Oakland golf features unique courses at an affordable price

Source: jdnx from Flickr.com

A view of Oakland and the San Francisco Bay

In Scotland, the home of the game, public golf has been an important mainstay of community recreation.  As an outdoor, (typically) walking activity, its people recognize the importance of making golf affordable. In the United States, however, this has not always been the case. Prior to the economic downturn, greens fees at municipal, daily-fee, and resort courses began to skyrocket.  Thankfully, Oakland (and its neighboring cities) have preserved some of the greatseem to get public golf right – it has interesting and enjoyable courses, open to all, at prices everyone can afford.

One unique aspect to the area’s golf scene is that Oakland is graced with a diverse topography which includes a stretch of the bay’s shoreline as well as the Oakland hills.  Golfers can choose amongst “hilly” courses with high elevation changes and blind shots, or “seaside” courses near the water that have a distinctive links-like feel, especially for urban golf.

Most courses in the Oakland area won’t break the bank, which is especially important for golf beginners. Reasonably priced, accessible, and playable courses are key to attract new participants. Whether you want a casual practice round with your buddies, or are taking the kids to learn the game, here are some of the area’s great deals:

Lake Chabot Golf Course (11450 Golf Links Rd., Oakland 94605)

Weekdays: $16-33; Weekends: $21-40; 9-hole course: $5 juniors, $10 adults.

Lake Chabot is a hilly, quirky course with lots of elevation.  Uphill, downhill, and sidehill lies are common.  The finishing hole is a memorable 675-yard Par 6.  Great exercise if you’re walking.  Those with mobility issues should take a cart.

Montclair Golf Shop (2477 Monterey Blvd., Oakland 94611)

9-hole course: $7-9; Driving range: $7 (small), $8.50 (medium), $10 (large)

Tucked away in the hills in Oakland’s Monctlair neighborhood, this is a friendly pitch-and-putt course along with a double-decker driving range.  It’s an accessible and affordable place to work on your game when you can’t get in a full round.

Metropolitan Golf Links (10051 Doolittle Dr., Oakland 94603)

Weekdays: $21-40; Weekends: $25-62; 9-holes: $21-25; Driving range: $4 (small), $8 (medium), $10 (large); Short-game practice area: $6-10

Home of the Cal Men’s Golf Team, this layout by the Oakland airport is a great test of golf.  With a links-feel course marked by tall fescue grass, few trees, and a healthy dose of wind off the bay, this Greg Norman design is challenging but fair for most skills levels.

Tilden Park Golf Course (10 Golf Course Dr., Berkeley 94705)

Weekdays: $28-45; Weekends: $28-65; Driving range: $7 (small), $8.50 (medium), $10 (large)

Neighboring Oakland to the north, Berkeley has its own gem hidden in the hills.  Tilden Park is a lush and well-maintained public track with many steeps shots off the tee and approach shots to an uphill pin.  While a shorter course, it bites back with its long par 3s.

Monarch Bay Golf Club (13800 Monarch Dr., San Leandro 94577)

Weekdays: $28-45; Weekends: $28-65; Driving range: $7 (small), $8.50 (medium), $10 (large)

Neighboring Oakland to the south, San Leandro offers its own “seaside” course with great views and plenty of wind.  With a sea links feel, though not nearly as punishing, the course offers spectacular views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline on clear days.  Very walkable venue.

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