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

HOLE THIRTEEN fairway runs east and lies along the north edge of the course. It's bordered by tall thick shrubs, thick rough, and "OB" on the left; and a cart path running it's length along the right. The fairway extends relatively flat to a shallow bunker that's in play on the left ~200 yards from the back tee. It gets plenty of action.

The fairway descends gently to a low area that lies about 90 yards from the green before rising steeply to the putting surface. A solidly hit straight tee shot that carries as far as the back edge of the fairway bunker can roll to the low point of the valley leaving a comfortable wedge shot for the approach and a good chance at birdie. Ball trajectories that stray off the fairway will yield a view of trees between you and the green for your next shot. 

The green is large and moderately contoured, with the front half sloping towards the steep fairway apron. A deep bunker on the left and a wide somewhat shallow bunker on the right protect the green. The back of the green falls off with a moderate grade that requires a careful wedge shot to hold your target on the putting surface.

Like most greens at LMGC, the "reads" are fair but downhill putts are made challenging by subtle slope changes. A downhill putt that rolls a little too fast may come to rest 10 - 15 yards down the fairway apron at the front edge of the green right, sharing the same fate as an approach shot that falls a little short of the putting surface. 

All features considered, Hole Thirteen plays easier than its handicap rating for players who can reach the green with their approach shot. Steady play will yield par and help you get ready for the challenging final stretch of the back nine.

Player's key: a tee shot that's long and straight down the center will tame the hole, especially if you can reach the bottom of the valley ~100 yards past the fairway bunker. Long hitters may get a slight uphill lie to make for an easy wedge approach shot and a good chance at birdie.

HOLE THIRTEEN. Par 4. 376 / 364 / 347 / 335 yards from the tees. Handicap rating is 8 for men, 12 for women.