December 12, 2017
Late S.F. Mayor Ed Lee Big Supporter of Golf
As San Francisco Chronicle golf writer Ron Kroichick noted, it was just over a month ago that San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee proudly carried the Ryder Cup into a news conference at the Olympic Club as part of the announcement that the 2032 Ryder Cup was coming.
“He was so excited about bringing the Cup into the room,” Olympic Club President Dan Dillon told Kroichick.
On Tuesday morning, Lee, who played a key role in bringing the 2015 Match Play Championship and 2020 PGA Championship to Harding Park, died unexpectedly of cardiac arrest at the age of 65.
“It’s a huge loss for golf in San Francisco, no question,” Dillon said. “We wouldn’t have the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park without him. He was a big supporter of the First Tee and a big supporter of women’s golf. … I’m just in shock.”
As Krocihick reported, Dillon, a political lobbyist and government affairs consultant, played golf with Lee on Saturday, in the Olympic Club’s Christmas tournament. They spent much of the round talking about their planned trip to next year’s Ryder Cup in Paris.
“The sport was just so important to him,” Dillon said. “He was a little kid when it came to golf. He wasn’t the greatest player, but he was always optimistic the next shot would be the great one. We’ve lost a massive advocate for golf and future events in the city. … Ed was just an extraordinary supporter of golf. It was a passion. It was his one true recreational outlet, that got him away from politics and city business.”
Lee was on hand at last year’s special event celebrating the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco City Championship. “Thanks for keeping this championship running,” Lee told the tournament’s brass. “Let’s keep the entire world about golf.”
Lee’s passion for golf was also recognized by United States Golf Association officials. The 2012 U.S. Open was held at the Olympic Club during Lee’s time as mayor and will return to San Francisco for the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic.
“The USGA is deeply saddened by the death of Mayor Lee, who was not only an important proponent of our championships in the San Francisco area, but also an avid golf fan who inspired all around him to love the game,” Executive Director Mike Davis said in a statement sent to The Chronicle. “We send our heartfelt condolences to his family, as we celebrate all he contributed to his community.”