OK, so you’re not Lydia Ko and you can’t get into Lake Merced Golf Club except to watch the LPGA play. There’s still plenty of good golf, and even good weather, around the San Francisco Bay for women who want to play.

A few caveats, though. The finest golf courses in what’s known in these parts as “The City,” never Frisco or (Lydia notwithstanding) FrisKO, do not cater to visitors. They’re the private clubs like Lake Merced, the historic Olympic Club, and the ultra-private San Francisco Golf Club. The city’s municipal courses, even Harding Park, host to several PGA Tour events, lack basic on-course facilities—i.e. plumbing—that female golfers have come to expect.

Then there’s the weather. Mark Twain wasn’t kidding: Summer is winter in San Francisco. The fog can stay for days at a time and make golf a cold, damp and windy exercise.

But that weather can feel romantic and exhilarating. Or, you can take a ride and gain 40 degrees in an hour. So toss out the caveats and get your ticket to one of the world’s most beautiful cities, in one of the world’s most glorious regions, Northern California!


San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, so the symbols are for comparative purposes only and bear no resemblance to what you might pay at home. Expect to pay $100 and up for golf, no less than $200 nightly for clean, safe accommodations and at least $60 for a three-course dinner with a glass of wine.


Presidio Golf Course ($$)

This is THE public course to play in San Francisco, and it’s equally gorgeous with the fog nipping the tops of the cypress, pines, and eucalyptus or with a clear blue backdrop. Built in 1895, it’s undergone many changes as it transitioned from an Army-and-guests course to public play in 1995. Most recently, the forward tees were moved up and a new option was added to compensate for the brisk air, hillside lies, and damp turf (4,068 gold, 4,876 reds). Combine that with an elegant, Spanish-style clubhouse and a quaint turn shack, and the Presidio is more women-welcoming than ever.

Half Moon Bay Golf Links ($$$)

A lovely, 25-mile drive south along the coast takes the visitor into the charming, seaside town of Half Moon Bay, a left off Highway 1 South. The golfer, though, will turn right into a fancy development of big homes and drive past the almost gothic-looking, Ritz Carlton on the cliffs to the tiny clubhouse for two memorable 18s. With forward tees at about 4,800 yards and ocean views from any hole, the Ocean Course would be the visitor’s choice. But locals love the Old Course for its layout, walkability, and character. Plan for wind and be thankful for the occasional warm, sunny day.