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

The starting hole of the back nine presents you with a relatively flat fairway and a green that’s ~400 yards away from the back tee. A shallow fairway bunker is in play ~230 yards away on the left, with plenty of trees nearby and bordered by a patch of nasty rough. On the right, tall trees line the fairway and cover the adjacent LMGC driving range with its share of tough rough. The handicaps here can be misleading for a hole that will challenge your skill..

An errant tee shot to either side can be difficult to find. And if you find it, a trajectory through trees with low hanging branches is almost certain to limit your options. Just in case you wondered, a straight shot off the tee is advisable, and the hole is short enough that a conservative club choice will leave a comfortable distance to the green. 

We think that the green complex is what makes this hole so challenging. Trees on the right near the hole are a factor in chips and pitches from the right rough. The right fringe of the green is bordered by a long deep bunker, and the rough further right is most unpleasant. The left front of the green is guarded by a moderately deep bunker. The green has a prominent back to front slope, and it typically plays fast.

The green is narrow in front, opening up towards the back with gentle slopes along the fringes to feed the ball to the center. A ball that lands in the front left bunker -- and it can happen easily if you are finessing a long approach shot from the left side of the fairway -- requires a delicate touch and good backspin to hold the ball on the green. It’s not uncommon for an aggressive swing to send the ball rolling into the right side bunker. 

An uphill putt is definitely preferable on this green. Sideways putts from the fringe area will curve significantly more on the front of the green than in back. An approach shot that comes in too hard can easily roll off the back of the green down a moderate slope.

You will require a soft touch with your wedge to recover and hold the ball in position when the hole is cut in back. Overall, this green ranks among the more challenging on the course, and together with the limitations presented by the rough it makes par especially gratifying, and a birdie will boost your confidence more than it should. Patience and ball placement will be rewarded here.

Player's Key: a straight teel shot along the right-center of the fairway can turn a potential bogey into a birdie.

HOLE TEN. Par 4,  391 / 375 / 363 / 350 yds from the tees. Rated at 10 handicap for men, 14 handicap for ladies.