Today was the official start of the 2010 SF City Championship and tomorrow looks like another very nice winter day in SF.
Today was quite frustrating at Lincoln, but I’m sure everyone else had similar tragedies. The only one I’ll mention is after successfully hitting the green with a 22 degree rescue to pin high on both 16 and 17, I walked off each hole with a 4 on my card. That’s golf at Lincoln, and requires one to suck it up……On to Harding Park.
Again this guide is strictly for qualifying in the SF City, meaning basically where to be aggressive and where not to be…so here we go.
#1 straight away 395 yard par 4
The driving line here is left center, a drive slightly missed left or right is still going to work. In these wet conditions the ball is getting no roll, so a higher launched drive tends to play more favorable on most tee shots. A shot coming into the green from left to right is the desired shot. I have always found this approach to play slightly longer than the yardage (add 5 yards). Start with a solid 4 here to get your round off to a smooth start.
#2 straight away slightly uphill 430 yard par 4
The drive is key here- a solid drive is required here to have a mid iron left to this tough hole. The shot always plays 10-15 yards longer and most players come up short. The bunkers off the tee to the left should be avoided, and the greenside bunker on the right is less than ideal as well. With a back pin, take at least an extra club for the uphill and head wind you’ll normally face. A solid 4 here is a very good score.
#3 165 yard par 3 – Although the tee can be placed back to 190 for match play, it’s usually at the 165 mark for stroke play. Again this hole plays a half club uphill and the green gets wider the further back you go on the green. Taking enough club is of paramount importance here, as I rarely hit a 7 iron which is my 165 club
#4 580 yard par 5 – don’t let yourself take the bait and fire left here off the tee…the fairway is more to the right and allows a better second shot that being in the left rough. I usually take the risk and choose a 3 metal for my second shot, as I prefer to be 100 yards or less into this green. The fairway also opens up right the further down you go. This green is quite long and wide, and can be deceptive. Always hit that shot a little further than you think as again the hole always seems to play a little longer
#5 Dogleg left 395 yard par 4 – A wise club decision is required here, often in match play I’m thrilled when my opponent chooses a driver, but if executed can provide a significant advantage to this long and narrow green. Most players feel they need to hook a shot of this tee, causing an over draw or push. A straight shot works fine, and hitting a 3 metal still leaves a relatively short shot. Take a 4 here and move on…
#6 Dogleg left 440 yard par 4 – This is my nemesis hole off the tee. It seems I either over hook my tee ball or push it right. I think hitting a straight drive at a right center target is the safe bet. The second shot will be challenging, but the green is quite wide. A put from the left side of the green to the right will give you a much easier putt, thus a cut shot into this green seems to play better than a draw. Another great hole to take a par 4 and move to #7.
#7 Straight away short par 4 335 yards – a birdie chance should be in the cards here. Taking an aggressive club off the tee is usually best, leaving a short shot into this somewhat blind uphill shot. The shot does usually play 5 yards longer than the yardage
#8 200 yard par 3 – take dead aim here at the middle of the green and forget about trying to squeeze a shot into the corners. The goal here is to leave with a par 3 and move on. The proper club is important, and although a downhill shot, I have always found the hole to play the approx yardage
#9 495 yard par 5 – this is a great chance to get one back. Take your drive down the left center as a missed drive right will make it impossible to reach the green in 2 shots. The second shot in will require a solid strike that should be aimed at the middle of the green. This is a stretch of 3 par 5 in 4 holes and you need to take advantage of the par 5
#10 550 yard par 5 – in the winter this hole is a three shot hole, getting properly positioned is important. A drive in the right center of the fairway leaves the best angle into the lay up area. I always take an aggressive club here to get as close to the green as I can. THIS SHOT IN PLAY LONGER THAN THE YARDAGE, and don’t expect a good lie for your third shot. Take a 5 and move on!
#11 185 yard par 3 – this is a great par three that requires a very solid and accurate tee ball. By taking enough club, you will open up the green. The front of the green is quite narrow, and the back widens the green considerably. This is typically a 5 iron to the front or middle and a 4 iron when the pin is back. Focus on making a 3 here and move on.
#12 480 yard dogleg left par 5 – this is your best chance for a birdie or eagle, but requires a solid and accurate tee shot. The right center is the ideal line off the tee, leaving the best angle to the green. The second shot from 200+ should be directed to the right center of the green, as a miss left is a tough up and in. This hole is a great chance to make up a shot, but be patient!!
#13 405 yard par 4 – one of the new holes that was changed significantly during the remodel. A drive down the right center is the best line here, a miss left is a very bad idea, as you’ll be blocked out form the green. This shot also is usually longer than the distance and a solid shot to the middle of the green is not a bad idea.
#14 440 straight away par 4 – this is a fantastic hole!! The tee shot missed slightly right is better than a shot missed left (it will leave you 20 yards or more uphill from a gully left) rarely have i seen a player go long on the second shot, but short I see about every time I play the hole. TAKE AT LEAST 1 CLUB MORE UP THE HILL. This is a small target, take aim at the middle of the green and be pleased with a par 4.
#15 405 dogleg left par 4 – this hole can be played with either a driver or 3 metal off the tee. The driver will bring the bunker and hazard left into play, while the 3 metal will leave a longer shot into an elevated green that also seems to play back uphill. I suggest taking a conservative line into the green and avoid the bunker on the right.
#16 330 par 4 – this is a great short par 4 that requires some thought before you decide what to hit off the tee. If you are in complete control of your driver, this is not a bad place to pull it out, otherwise take a shorter club (rescue or 3 metal) and keep your shot far enough left to have a clear shot. The driver usually will bring into play the bunkers on the left that are approx 240 yards off the tee. Try to keep your second shot slightly below the hole for a more desired uphill putt
#17 175 par three – this is a great par three and requires a solid shot through a column of trees both left and right. I usually hit a 6 iron here and take aim at the middle of the green.
#18 440 yard dogleg left par 4 – seems like a lot of dogleg left holes at Harding Park, and this is the signature hole. Taking a safe line towards the left bunker is the safe bet here, and challenging the left side can result in a quick 6 or more. This has been my personal nemesis hole and cost me a chance at the title in 2008 on the 36 hole of the finals, when I made a bogey here. There is no safe way to play this hole, and bailing right on the second shot, will leave a very difficult up and in. Try to gage what you need here, and don’t take worse than a bogey 5.
These are just suggestions for a conservative approach to advancing into match play in the city. Next week I’ll cover my approach to how I play each hole in match play, which is different from the qualifier.
Enjoy the glorious sunshine, play well, and look for more insights into the SF City as well as other commentary.