S.F. on drive to host PGA events 

Golf fans, get ready — six major professional golf events are expected to hit the San Francisco links in the coming years.

Starting in 2009, San Francisco is in line to see the nation’s premier golfers swinging clubs at the city-run Harding Park Golf Course along Lake Merced, according to a proposed agreement between The City and the Professional Golfers’ Association.

"The southwest corner of San Francisco will be home to a major golf tournament every year form 2009 to at least 2014, assuming the Board of Supervisors approves this agreement," said Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, whose district includes the Harding Park course.

The Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee could vote on the agreement as early as next Wednesday, according to Elsbernd, who helped negotiate it.

The agreement moves through the bureaucratic process as the Recreation and Park Department has been criticized for its poor management of The City’s six public golf courses.

Not only are the courses in poor condition, they lose money and will continue to put a drain on city coffers if current practices remainin place, according to a recent report by the Florida-based NGF consulting firm.

"For me, this is more than just revenue for The City’s golf courses. This is revenue for The City. This is free commercials for San Francisco in well over 100 countries, certainly all over the United States," Elsbernd said.

He added, "The goodwill, the excitement of being a San Franciscan out along the fairways — you can’t put a dollar figure on that."

Under the plan, The City’s Harding Park Golf Course will begin hosting PGA-related events in 2009 with the Presidents Cup, followed by four other major events in subsequent years.

In an unrelated deal, the Olympic Club is expected to host the United States Golf Association’s U.S. Open on its private course in 2012.

The negotiated agreement with the PGA would amend the original contract between The City and the PGA that was negotiated during the $23 million renovation of the Harding Park course, which had long been neglected.

The PGA held its first event at the renovated Harding Park in October 2005. It was widely considered a success and provided golf fans with much-hoped-for excitement as Tiger Woods bested John Daly in a dramatic finish.

The proposed agreement between The City and the PGA is "superior" to the existing contract, according to Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Dennis.

The PGA would pay The City $500,000 per event, and also contribute $500,000 toward the nonprofit program known as the First Tee Program, which provides underprivileged San Francisco youth with a chance to play golf. The City would also receive 6.6 percent of an event’s gross revenue that exceeds $10 million.

Pro Golf in the city

Upcoming Professional Golfers’ Association-related events at Harding Park Golf Course, per a proposed agreement with The City:

2009 Presidents Cup: U.S. vs. International (non-Ryder Cup players), 12 golfers per team

2010 Charles Schwab Cup: The season finale of the Champions Tour

2011 Charles Schwab Cup: The season finale of the Champions Tour

2013 BMW Championship: Considered the semifinals of PGA’s FedEx Cup playoffs

2014-2017: One event of same caliber as the Presidents Cup or BMW Championship

-Source: San Francisco Recreation and Park Department

jsabatini@examiner.com

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