Every golf vacation starts with choosing a golf destination and the appropriate golf courses to play.  Usually, once these are determined, the next step is to choose a place to stay.  However, there are times that the destination isn’t necessarily all about golf.  There are places we visit for reasons other than golf – business, site seeing, visiting family – golf may only be a secondary part of the trip.  In these instances, finding the right place to stay can make all the difference for a successful visit.

San Francisco is a perfect example; there are a million things to do including visiting China Town, catch a Giants game or following your team to see them play the 49ers. You get the idea. 

Location, location, location – it’s the most important three words in real estate and certainly applies to hotels as well.  When you include amenities, history and service, it can define a perfect stay.  The InterContinental managed Mark Hopkins Hotel has all that and more.  Located on the crest of Nob Hill, which is the very heart of the most visited area of San Francisco with easy access to the famous cable cars passing directly in front of the hotel. These historic trolly cars take visitors to popular areas such as Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, and Union Square.  China town and the financial district are each within walking distance as well. The hotel staff also recommends taking a trip to Sausalito by ferry or car. The area is world renowned for its Mediterranean flair. Many guests also take the Anchor Steam Brewery tour which is located in the up and coming Potrero Hill neighborhood and just a 10 minute cab ride from the hotel. It's really a fun and inexpensive tour.

Room View from Mark Hopkins HotelView from Top of the MarkNight Room View from Mark Hopkins Hotel

Top of the MarkCable Cars in Front of Mark Hopkins

The Mark Hopkins has long been one of San Francisco’s finest hotels with a long list of dignitary guests choosing to make it their hostel of choice.  The elegantly petite brick entry drive is truly mesmerizing with views and historic buildings at every direction and is skillfully managed by the staff to welcome guests immediately upon arrival.  Once inside, the lobby is home to two spectacular chandeliers that light the ornately comfortable sitting area with the front desk and concierge nearby.  For those that wish for an even more exclusive arrival, you can prearrange to be upgraded to the Club Intercontinental status which provides numerous benefits that are well worth the nominal fee.  Benefits include complimentary food and beverage presentations throughout the day, from breakfast to bedtime sweets and spirits as well as a more intimate check-in area and late check-out availability.  Additionally, the club includes free usage of computers with internet access, which is perfect for quickly checking email without the hassle of toting your laptop across the country.

Of course, no stay in San Francisco would be complete without a visit to the Top of The Mark which is the famous lounge on the 18th floor with 360 degree views of the entire city.  The lounge has been named as one of 26 “World’s Best Hotel Bars” by Forbes.com.  Although any time would be memorable, it’s best to arrive at least an hour before sunset and take in the views during daylight and watch all the colors of the city slowly change into night.  It is truly spectacular.

When The Mark Hopkins Hotel opened on December 4, 1926, San Franciscans proclaimed it "architecturally perfect, flawless in its erection, comprehensive in its accommodations...strikingly representative of the best there is in modern hostelry".  Today, more than 80 years later, they still say the same thing.

After getting your San Francisco accommodations in order, it’s time to focus on golf.  Although the area’s most famous course, the Olympic Club, is very private and you would need some good friends in high places to get to tee it up at this top 100 course that will host the 2012 U.S. Open, there are some other fine choices.  The Mark Hopkins staff often recommend Harding Park and Lincoln Park to their guests.  Additionally, Golden Gate Park has a lovely par 3 nine hole executive course that is both enjoyable as well as challenging and very reasonably priced.   Harding Park Golf Course, one of the country’s best municipal courses, hosted the 2009 Presidents Cup that the U.S. won lead by team captain, Fred Couples.  It is a 25 -35 minute drive from the Mark Hopkins depending on traffic.

Another good choice, located across the Golden Gate Bridge just outside the city and about a 40 minute drive from the Mark Hopkins, is the StoneTree Golf Club.  The 6,782 yard course features a nice variety of holes that keep you interested for the entire round.   Additionally, holes 13 – 17 offer some nice changes in elevation that really increase your adrenalin adding to the challenge of these holes that are also surrounded by mature trees and have a much different feel than the rest of the course.

 The clubhouse is equally impressive with a Mediterranean style complete with lushly rustic stone work creating a look that is much older than its relatively young age.  The bar/lounge located on the second floor offers a great place to settle bets and view much of the course as well as the surrounding scenery which provides an excellent back drop to this noteworthy golf course.

Regardless of your choice of links and hotel, San Francisco offers a great area to visit and enjoy with an abundance of activities to keep you entertained.

Written by golf and travel publisher, Dale Samar.  info@golfcoursewebpages.com

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