Harding Park is no stranger to big golf tournaments.
It recently played host to the 103rd San Francisco City Championship — aka “The City” — two weekends ago, and its resume includes hosting the 2005 World Golf Championship, the Presidents Cup in 2009 and the Match Play Championship in 2015.
In 2020, Harding Park can add the 102nd PGA Championship to its resume.
It’s the first time that the PGA has had its championship in Northern California since 1977 (Pebble Beach) and the first PGA Championship on the West coast since 1998 at Sahalee Country Club, just outside of Seattle.
“It’s many years of a dream come true,” PGA Chief Championships Officer Kerry Haigh said to The Examiner at the 2020 PGA Championship Unveiling Gala Wednesday night at City Hall.
“For many years we have wanted to come and bring our championship to this dynamic city and with the U.S. Open being at [the Olympic Club] for a fairly regular basis we really didn’t have the opportunity to kind of work it out.
“But, happily for all of us, we’re now at Harding Park.”
Mayor London Breed was at the gala early in the evening and addressed those in attendance, showing her support for the PGA coming to San Francisco and credited the late Mayor Ed Lee for getting it to San Francisco when he originally announced it was coming back in 2014.
“We lost a true champion when we lost Mayor Ed Lee, who really fought to bring this PGA Championship to San Francisco,” Breed said in her address. “I know that he thought he was going to be the next Jack Nicklaus because he loved to play golf.”
Harding Park has come a long way throughout the last 20 years. After much neglect in the 1980s and 1990’s, Frank “Sandy” Tatum, a former president of the United States Golf Association and longtime San Francisco lawyer, led its renovation project in the mid 2000s. It’s lowlight, outside of the neglect it suffered at the end the 20th century, was when it doubled as the parking lot during the 1998 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club.
Haigh walked the park during the week, preparing over a year in advance to make the course PGA ready in time for the Championship in mid-May 2020.
The PGA Championship’s arrival to Harding Park sees a continued trend of playing the championship on public courses. This year’s 101st PGA Championship will be played at Bethpage Black in Long Island, New York before coming west next year, sending an open invite of sorts in a sport that is often perceived as secluded and elitist.
“It’s certainly something that we’re conscious of,” Haigh said. “We have 29,000 members … and the vast majority of them work on public golfing facilities. I think it sends the right message to the world of golf that it’s open and inclusive and we’ve very happy and delighted to do that here.”
Harding Park will also host the Presidents Cup in 2025, with the Olympic club hosting the 2028 PGA Championship and the 2032 Ryder Cup.
“It’s something we’ve wanted to do, we wanted to play more championships on the west coast and there’s no better place that San Francisco to do that,” Haigh added.