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JT'S PERSPECTIVE: PLAYING HOLE ONE at LAKE MERCED GOLF CLUB

The opening hole at LMGC presents a level tree-lined fairway that curves gently to the left towards a moderately large green. A large, not-too-deep bunker protects the left side of the green and narrows the approach. The green has moderate contours that can play fast. A ball that comes in hot can easily roll through the green and end up in thick rough in the back, with a modest uphill chip shot that can be tough to execute when needed for a back hole location.

From JT’s perspective, hole one can be a deceptively difficult par four. Careful ball position off the tee that sends the ball to the center right of the fairway will reward the player who does not get greedy and forces a birdie attempt. At ~430 yards from the back tees, par is a satisfying score on this opening hole. It’s still a challenge when play is from any of the forward tees because good ball placement in the fairway is still needed.

 

A high controlled fade off the tee will let the strong hitter carry the trees on the left at the slight dogleg and drop the ball in the center of the right center of the fairway. A high approach shot that allows the ball to float down onto the green and hold its position is the key to a birdie on this hole. 

A gentle draw off the tee or a straight shot down the right center is a safe option as long as you throttle back and keep the ball in the fairway. Approaching the hole from the right side of the fairway is always the best strategy because it avoids the large bunker protecting the right sight of the green.

The green has subtle undulations that interact with gentle slopes feeding in from right to left and from back to front. As always, speed control is a must on the downhill putts. A good read will be rewarded.

Player's key: drive the ball to center/right side of the fairway.

HOLE ONE: Par 4 (men) Par 5 (ladies),   432 / 419 / 408 / 395 yds from the tees, rated 9 handicap for men, 5 handicap for ladies.