When eager students haul their clubs onto the grounds at San Bruno Golf Center, they may find themselves pulled in more than one direction. Their first inclination may be toward the grass practice area; at 20,000 square feet it almost has its own gravitational pull. Or they might be drawn to the center’s 65 mat hitting stations. These are spread across an open-air upper deck and covered lower deck that protects players from the rain or any tears that fall from the upper deck. The short game area, meanwhile, spreads across two acres and features two chipping greens, a putting green, three bunkers, and a 75-yard tee box shot. When golfers have worn themselves out with divot digging and perfecting the arc of a gentle draw, they can recline on the clubhouse’s redwood deck and look out over their fellow clubbers.
Mark Emmons calls upon a lifelong passion for the game and more than 15 years of experience as a golf instructor during group and semiprivate lessons at San Bruno Golf Center. Over the course of his career, Mark has proffered insight to students at all levels of play. Students can opt for semi-private instruction with Mark for more focused development of technique, consistency, and ability to fly a golf cart. Semiprivate lessons also often employ the use of video analysis, breaking down swings frame-by-frame and providing instant feedback.
While idly discussing the prospect of creating a miniature-golf course festooned with elaborate art installations, Michael Taft realized that he couldn?t think of a single putt-putt course in the Bay Area. Fast-forwarding to his retirement plan of owning a small business, Taft snapped up an abandoned video store and enlisted artistic friends and local craftspeople to make his dream a reality. Subpar Miniature Golf?s map of handcrafted holes has players putting their way through Bay Area landmarks, including an Altamont Pass windmill and the Golden Gate Bridge, tricked out with loop-the-loops. A sprawling, hand-drawn mural wraps its way around the room, depicting scenes of NoCal life and tricking gullible coyotes into trying to sprint through the walls.
Subpar Miniature Golf?s ever-growing arcade area keeps button-smashers busy with vintage pinball machines and a pair of air-hockey tables, contributing to Taft's dream of turning the space into a family institution and community fixture. As he told the San Francisco Chronicle, "Every once in a while, you'll hear a giant cheer in the back by a group that sunk a (great) putt. It makes me feel really good, like 'We did that. That's us.'"
Measuring in at an imposing 673 yards, the 18th hole at Lake Chabot Golf Course seems, at first glance, like an act of course-design cruelty. There's a catch, though: it's a par 6. The extra stroke, combined with the hole's all-downhill orientation, turns the titanic track into a surprising birdie opportunity.
This final hole caps a breathtaking four-hole finishing sequence that rides the high ground, offering gorgeous vistas without sacrificing course play. At 259 yards, the 15th hole dazzles with tee-box views of San Francisco, Oakland, and the Bay Bridge, but its greatest gift to golfers is a high-risk chance to drive the green (pro tip: keep your driver in the bag; there's less room than you think).
Alongside the championship course, Lake Chabot unfurls a 9-hole, par-3 layout for golfers seeking a shorter round. Shaded by towering trees, the course arcs over the same elevation changes that shape its 18-hole counterpart. Before rounds at either layout, it's not a bad idea to warm up at the driving range and putting green. The Spanish-style clubhouse is also home to the Chabot Cafe, where guests can replenish and enjoy sandwiches artfully skewered with golf tees.
Championship Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par-72 course * Length of 6,006 yards from the tips * Course rating of 69.5 from the tips * Slope rating of 124 from the tips * Three tee options available
Golf legends Johnny Miller and Fred Bliss teamed up to design the course at Metropolitan Golf Links, and were rewarded with numerous accolades, such as the 2010 ELGA Chapter Award for Public Facilities from the GCSA of Northern California and Golf Digest. To achieve their links-style vision, the golf gurus incorporated the natural contours of the land and covered the terrain with omnipresent sand traps and modern turf hybrids. The result whisks golfers around a labyrinthine layout complete with straightaways, doglegs, and double doglegs, each made more difficult by heavy breezes that blow in from San Francisco Bay, which can disrupt shots and ground scorecard paper airplanes.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,959 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 73.8 from the back tees * Course slope of 131 from the back tees * Five sets of tees per hole * Scorecard:m]]
_Though Metropolitan Golf Links sometimes features a discounted price online, this Groupon still offers the best deal available._
Emerald Hills Golf Course strings together nine par 3 holes that test short-game proficiency as players use shorter irons to propel their golf balls through course's frequent elevation changes. The sixth hole presents opportunities for holes-in-one with a downhill tee shot of just 120 yards into a bowl-shaped green, easily replicated from a backyard deck into an inflatable swimming pool.
Golfers hoping to shave strokes off their scores can work under the tutelage of the course's certified teaching professional, Chris Raddie. Players can then practice Chris's corrective advice after a lesson or before a round on the two practice greens or midsize practice cage, which can double as a penalty box for prevaricating scorekeepers.
Course at a Glance: * 9-hole, par 27 course * Total length of 1,156 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 54.2 from the back tees * Course slope of 88 from the back tees * Two sets of tees per hole