. And 300-plus golfers, Pacifica residents, and golf and community leaders gathered on Saturday, May 19 to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of MacKenzie’s Sharp Park with a tournament at the venerable public links. The course is located in this beachside suburb, 10 miles south of San Francisco’s Olympic Club, host of the 2012 U.S. Open Golf Championship.
“It was a great day,” said Pacifica resident, Sharp Park Women’s Club member, and tournament organizer Lisa Villasenor. “It was like a birthday party for a dear old friend: you throw a party to show your love and to celebrate their life.”
The May 19 event commemorated Sharp Park’s opening in Spring, 1932, and was hosted by the Pacifica Historical Society, Pacifica Chamber of Commerce, Sharp Park Men’s and Women’s Golf Clubs, and the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, whose Honorary Chairman, 1964 U.S. Open winner Ken Venturi, calls Sharp Park “Alister MacKenzie’s great gift to the American public golfer.”
The National Trust for Historic Preservation designates May as National Preservation Month. Sharp Park is officially declared an “historical resource” by both San Francisco and Pacifica, and by a Resolution of the California Legislature, dated May 19, 2012 and authored by Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and State Senator Dr. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco). That Resolution “encourage[s] the residents of San Francisco and San Mateo counties to participate in efforts to preserve the historic Sharp Park Golf Course.”
PING, the golf manufacturer founded in San Mateo County in the early 1960’s, was the lead sponsor. PING spokesman Alan Solheim told the post-golf crowd how he and his brother, current PING president John Solheim, assembled the first PING putters with their father, company founder Karsten Solheim, in the garage of the family home in nearby Redwood City. Other sponsors included the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, the Northern and Southern California Golf Associations, the Fry’s.com Open, and Golf Mart. The festivities were attended by several San Francisco and San Mateo County political figures, two dozen high school, college, and First Tee junior golfers, and golf notables including Northern California Golf Association Executive Director Lyn Nelson and leading architect and MacKenzie authority Tom Doak. The program was emceed by golf writer and KNBR Radio host Brian Murphy.
The golfing highlight of the day was a hole-in-one by Larry Abella, of the NetSuite team, on Sharp Park’s toughest hole, the 190-yard uphill Par-3 Fifth Hole. Closest-to-the-pin contests were won by San Francisco dentist Weyland Lum, and Palo Alto’s Nancy Anderson.
Faces in the crowd included San Franciscan Clarence Bryant, a retired Federal Aviation Agency engineer, who in 1955 at Sharp Park played in the inaugural tournament of the Western States Golf Association, one of the country’s oldest and largest African-American golfing societies. “Sharp Park is The People’s Course,” Bryant said. “It has a wonderful tradition of being inviting and affordable to people of every culture, income, and walk of life. We need places like this. We need to keep Sharp Park open.”
The 80th Anniversary Tournament was a fundraiser for the golfers’ fight to preserve the historic course. In recent years, Sharp Park has been under attack from environmental activists, who in February, 2011 brought suit in Federal Court in San Francisco to close the course, claiming that golf kills endangered frogs and snakes. In April, 2012, Federal Judge Susan Illston denied the environmentalists’ motion for summary judgment, and instead issued an order staying the litigation, pending completion of a study and Biological Opinion from the Federal Fish & Wildlife Agency’s Sacramento Office. That report is due by mid-September, 2012.
(For a copy of the California State Assembly Resolution, see: http://www.sfpublicgolf.com/LiteratureRetrieve.aspx?ID=105880.)
Richard Harris: 415-290-5718; firstname.lastname@example.org
Bo Links: 415-393-8099; email@example.com