CAG Board Member Richard Harris is co-founder, with his fellow-San Francisco attorney Robert D. “Bo” Links, of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance. Since 2007 that non-profit organization has made exceptional contributions to the game of golf by its all-volunteer grassroots advocacy on behalf of the City’s municipal golf courses, including scenic Lincoln Park and the Alister MacKenzie-designed Sharp Park, the charming seaside links located in the San Francisco suburb of Pacifica.
Links and Harris have deep roots in California golf. Harris is a member at Gleneagles GC, Sharp Park GC, and Stanford GC. He was a caddy at Stanford in the 1950’s, and later captained the Stanford Varsity Golf Team in 1968. After graduation, Harris served in the U.S. Army, 82nd Airborne Division and 25th Infantry Division, South Vietnam (1969-1971). He graduated from Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley in 1977 and has practiced law in San Francisco ever since. He was instrumental in the “Save Stanford Golf Course” campaign in 2000, and founded the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance with Links in 2007.
According to Harris, the Alliance is dedicated to educating and galvanizing public support for the benefits of municipal golf. “The fight to preserve Sharp Park and our other historic courses is an ongoing effort,” he says. “Golfers and the golf industry must continue to be vigorously engaged within the public arena, to help preserve golf’s role as a safe and valued place where the broad public can meet, recreate, and enjoy nature together.”
Bo Links is a San Francisco native and graduate of its Washington High, where he played on the golf team at nearby Lincoln Park. He then graduated from UC Berkeley and UCLA Law School. After taking his first case out of law school to a victory in the United States Supreme Court, Links has practiced law in San Francisco since 1974. Links is also an avid golfer and a dedicated golf historian. He has written three golf books, Follow the Wind and Riverbank Tweed & Roadmap, Jenkins: Tales from the Caddie Yard, and Golf Poems: The Greatest Game in Rhythm and Rhyme. Over the years he has served on the USGA Section Committee and also volunteered as a historian for the S.F. City’s golf courses. He was active in the major project to renovate and restore Harding Park GC. Links has been honored by the Alister MacKenzie Society which has twice awarded him first prize in the international Lido Design Contest.
Links’ greatest golf endeavor is his leadership role in co-founding the SFPGA, and always with immense talent, energy and focus on saving Sharp Park. Links and Harris continue to help secure funding for the environmentally sensitive restoration of the cherished MacKenzie-designed course. Both gentlemen continue to keep others informed about the issues surrounding SPGC, evidenced by their presentations to allied golf associations.
Due to the pandemic in 2020, the annual Alister MacKenzie Fundraising Tournament had to be cancelled which was unfortunate as the tournament has always been quite popular and served as the primary event to raise much needed funds to help protect and restore SPGC. In its place, last year the Friends of Sharp Park created a new, virtual year-end fundraiser which was also highly successful.
The national golf media – including Golf Digest, Golfweek, and Golf Advisor – have on several occasions, recognized Sharp Park as one of America’s outstanding municipal courses, and at the top of national “most worthy of restoration” lists. While Covid-19 has put immense stress on government funding, the good news is, golf in 2020-2021 has experienced a significant uptick in rounds due to the sport’s naturally built-in social distancing factor, positioning it as a healthy recreational activity. Since Sharp Park re-opened for play in May 2020, its rounds (May through December) surpassed play at all other SF municipal courses.
In recent years, several projects have emerged at Sharp Park, including tree work to reopen historic seaside vistas, a hole naming and signage project, and the beginning of a campaign to restore the greens to their original Opening Day size (they are huge!), shape, and contours, consistent with a 1931 construction map which Links and Harris found in the basement of the SF Rec & Park Department.
Sharp Park supporters designed a historic photographic display for the Clubhouse entryway walls which will be installed once the Clubhouse reopens. According to Harris, a leading hydrology consultant has been retained to help develop a drainage plan and the folks at Hart-Howerton kindly donated their design services on the recently-opened Sharp Park sea wall Coastal Trail improvement and beach access project.
Much remains to be done for municipal golf and Sharp Park in 2021, and you can count on Harris, Links, and the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance to be involved and get it done!
To learn more about the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, visit: https://www.sfpublicgolf.org/.