stories by joe rosato jr

Presidio Golf Course to Reopen for Golf — Bumming Out Non-Golfing Visitors

NBC Universal, Inc.

While the reopening of golf courses across the state is welcome news to golfers, it wasn’t exactly great news for visitors who since mid-March have had the run of San Francisco’s Presidio Golf Course. 

The course is set to reopen for golf on Monday, ending the free reign the public has enjoyed since the Presidio Trust temporarily opened the 125-acre course to general park use. Every day since then, visitors have held picnics on the greens, thrown frisbees across the fairways while kids played in the sand traps. 

“Everyone’s having a great time,” said Abhas Gupta who brought his children to play in the park. “It’s like a great place to bring your kids, get some space.”

Unlike the Presidio’s more wooded areas, the golf course offered a unique open space for visitors with spectacular vistas of the grounds and distant hills.

On Thursday, as people lounged on the vast lawns, the golf course’s crews were busily mowing the grass, and whipping the course back into golf shape. 

“It’s basically just taking the mowing heights back down to playing conditions,” said Presidio Golf Course executive director Don Chilemedos.

Kate Latham
Nanny Kate Latham blows bubbles with her two charges in the Presidio Golf Course, which will reopen to golf this Monday. (April 27, 2020)

Chilemedos said even after Monday’s reopening, the course’s pro shop and restaurant would remain closed. He said golfers would book and pay for sessions by phone or online, reducing person-to-person contact. He said social distancing would become par for the course. 

“We’re going to have about the same amount of people out on the golf course,” Chelemedos said. “It’s just they’ll be spread over 125 acres, as opposed to these thirteen acres right here.” 

The good news for golfers posed bad news for families who’ve gotten used to stretching out on the runway-sized lawns, walking and riding bikes on paths still bearing signs warning “golfers only.” 

“It’s a bummer, it’s really nice,” said Gupta. “Especially at a time like this, it’s really great to get some space with the kids.” 

Dan Rubinsky, who was crawling in a sand trap playing cars with his son, was also sad to hear the park would soon revert to its primary use. 

“I am disappointed because there’s a great bike path for the kids,” Rubinsky said. 

But visitor Greg Nelson took a middle-ground view of the pending return of golf. 

“It was good while it was here and then the people can come back and golf,” Nelson said, “so I think it works out for everyone.” 

Chelemedos said he understood the frustration of visitors who’ve been enjoying the rare chance to recreate on the open course. He said for the most part the temporary reuse worked out — aside from a soccer team running the lawns in cleats, and dogs “leaving presents” on the lawns. 

He posed that even though the course was closing to the general public, there were many other options for people to get out of their homes. 

“That’s the nice thing about the Presidio,” Chelemedos said. “Although we have 125 acres here, there’s an additional thousand acres right behind us.”

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