Photo Essay

Historic Sharp Park Under Fire

November 2011
Sharp Park
Nov. 18 is an important day for golfers such as (left to right) Roland Martin, Joey Ilumin and Nathaniel Davis, who are regulars at Sharp Park golf course in Pacifica, Calif. A popular muny operated by the City of San Francisco, Sharp Park, designed by Hall of Fame architect Alister Mackenzie and opened in 1932, has been under attack by environmental groups that contend it harms two endangered species, the San Francisco garter snake and California red-legged frog.

The conflict takes another turn Nov. 18 when U.S. District Court judge Susan Ilston will hear the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction to stop mowing on holes 10-18 and cease pumping in Horse Stable Pond -- actions that the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, fighting vigorously with the city to save the course, say are "measures which would effectively destroy" it. Sharp Park advocates contend the endangered species have coexisted well with the golf course for decades and that there are a number of reasons closing the layout would hurt, not help, the snake and the frog.

While both sides plotted their legal strategies earlier this month, many golfers continued to enjoy Sharp Park, hopeful their course will endure. "The plantiffs think everything man has done is terrible and needs to be reversed," says Bo Links, who co-founded the SFPGA with Richard Harris. "Forget that Sharp Park is a historic property -- to take something that's been there for 80 years and pull it up by the roots is nonsense."

UPDATE: The preliminary injunction sought by opponents of Sharp Park to stop pumping and mowing on half of the layout -- measures that would have effectively shut it down -- has been denied by judge Illston. While the ruling is good news for the course in the short term, the case is still expected to go to trial next July.
Sharp Park, 18th hole

With the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean, a golfer hustles to putt out at No. 18 late on breezy afternoon. "The sensible outcome -- continued use of a popular activity and strict protection for wildlife -- is already on the table," the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in a Sept. 18 editorial supporting Sharp Park's survival as a golf course. "Both golfers and naturalists -- if there's a difference -- should be pleased with the path being followed. It's not time to give up on Sharp Park as an affordable golfing destination."

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