Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 14
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 14
A bunker bearing the handiwork of Dr. Alister MacKenzie guards the 14th green at Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, California. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 2
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 2
Drives that miss the second fairway to the right must contend with this tree at Sharp Park Golf Course near San Francisco. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 5
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 5
Deer feed on the par-3 fifth hole at Sharp Park. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - 5th hole
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Sharp Park Golf Course - 5th hole
The uphill fifth hole of Sharp Park Golf Course sits in a secluded corner of a forest. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 6
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 6
The sixth hole at Sharp Park Golf Course tumbles off an elevated tee and bends left to the green. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 7
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 7
The seventh hole at Sharp Park Golf Course is another stout par 4. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 8
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 8
Trees crowd the 99-yard wedge shot to the eighth green at Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, California. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 9
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 9
The ninth hole is one of the short par 5s at Sharp Park Golf Course, playing just 471 yards from the tips. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 10
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 10
The 10th green at Sharp Park Golf Course sits by the first tee and the clubhouse. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 12
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 12
The cliffs at Sharp Park Golf Course along the Pacific Ocean are visible from the 12th green. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 14
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 14
Pylons guide golfers around the Laguna Salada on the 14th hole at Sharp Park. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 15
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 15
Wetland and a massive front bunker protect the par-3 15th green at Sharp Park Golf Course near San Francisco. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 16
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 16
A seawall blocks the views of the Pacific Ocean from the 16th hole at the Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, California. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass
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Sharp Park Golf Course: A historic walk near San Francisco, California

PACIFICA, Calif. -- Sharp Park Golf Course near San Francisco might be the most beloved three-star course in America. Supporters of the historic seaside municipal course -- designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie -- continue to fight for its future.

The 6,382-yard course along the Pacific Ocean has been embroiled in a decade-long dispute involving environmentalists, who want the course closed to protect the threatened California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes that live and breed in the wetlands and reeds of Laguna Salada, a natural lake along the course's back nine. While the legal battle plays on in the courts, golfers simply play through, enjoying a pleasant walk on a playable collection of doglegs and short par 5s.

If you can overlook the bare spots, the bumpy greens and five-hour rounds, the Sharp Park experience is a pleasant one. Modern design trends involving length and excessive fairway bunkering and shaping don't apply at Sharp Park, run by the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department.

"They don't build them like this anymore," Manager Mark Duane said. "It's such a great layout."

Much of Sharp Park's original routing, dating to 1931, remains intact. The four-hole stretch across the street is spectacular, climbing to an elevated green on the par-3 fifth hole and an elevated tee at no. 6, a strong par 4. Branches hanging over the eighth green defend what should be an easy 99-yard wedge shot. A seawall blocks the views of the ocean at no. 12 and no. 16, the two holes directly on the shore. Flooding plagues the 14th hole, an unfortunate problem that could be addressed if proposed changes ever come to fruition.

Sharp Park Golf Course's potential is aching to be unlocked.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

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Sharp Park Golf Course: A historic walk near San Francisco, California