San Francisco Golf Club - Top 100 Golf Courses of the World
San Francisco, USA
California - Best In State Golf Courses  California - Best In State Golf Courses USA  USA World RankingWorld Ranking
San Francisco Golf Club
Junipero Serra Blvd
San Francisco
California (CA) 94132
ArchitectA. W. Tillinghast, Tom Doak
Head Professional/Director of GolfRichard S. Rhoads
Telephone+1 415 469 4122
Location10 miles S of San Francisco
VisitorsMembers and their guests only
Club Secretary/ ManagerMargaret Vierra

California Best In State Golf Courses


Albert Warren Tillinghast was probably the greatest American golf course architect of his day and “Tilly” was the genius who crafted San Francisco in 1915. 

“Now Tillinghast’s genius was being given free rein and it shone brightly out in California as well, at the San Francisco Golf Club.” Wrote Philip Young in the book entitled: Tillinghast – Creator of Golf Courses. “There are those who, to this day, after viewing all of his great courses, believe this to be his finest work.” 

The following comments were kindly provided by Tom Doak: 

About 8-9 years ago we rebuilt all of the greens at SFGC in order to combat nematode infestation which had gone beyond the bounds of chemical control.  We had to rebuild some of the greenside bunkers as part of that, and at the same time, we restored a few fairway bunkers that had been filled over the years, on holes 1 and 17. We added back tees on holes 2, 3, 6, and 9 as well. 

About 5 years ago, we rebuilt holes 13-14-15 to the original Tillinghast design. Those three holes had been completely re-routed in 1949-50 by a local club professional, Harold Sampson, when the highway on the eastern boundary of the course was being expanded. 

It's a bit hard to describe exactly what we did, without knowing which version of the course you are familiar with. This restoration was a cause of some heavy political infighting at the club: almost none of the members remembered the course prior to 1949, so to them it was a redesign, and a few of the opponents of the project are still critics of the work, even though no one has argued that what we did wasn't true to form. 
Situated close to Golden Gate Bridge, the course was not only the first remarkable example of the great architect’s craft, it was also the first course of any real quality to be constructed on the West Coast of America. 

Laid out on a rolling pine-forested landscape near Lake Merced, the course stretches out across a number of valleys and ravines with the front nine occupying the most dramatic terrain. It’s here that one of Tilly’s favourite holes, the appropriately named par three 7th “Duel Hole,” is located. 

This short hole is situated on the site of the last legal duel in American history (when a Supreme Court Justice shot and killed a US Senator in 1859) and it plays downhill to a small kidney-shaped green that drops off to the right. 

The par three 13th hole (recently restored by Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design firm) is another great one-shotter on a back nine that finishes, like the outward half, with a wonderful par five hole. With no cart paths or yardage markers to distract on the fairways, a round here with a member at San Francisco is one to savour.

If the above course review article is not accurate, let us know by clicking here

Average Reviewers Score:      
When I think of tradition, history, privilege and a golf course which silently narrates the genius of times gone by, the San Francisco Golf Club is second to none. A.W. Tillinghast visited the Bay Area and created a layout which could only be described as architectural brilliance. The course challenges all golfing abilities, testing finesse, accuracy and imagination. It’s an honour to walk this property and learn about the many contributions that this club San Francisco Golf Course - Photo by reviewerhas made to American golf history. Those who are fortunate to enter the gates and tee it up will walk away short of breath. With a membership which once included golfing legends such as Eddie Lowry, this club is dripping with history. The gentleman and ladies, which compose the sacred membership, are incredibly proud, courteous, privileged and uphold all of the fine traditions of this game. While standing on the 11th tee, my heart was touched by none other but the former USGA President and living legend, Sandy Tatum. Time stood still as we watched the 93 year old send his drive down the middle of the 15th fairway, followed by a courtesy tip of the cap. Seeing him swing the club truly inspired me and reminded us that San Francisco Golf Club is a shining jewel amongst a constellation of golfing stars. Upstairs in the clubhouse, the club recently opened a History Room filled with pictures, books, and trophies for all to enjoy and soak up the club’s glorious evolution.
09 December 2013 Respond to above review
Without question one of the most underrated courses on the top 100 list.....I played here in early November and was overwhelmed by the variety of shots that presented themselves over the course of 18 holes. The greens roll true and pure and the grooming of the course is as good as it gets..... A previous review mentions that there is not any truly memorable holes....standing on the 7th tee and staring down at the 7th green and back up the 8th fairway was one of the best true golf views in the game..... The course does not have any gimmicks or is just purely a true test of golf...... Walking down the 18th I felt very much like I had playes a tillinghast masterpiece...... Definitely a must play......should be higher rated....
19 February 2012 Respond to above review
Managed to play this course about 10 years ago when I worked there as a caddy during the summer. I'm from Ireland, where everyone and anyone has probably played Ballybunion, Waterville and Portrush, so I was not used to places like this. Probably a couple of hundred members. Exclusive would not describe it. The Olympic Club, which is an exclusive club in its own right, is across the road and I was told that members there dream of getting into San Francisco.

Apparently there has never been a professional or major amateur tournament here. Makes one wonder when the back tees are used, which would make this place a hell of a challenge. As a low handicapper, there is one outstanding aspect of San Francisco; everything will be tested here. Course-management, bunker play (definitely!), long and short game, this place is a complete test. No weak holes whatsoever, every shot needs to be measured and thought through with respect to the next, except maybe for the drive into the enormous first fairway.

So why only 5 stars? Well, the one aspect of the course that left me a bit cold is that it can be quite difficult to think of a stand-out hole that is genuinely thrilling to play. There is definitely no 12th at Augusta, 15th at Ballybunion, 9th at Turnberry or 18th at Pebble Beach here. And for me personally that is one of the really thrilling things about golf, negotiating some spectacular landscape, be it natural or otherwise. So anyway, definitely play this course if you have the chance, it really is superb. Just no need for the camera, showing pictures might make your friends wonder what the fuss is about:-)
27 October 2010 Respond to above review
I was very lucky to have the chance to play this course several times as a teenager in the late 80's because I was a caddie there. I've played Pinehurst #2, Sea Island and many other wonderful golf courses but my heart will always love SFGC's better than any! I can remember being the first one on the course early one monday morning with dew still on the course and as I left the first tee looking back seeing only my foot prints in the fairway felt like I was in heaven. I can't say enough good things about this course to explain it, maybe total serenity puts it best! Maybe when I retire from the Army I'll get lucky enough to play it again. SSG Gresham
21 October 2007 Respond to above review
I have played 4 courses in the top 10 ( including Pebble Beach ) but San Francisco at 41 is my favourite. I have been lucky enough to play this course half a dozen times with a friend who is a member and it just gets better each time. The greens are the best and quickest that I have experienced.There are no gimmicks here , no water and no breathtaking scenary,just one great golf hole after another. The clubhouse is worth a mention,very old school,you could easily be at Walton Heath which is refreshing for country club USA.
07 August 2007 Respond to above review
I am fortunate enough to have played SFGC several tiems with a member/friend. The excellence of this course cannot be overstated. I have not played Augusta, but I think the third hole here is amongst the finest in the world. Each hole has its challenges, and now that the course has been restored to its original design it is even better. Do not ever turn down a chance to play here!
16 May 2007 Respond to above review
Played this course in Sept of 05. True old school. Dungeon for a locker room. Great layout. Straight-forward par 5's, long tough par 3's and tremendous greens. Misty day in the 50's and loved every minute of it. Good luck getting on this course.
26 September 2006 Respond to above review
Played San Francisco in January 2006. It is an unbelievably tremendous course. It incorporates the finest bunkering of any course that you will ever play.Tillinghast's best design!!
24 August 2006 Respond to above review
Played this course in 2002 and it was one of the highlights of our tour. Sadly the greens were all out of action as they were relaying them. Stunning course and wonderful clubhouse. If you can get a game here it will be well worth it!
10 July 2006 Respond to above review

10 Latest course reviews
1 Camberley Heath
''Delightful traditional heathland course; lovely variety of holes with changes in elevation and alth...''
2 Dumfries & County
''I warmed up for my round at D&C with a game at nearby Dumfries & Galloway, which has a decent front...''
3 Fota Island (Deerpark)
''It almost seems criminal to go the Ireland and then play parkland courses but Fota Island is one of...''
4 Postołowo - Gdansk
''When I played Postolowo, the only other people there were around 20 locals having a mammoth putting...''
5 Son Antem (East)
''Having had a late night in Palma the three of us we were in no hurry to get onto the East Course at...''
6 Lee Valley
''There are some big name golf courses in the Cork area but if you’re there try to find time to play ...''
7 Hills
''I played a couple of games here in 2012 ( Volvo amatuer masters )and found it a challenging but fai...''
8 Close House (Colt)
''We have a regular golf society that over the years have played many golf course including the famou...''
9 Oubaai
''Oubaai is a pleasant golfing experience but many of the holes are mundane, it is still worth playin...''
10 Son Antem (West)
''This is a confusing place. Staying at the huge Son Antem hotel it is hard to credit that a resort h...''

Home  |  Score card  |  About Us  |  Contact Us  |  News  |  Resorts  |  Links  |  Gems  |  Golf Breaks  |  Site Map|  Terms & Conditions|  Privacy Policy/Cookies