Hidden Mill Valley Golf Course

Given San Francisco’s limited 7x7-mile footprint and 50+ hills, the real estate for golfing is pretty darn exclusive. Private courses, like the Olympic Club (host to the 2012 US Open) and the gilded San Francisco Golf Club, tend to get the most attention, but there are a slew of lesser-known courses throughout the Bay Area. The City’s Presedio Golf Course and the Golden Gate Park Golf Course are great—and historic—municipal courses, but my personal favorite is hidden in Mill Valley. So named for the logging and milling that took place here, Mill Valley remains densely forested, and tucked into the coastal redwoods above town you’ll find the Mill Valley Golf Course. This 9-hole, par-65 municipal course is not the best-maintained, but I’ve never had to a wait to get on the course. (Full disclosure: My family and I live off the 7th hole!) And it may not have the views of the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Monterey, but this local links is beautiful and not for duffers. The 4-par fourth hole, an uphill dogleg, is said to be one of the hardest municipal holes in the state. The fairways are hilly throughout, and the tees challenge with ravines to cross and narrow tree alleys to thread. On the southern slopes of Mount Tamalpais, the course is bathed in sunshine and escapes Mill Valley’s fog-soaked shadows. Certain kids may or may not play midnight golf there with glow-in-the dark balls, and friendly locals are known to combine parties to speed things up. It’s hidden gems like this that make San Francisco a sportsman’s paradise.

Zoe Winter