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JT's PERSPECTIVE: PLAYING HOLE FOUR   at LAKE MERCED GOLF CLUB

HOLE FOUR faces east with an uphill fairway that rises to a broad gentle ridge before descending to a modest depression, then rising again to the green ~400 yds from the back tee. The double sloped fairway, together with possibly the most difficult putting surface on the course combine to make this hole a tough challenge for everyone.

The tree lined fairways and some thick patches of rough put a premium on straight tee shots. A long ball that drifts to the right runs the risk of landing in either of the two bunkers that lie between the fairways for hole four and hole five. If you miss the bunkers, then your next shot will need to thread the needle between the trees -- or you might consider hitting up the adjacent fairway for a good look at the fourth green with your approach shot.

The green is protected across its center and left front edge by a large deep bunker leaving a narrow fairway approach to the right front edge. A second bunker guards the back right of the green. The left side of the green falls off into a low grassy area that requires a strategic carefully executed wedge shot to give the best hope of saving par. The back of the green is bordered by a steep rise that catches overly strong approach shots. 

The green has a narrow somewhat flat segment that stretches across the back surface before descending aggressively to the front. The slope can easily send a downhill putt off the green where it can roll 10 - 20 yds or more down the narrow fairway approach, or into the large front bunker.

Player's key: keep the ball below the hole with your approach shot for the best chance at par.

HOLE FOUR: Par 4 (men) Par 5 (ladies). 399 / 381 / 370 / 357 yards from the tees. Handicap is 1 for men and 3 for ladies.