Staff, golfers suspect arson after fire at Golden Gate Park Golf Course in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Golden Gate Golf Course is a place where the smell of fresh-cut grass should never mix with soot and ash.

It does, Monday as only a burned shell remains of the course's iconic, 1950's era clubhouse.

"This was like the Cheers of local golf. Everyone knew your name," said Justin Moore, the General Manager. "I am suspicious."

The clubhouse burned early Monday morning, taking with it a snack bar, grill, office, merchandise, and retail items. It went fast.

There have been other fires on the course. In 2016, someone set benches ablaze in the fairways.

Last year, a fire in a homeless encampment caused light damage to trees.

"I cannot pinpoint why someone would want to burn this place," said Justin. "But I do live in the neighborhood and there is a lot of erratic behavior."

About 130 people play the par-3, Jack Fleming-designed course every day, including local children who learn golf through the First Tee Program. They had this week off due to the July 4 holiday. "We will be able to accommodate them," said Dan Burke, Executive Director of the program.

"They have lots of locals, lots of regulars, lots of tourists who just come here to enjoy the wonderful scenery, and the actual golf course that's there, and the building itself. And unfortunately there's extensive damage to this building. It's going to be some time before that's actually brought back up," said San Francisco Fire Department Lieutenant Jonathan Baxter.

Doug Dietz, who has played at Golden Gate for two decades, said the course has lost more than a clubhouse. "It's a gathering place. People say golf is a rich man's game. Not here. It's anyone's game."

The San Francisco Fire Department has yet to determine a cause. The clubhouse did have security cameras. San Francisco Fire is looking at those videos. "The fire is suspicious due to the timing and location, however it is too early to speculate as to the cause and origin. Our Investigators are currently working on this fire and we will update accordingly," said Lt. Johnathan Baxter.

Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.