I love golf. The brightly colored balls, the sweet smell of cotton candy wafting through the air, the satisfaction of dropping a putt into the mouth of a giant clown. Of course that’s miniature golf; the full-size version is another story.
I played that only once, and since I did so as a lefty borrowing right-handed clubs, saved some time by rounding up my scorecard to infinity. But I understand that a lot of people using the correct-handed clubs find it quite enjoyable, and would never wish to impose upon their recreational choices – unless those choices happen to threaten an endangered species or two.
For instance, if they enjoyed clubbing baby seals with nine irons, or using golf balls made from panda testicles, I would strongly encourage they take up a new hobby. In the case of Sharp Park Golf Course, it was built on the habitat of the red-legged frog and the San Francisco garter snake, back when nature was still considered to be an eyesore and in need of mowing. This forced the critters to move to the nearest remaining habitat: Pescadero marsh. Unfortunately, animals are poor map-readers, and most got lost en route, causing the stragglers to be protected by the federal government.
It all began when famous golf architect Alister MacKenzie, inspired by the success of the Ocean Shore Railroad, decided to emulate its winning formula by building a golf course on a coastal sand dune. After several delays, the course finally opened on April Fool’s Day in 1932, ushering in the park’s “golden era,” which lasted six whole years, until a storm washed away seven holes, ushering in the park’s “underwater era,” which lasts to this day.
In an attempt to salvage what was left, a berm was illegally built in the 1980s to keep the water back. Unfortunately, it kept the water back in the wrong direction, causing the course to flood all the way to the clubhouse. Because the protected frogs laid eggs in the ensuing lake, the course was forced to leave it, and instead supplied golfers with specially designed floating clubs, putting snorkels, and amphibious golf carts. As a result, the course has had to be subsidized by taxpayer money every year, but that’s okay because it’s San Francisco taxpayers. Suckers.
Now an organization called the “Center for Biological Diversity,” representing a narrow special-interest group known as “life on Earth,” hopes to turn the troubled course into an endangered-species habitat. San Francisco Supervisor Russ Mirkarimi has introduced legislation to consider the idea*. This has led to a contentious debate, which so far the golfers have been winning handily, since the snakes and frogs have proven incapable of even the most rudimentary language. Therefore I will humbly attempt to speak on their behalf, assuming they are history buffs capable of reading a financial spreadsheet.
Golfers: The golf course was created by Alister MacKenzie, a famous architect, in the 30s.
Snakes and Frogs: Oh yeah? We were created by God, an omniscient being, in the Permian era.
Golfers: Restoring Sharp Park would lead to more mosquitoes and West Nile Virus.
Frogs: Our extinction would allow mosquitoes to run rampant over the earth, leaving death and destruction in their evil wake. Although they are quite delicious.
Golfers: Sharp Park is on track to make a profit this year.
Snakes and Frogs: Only if you ignore the huge subsidy it receives from the San Francisco general fund, and a $250,000 repair of the berm. With that kind of math, even GM could look profitable.
Golfers: If it weren’t for the berm, there would be no habitat for the endangered species.
Snakes and Frogs: We’ve been here for millions of years. The berm wasn’t even invented until the Neolithic Revolution, about 10,000 years ago. We can manage without it.
Golfers: We can reconstruct MacKenzie’s historic original design.
Snakes and frogs: The one that was partially below sea level and lost seven holes to the sea after six years? And that was before global warming kicked in. You might as well reconstruct Atlantis.
Golfers: We like animals, and would never want to hurt them.
Snakes and Frogs: It’s not that you’re malicious, it’s that you’re golfing on what used to be our habitat. Have you ever tried to breed on a golf course? It can be a real buzz kill when the sprinklers come on.
Golfers: Some of us have been golfing there for 20 years and we’ve never seen a San Francisco garter snake.
Snakes: Our numbers are in the tens. We rarely even see ourselves anymore.
As you can see, the little critters do have a point. But don’t despair. It is possible that the area can be restored as habitat, while still keeping a smaller nine-hole golf course. Or better yet, miniature golf.
Ian Butler is host of Laugh Locally on PCT26. You can reach him at email@example.com. Learn more at RESTORE SHARP PARK
*Mikarimi's other legislation is for San Francisco to run pot dispensaries, so it’s possible that he plans to grow weed at Sharp Park.