In 1930 Golden Gate Park Superintendent John McLaren commissioned British golf course designer Alister MacKenzie to create San Francisco’s third municipal golf links on 120 acres at Sharp Park. Located on the Pacific Coast ten miles south of downtown, the land was bequeathed to the city by Honora Sharp in 1917. The site comprised broad agricultural fields plowed from desolate dunes around Laguna Salada, a brackish lagoon edged with reeds, cattails and tulles. MacKenzie designed Sharp Park between his two most famous creations: the Cypress Point Club on the Monterey Peninsula, and Augusta National in Georgia. At Sharp Park, MacKenzie’s design featured picturesque routes among Monterey cypress planted by McLaren, framing dramatic views of Pacific headlands and the surrounding mountains.
Through 1931 construction supervisors Robert Hunter, Chandler Egan, and Jack Fleming transformed the existing artichoke fields using modern engineering methods and machinery. They deepened Laguna Salada, converting it into a fresh-water lake. Water hazards (including Sanchez Creek, which bisects the course) abound throughout the course’s 6,299 yards, and fairways and tees were sited on islands and spits. MacKenzie employed tropes utilized in previous designs, including multiple tees, double fairways, and cross bunkering. Of MacKenzie’s original eighteen holes, twelve remain today plus a portion of two others. The course, opened in 1932, still exudes the spirit of MacKenzie’s design, with undulating fairways, mounded greens, and signature use of optical illusions. The Spanish Revival-style clubhouse, designed by an associate of architect Willis Polk and completed in 1931, features murals executed by the Works Progress Administration.