The PGA of America, the PGA TOUR and the City and County of San Francisco announced a partnership back in July 2014 that will result in the 2020 PGA Championship and The Presidents Cup 2025 coming to TPC Harding Park, a municipal course owned by the City and County of San Francisco.
The PGA Championship in 2020 will mark the first major championship to be held at a TPC property and the first PGA Championship to be staged in San Francisco. In 2020, the PGA Championship – perennially featuring golf’s strongest and deepest international lineup of any major championship – will make its fifth appearance in California, following Hillcrest Country Club (1929), Pebble Beach Golf Links (1977) and Riviera Country Club (1983, ’95). TPC Harding Park will be the second municipally owned golf course to host the PGA Championship. The only other PGA Championship to be conducted at a municipal golf facility was the 1974 Championship at Tanglewood Golf Club in Clemmons, North Carolina.
Situated on a gently rolling peninsula surrounded by the shores of Lake Merced in San Francisco’s southwest corner, TPC Harding Park has reclaimed its stature as one of the top public golf properties in the United States. Formerly Harding Park Golf Club, the course opened for play in 1925 after a design by noted architects Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, who also oversaw the construction of the Olympic Club. Officials named the course after President Warren G. Harding; the 29th President of the United States was an avid golfer who died at the Palace Hotel in 1923 during a visit to San Francisco.
The course became immediately popular and gained national notoriety when the United States Golf Association selected the par-70 course to host the U.S. Public Links Championship in 1937, which again was played at Harding Park in 1956. After that time, the course endured a slow deterioration and fell into what the San Francisco Chronicle described: “Weeds, clusters of daisies and splotches of dirt came to characterize this once-pristine layout.”
Enter Frank “Sandy” Tatum, who had played in the San Francisco City Championship while attending Stanford University and stayed in the Bay Area, spending his career there as an attorney. Tatum had gained stature in the golf industry, serving as president of the USGA. Tatum became instrumental in turning Harding Park’s fortunes around, receiving assistance from local government leaders. As part of the renovation process, Tatum eventually turned to the PGA TOUR and the International Federation of PGA Tours,and the International Federation named Harding Park the site of the 2005 World Golf Championships-American Express Championship (now known as the Cadillac Championship).
TPC Harding Park is also the site of The First Tee of San Francisco, which now reaches more than 80,000 young people annually through chapter programs and elementary schools. The course was added to the PGA TOUR’s prestigious TPC Network of clubs in November 2010. Due to its partnership between the PGA TOUR and the City of San Francisco, TPC Harding Park is operating under no management fees; thus, allowing both the city and the TOUR to give back to local communities through charitable donations.