PGA Tour puts stock in SF’s Harding Park

Four PGA Tour events planned for Harding Park Golf Course during the next 10 years could be a boon for San Francisco’s tourism industry.

The City pocketed an estimated $80 million for the weeklong Presidents Cup in October. It was the first time the international golf tournament — which pits Americans against non-Europeans — was played in San Francisco.

The $80 million comes from hotel revenue and other sources.

“We don’t get the hotel tax. We don’t get the sales tax,” Recreation and Park Commission President Jim Lazarus said. “But it’s a good investment for The City.”

More than 135,000 people flocked to Harding Park for the event, which was won by the Tiger Woods-led U.S. team. The event reached 550 million homes in 235 countries through 28 hours of television coverage, according to the Recreation and Park Department.

The department — which owns and operates the course — will receive its share of Presidents Cup income as it trickles through The City’s general fund.

“People from all over the world will want to play at Harding,” department General Manager Phil Ginsburg said. “I think that the money we spent is a really good investment.”

The PGA Tour has scheduled four more events at Harding Park before 2020, and it’s picking up the tab for an agronomist to work on the course’s grass and plants in the next two years. It paid $1 million for the course’s closure and accommodations. It donated $500,000 to the First Tee program, which helps underprivileged children get involved in golf. All PGA Tour proceeds from the event are donated to participants’ charities.

In October, rounds of golf played at Harding Park increased 14 percent, exceeding its expected revenue by $52,400, according to the Recreation and Park Department.

“San Francisco is one of the original three places [that] were home for golf in the United States, and San Francisco is a worldwide city,” said Richard Harris, co-founder of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance. “Those two aspects of San Francisco’s personality combined to make it a natural [fit].”

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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