The Metropolitan Golf Links is the only city of Oakland course that the public routinely sees because of its location next to Oakland International Airport.
Located on Doolittle Drive with a utilitarian clubhouse that would be expected for a municipal course, the links-style course receives plenty of play. When we teed off on the day after Labor Day, the course was jammed. We are surprised that we were paired with a couple from our hometown of Pleasanton who literally live about a half-mile from us off the same street. He’s a member of the Las Positas Men’s Club, but he and his wife often drive to Oakland to play Metropolitan. We welcomed their guidance.
The links-style course was designed by Fred Bliss and Hall-of-Famer Johnny Miller. It is walkable with little elevation change. When Bliss and Miller started out on the site, which was a dumping ground for mud dredged from the San Francisco Bay, they brought in two feet of sand to cover everything. That provided a base for hybrid turf that has great drainage during the winter months. In true links style, there’s very few trees on the site—mostly shrubs and grasses growing in the wetlands.
The front nine starts with a straight-forward 366-yard par 4 before water comes into play on both sides of No. 2, which is a 397-yard par 4. The pond in play on the right side of No. 2 comes back into play on No. 6. The front side has few forced carries until you get to No. 9 that runs back to the clubhouse. It plays 421 and is the No. 1 handicap. It’s a tough tee shot visually from the tips.
The fairways throughout are ample so you can routinely pull your driver.
Tees on the backside require forced carries on a few holes and the designers took advantage of a creek that bisects four fairways. No. 10 has a sharp dogleg at the end of the fairway that requires an approach shot over junk. The approach at No. 17 also is over a pond so be prepared for the challenge of the back nine.
Nos. 15 and 16 run by the eastern and southern borders of the property. On 16, you can hear people firing away at a nearby gun range. And, of course, planes on approach to both Oakland International and the North Field are a near constant. The approach to North Field, which handles corporate jets, goes right over the golf course.
On a clear day, there are also wonderful views of both the downtown Oakland and the downtown San Francisco skylines.
The Bay-side location typically involves breezes and the routing is such that golfers will face holes into the wind as well as a few downwind holes, to say nothing of times when it’s a cross wind.
From the tips, Metropolitan plays 6,959 at a slope of 131. The whites play 6,069 at a 122 slope, which speaks to the playability for the average player.
By Tim Hunt