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JT's PERSPECTIVE PLAYING HOLE TWELVE at  LAKE MERCED GOLF CLUB

HOLE TWELVE, a par three of moderate length, is one of the easier holes on the course, especially if you can hit the ball off the tee with a high trajectory onto the green. If accuracy is a problem for you, then the hole toughens up considerably. 

The tee shot must carry over a steeply descending rough composed of wild grasses, followed by a steeply ascending fairway to the green. The wild grasses/rough continues to border the left side to the top of the hill. The right rough is playable unless the tee shot fade becomes a nasty slice. The ball can find its way into a cluster of trees on the right hillside that will require a careful wedge shot or a short iron punch shot to reach and hold the green. 

Two separate sets of teeing areas add diversity to the approach shots and bring different looks at the hole. The left set of tees can be played to a longer length and are at a higher elevation than the right set. The green plays slightly uphill from the right tees, and it may be a factor in your club selection. Anything less than a confident tee shot from either side will require playing the next longer club to be safe.

The green is protected by two deep bunkers extending from the front sides that narrow the opening to the putting surface. The left bunker runs the length of the green, the right bunker is just big enough to capture more tee shots than would be expected. We think there's a ball magnet beneath the surface, but my sand wedge work has failed to uncover it yet -- but there's plenty of opportunities remaining however.

The green has a prominent back to front slope with the sides funneling the ball towards the center front. A tee shot that rolls through the green needs a wedge recovery play with a soft touch. An agressive downhill putt can easily run down the steep approach and leave you with a tricky uphill wedge shot.  

The results on Hole Twelve can easily be a turning point in match play -- we've seen more than one match end here when there is a mismatch between the skill of the opponents. An overly ambitious bunker shot can leave a long putt that can easily become a 3-putt and take its toll on your stroke play score. All that considered, it's a par 3 hole that is genuinely satisfying to play, rewarding you with a fair share of birdies to counterbalance those bogeys and worse that lie in waiting.

Player's key: hit the ball high off the tee to hold the fast surface of the green.

HOLE TWELVE:  Par 3,  196 / 175 / 152 / 140 yards off the teeing areas, a 16 handicap for both men and ladies.