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Lake Chabot Golf Course

on November 23, 2015

Golfers teeing it up on Thursday morning at Lake Chabot Golf Course must count themselves among the luckiest people in Oakland. Or perhaps not. “Golf is like a love affair,” the sportswriter Arthur Daley once wrote. “If you don’t take it seriously, it’s no fun; if you do take it seriously, it breaks your heart.”

Golf has come a long way from its modern origins as a diversion for Scottish sheepherders in the 15th century to a $70 billion per year global industry in the 21st century. And while Lake Chabot in the East Bay hills of south Oakland may be just one of nearly 16,000 golf courses in the US, players on this inexpensive municipal course face unique challenges that evoke the game’s origin as well as its present. They must judge varying winds and shots up and down steep hills with epic views of the bay, aim tee shots to avoid cars on fairways that criss-cross the access road, and strike shots off patchy-to-nonexistent grass during a severe drought. But Chabot’s most unique quality: its signature finishing hole-the 667-yard par 6 18th, rumored to be the only par 6 west of the Mississippi River.

“Golf satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect,” according to legendary player Arnold Palmer. “What other people may find in poetry or art museums, I find in the flight of a good drive.” Few places to admire that drive can compare with the tee on Chabot’s legendary par 6 18th. Players launch the ball between the trees, toward the Oakland hills, and careening down the steep sloped fairway – toward the green, a birdie or eagle, and a thrill to last until their next morning escape.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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