Sharp Park golfers win in court

A years-long legal battle broke toward the pin for Sharp Park golfers Thursday when a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by environmental groups that had threatened to close the 80-year-old Pacifica golf course.

The dismissal by U.S. District Judge Susan Ilston caps four years of legal wrangling over habitat for protected San Francisco garter snakes and California red-legged frogs.

Sharp Park’s signature sogginess is just one sign of its fragile perch along the seaside ecosystem. Environmentalists had contended that the pumping of water on and off the course damages egg pods and habitats of protected species.

In her dismissal, Ilston cited an October report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which found golf at Sharp Park would most likely not pose threats to the existence of frogs and snakes on and around the golf course.

The report said it expected just a single frog and snake would be killed over a 10-year period during normal golf course operations. 130 frog egg masses, though, would be destroyed each year, the report estimated.

Bo Links, co-defendant in the suit and co-founder of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, described Thursday’s dismissal to Golf Digest as “a tremendous victory:”

“It now opens the door for restoration plans to move forward in earnest, including the restoration of Mackenzie features on the course and hopefully a Mackenzie museum in a new, restored clubhouse.”