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

The elevated teeing areas at par-4 HOLE SEVEN reveal one of the more interesting combinations of challenge and beauty on the front nine. The opening to the fairway turf is protected by tall trees on the left and right. Driving strategies will play to your strength off the tee: a gentle fade over the left side trees, a gentle draw down the right side, or a penetrating shot down the middle. 

Both sides of the fairway slope down to the center and will feed the ball into position for a straight look at the green. A player in control of the driver can pound away and be left with little more than a mid-iron for the approach. The second shot is best when it has a high trajectory for the ball to hold on the fast multi-contoured green. If the ball strays into the rough on either side of the fairway, making par will require a carefully positioned second shot.

The green is guarded by a long bunker on the left, two bunkers on the right, and a wide patch of wild grass just a few feet down the slope at the back. A dominant ridge across the center of the green creates an upper level with a left to right slope that can often feed a strong approach shot into a moderately deep bunker on the right. When the hole position is on the upper level, putts are affected by interactions between the west-to-east slope and a back to front slope. A long putt from the front of the green to the back should be aimed to the left to account for the subtle contours at the back.

The front section of the green is defined by the dominant ridge across the center and a strong slope down through the narrow opening from the fairway. The bunkers in front are cut close to the sides of the green. A ball hit a little too firmly out of one bunker can easily roll across the narrow front portion of the green and find its way into the opposite bunker. 

Player's key: place a high approach shot to the left center of the green to hold the putting surface

HOLE SEVEN: Par 4,  458 / 434 / 413 / 397 yds from the tees, rated 5 handicap for men, 13 handicap for ladies.