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

HOLE SEVENTEEN faces west and presents an interesting layout. From the back tee, the fairway extends relatively level for ~200 yards before descending into a mini-valley that bottoms out ~80 yards from the green before ascending back up to level. A small shallow fairway bunker on the left side and three small bunkers opposite on the right are in play if you decide to lay-up your tee shot.

A wayward fading tee shot will find trees on the right side of the downslope into the valley. The left side of the fairway is a mix of wild grasses, trees, and a not too friendly rough on the downslope with plenty of tall trees in the area. A hook can easily find trouble.

A favorite strategy for power players is to hit strong off the tee and send the ball to the bottom of the valley, leaving an easy wedge shot to the green. Well, maybe not so easy if the ball lands in either of the two deep bunkers on the left of the green or the two moderately shallow bunkers on the right. Or if the ball lands short of the green where it's likely to roll a long way down the slope.

The long deep green has a significant back to front slope, and both sides of the green contribute additional slopes that feed the ball towards the center. A strong contour crosses the center/upper back of the green and dominates play in back hole locations making SEVENTEEN one of the more challenging greens to putt.

Player's key: pound your tee shot straight to the bottom of the valley to give yourself a good chance for birdie.

HOLE SEVENTEEN: Par 4, 382 / 366 / 359 / 351 yds from the tees. Rating is 4 handicap for men, 4 handicap for ladies.