PGA Tour driving toward Harding Park management

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Management of San Francisco’s star municipal golf course could be handed over to the PGA Tour, a move that could add the prestigious TPC moniker to the name of the course and its clubhouse and perhaps help the course earn more money.

The Recreation and Park Commission on Thursday gave a preliminary thumbs-up to a proposal by the PGA Tour to take over management of the Harding Park Golf Course clubhouse and golf operations when the current manager’s contract ends in August. The PGA Tour, a nonprofit organization that operates professional golf tournaments, has brought two large events to Harding Park in recent years: the American Express Championship in 2005 and the Presidents Cup last year. It’s also under contract with The City to host four more tournaments at Harding Park in the next decade, including the Champions Tour’s Charles Schwab Cup Championship the next two falls.

Under the proposed management agreement — the details of which are still being negotiated and must still be approved by the Board of Supervisors — the PGA Tour would operate the clubhouse and the operations of the course. However, The City would still pay for all operations and maintenance and would still collect 100 percent of the revenue from rounds.

Among the benefits of the deal for the Recreation and Park Department would be that the PGA Tour would likely lend its brand name TPC, or Tournament Players Club, to the course and its clubhouse, Rec and Park spokesman Elton Pon said.

That moniker is used at courses the PGA Tour manages across the country, including locally at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward.

The City pays its current operator, KemperSports, a $192,000 management fee, but the PGA Tour has offered to waive any management fee. The City’s current deal also hands over 5 percent of any profits exceeding $6 million a year at the course to the current manager, but the PGA Tour has promised to invest that money into the course and the nonprofit First Tee program for children.

In total, The City estimates a savings of $250,000, perhaps more if the TPC brand name brings in more golfers. According to Rec and Park Property Manager Tom Hart, that money could go back into The City’s golf fund and could help improve its other courses.

TPC Stonebrae General Manager Jody Brothers said the PGA Tour decided to propose the deal because it will help the organization expand its West Coast presence and will help it ensure the course is maintained and operated to the standards it requires for tournaments.

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