SAN JOSE, Calif. – When I'm home – which is all the time these days because of the pandemic – I'm just like every other golfer.
I want to play with my buds on a decent course that doesn't dent the wallet. That's hard to do in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I lived in Michigan, I could find any number of excellent public courses in metro Detroit for less than $50. Since moving west, I've had to expand my budget. Now, anything less than $80 seems like a bargain.
The last six years I've explored the region for the best combination of affordability against the quality of the course. With the 2020 PGA Championship coming to the TPC Harding Park, I'm diving deep into the Bay Area golf scene to identify its best public courses.
I kept this list as tight to the Bay Area as possible: No Napa (Silverado). No Monterey (Pebble & friends). No Santa Cruz (Pasatiempo). I also excluded CordeValle in San Martin (essentially south San Jose) because you have to stay at the Rosewood to play it. My selections are true public green spaces, open to all.
I regret leaving out some intriguing options. Santa Teresa, a county muni that's my home course, is never in bad shape and sports a fun back nine. The nine-hole Gleneagles Golf Course at McLaren Park is a local San Francisco favorite that has had its struggles, unfortunately. Lincoln Park boasts views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
If I stretched my boundaries a bit, I could have gone north to the Links at Bodega Harbor in Bodega Bay or south to San Juan Hills near Hollister. Hiddenbrooke to the east in Vallejo has a decent reputation, but its three most recent reviews as I write this story are two stars or less due to struggling summer conditions, so it didn't make the cut.
Here are my top 10 selections (in no order). Whether you agree or disagree, let us know in the comments below: