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

Hole 9 is located on the eastern boundary of LMGC with a line of tall trees guarding the entire length of the left side of the fairway. Trees also line the first ~250 yards of the right side and require that your tee shot go through a somewhat narrow chute before the fairway opens up. View of the green from the tee is blocked by a cluster of trees that extends from the left at ~130 yards from the hole. 

The aim line from the tee is toward the center of the clubhouse that can be seen in the distance. It sends the ball on a trajectory along the right side of the fairway towards the wide open safe area for a direct view of the green.

A long drive with a gentle fade can put the ball in position to reach the green with a second shot. A more conservative strategy would place the tee shot straight down the middle of the relatively flat fairway followed by a second shot that would put the ball a comfortable wedge distance from the hole. 

The approach to the green is narrow with a slightly uphill slope that continues to the back fringe. A ball coming in too fast is likely to roll off the back edge into thick rough bordered by a nearby OB line. A long bunker guards the left side of the green, and a deep bunker is nestled against the right front fringe. Two additional bunkers extend back along the right side of the fairway, and they’re in play for wayward approach shots.

The green has subtle contours that allow for relatively straight putts from most lies, Gentle slopes coming in from the back fringe will feed the ball towards the center, and will be a factor when putting to a hole cut into the back section of the green. Overall, the hole plays like a long par 4 and accurate shots off the tee and fairway puts you in good position for a birdie. 

We think the new handicaps are misleading on this hole. This hole presents a great birdie opportunity for good players and a chance to make up for the bogey that's often made on the previous hole.

Player's key: avoid the left side of the fairway for a safe approach to the large friendly green.

HOLE NINE: Par 5,  516 / 502 / 492 / 481 yds from the tees, rated at 7 handicap for men, 5 handicap for ladies.