San Francisco City Golf Championship – Round of 32

Today was another day of firsts for me at the SF City. I have never before played behind two brothers battling in a match. Unfortunately the official results just show Galletti as the winner…? I would love to know if 14 year lefty Nicolo defeated his older brother Roberto in what looked to be a very close and intense match. Recently I’ve had the pleasure to be paired with both of them twice, once in the final round of the Amateur Golf.com Christmas Classic at Del Monte in December, and then again recently the final day at the Amateur Golf.com Wine County amateur at Stonetree GC.

What I can tell you is both these guys can play, but can you imagine being over 20 years old and playing your 14 year old brother? As we  patiently waited the back nine on every shot, it seemed like the Galletti brothers were grinding over 2 foot putts. Don’t get me wrong; with the rain soaked greens on the back nine, even a one foot putt was not to be taken for granted.

The other first was in over 30 years playing in the SF City, I’ve never been asked twice for our group to speed up the pace of play, only to finish #9 and have a three group back up on #10. I can understand putting regular play out in front of us on #1 before we start at 7:30, but to jam up the back nine as we make the turn was something new to me. Fortunately, the wait didn’t affect my play as after turning the front two up, I went birdie, birdie, eagle on 10-12 (although 10 was a conceded 10 footer). When my match ended on the 15th hole, we had already been on the course for 4 hours and 50 minutes.

Match play was meant to be played at a brisk pace, and personally I feel something needs to be reviewed if rounds are taking up to or exceeding 5 hours, especially in the rain. It would be my suggestion to the Harding Park management  and tournament officials, to not jam the 10th tee with play, so that those players making the turn can continue the even flow of their matches. Maybe it’s just that I’ve always been a fast player and somewhat impatient, especially now at age 51.

Today, my worthy opponent Scott Roak probably didn’t play his best game or even his average game, but he is a fine gentleman and fierce competitor and I enjoyed being in his group with his dad, Bob for two days. This is again, what I love about amateur golf and the competition; you’ll meet a lot of great new people!

I must admit that early this morning while warming up at the Olympic Club driving range I was a bit concerned with how I was hitting the ball (although usually I am just getting my body loose). This morning I was hitting all my warm up shots a little heavy, and my driver was flying all over the place. This carried over to my first tee shot of the match, a snap hook off the 1st tee that resembled my 1st two tee shots off #1 last year when I played in the British Senior Open at Sunningdale. Like many of the greatest players in the game have always said, that first tee shot off #1 comes with butterflies, I know they’ll be there, and I look forward to them.

Fortunately I was able to snap hook a 6 iron from behind the left trees onto the back fringe and make par. Losing the first hole is never a way to start a match. After the quick hook on #1 I was able to get my driver going for the rest of the round.

The other interesting thing that happened today was my longtime best ball partner and dear friend, Darryl Donovan called me at 7:15 while I was on the range, to tell me he was on the 101 at a complete stop. The CHP had closed the 101 in south San Jose due to some downed power lines. Unfortunately for Darryl, he had to somehow get off the freeway and speed the rest of the way, arriving 5 minutes before our starting time. This glitch did not bode well for Darryl as he fell 6 down after 9 holes to George Gandranata.

The event is now down to 16 players, of which 9 I know. There is some extreme talent left with George Gandranata (2009 NCGA Champ and #2 in NCGA points), Geoff Gonzalez (2009 State Amateur Champ and 5th in NCGA points), Scott Hardy (2-time US Mid Amateur semi-finalist), Ricky Stockton (3rd in 2009 NCGA points), and I guess I’d have to put myself in the mix (NCGA 2009 Player of the year) and the only past champ left in the tournament (1999).

After getting a preview of George Gandranata’s  game today, I know I am going to have my hands full next Saturday. George makes very few mistakes, and we’ve already had an epic battle in the semi finals of the NCGA amateur last Aug that ended victoriously for George on the 19th hole. I will need to play at my highest level to have a chance at victory against George. But regardless of the outcome, I know I will enjoy our match!

With rain forecast thru the week, it looks like another very wet weekend up ahead of us and unfortunately Harding with no drainage in the fairways will be close to unplayable. But the “City” will go on, and in two weeks the 2010 SF City Champ will have survived one of the games toughest events to win. The back to back 36 holes in the semis and finals will test those that survive to the max as mental and physical fatigue will play a major role in the final outcome

The very best of luck to the remaining 15 players and stay tuned for more golf action this coming week.

Randy Haag

1st Day of Match play in the SF City

Harding Park was in much better shape for the start of the 2010 City Championship today. Many of the uncut fairways had a nice trim, making the round a lot more enjoyable than the mud fest of last week’s qualifying rounds. Unfortunately the good weather is about to end as rain is the forecast for many days to come.

My round got off to a solid start with 5 consecutive pars with the lone bogey of the day coming at #6. My worthy opponent was a fine young man from Pleasanton, Justin Shotwell, along with his dad on the bag. I’m sure Justin was disappointed with how he played but I could tell he is a fine player and has a lot of great golf ahead of him.

My putter finally started cooperating on #10 where I made a sliding 12 footer for birdie, followed by an 8 footer at #12 and then 12 feet again for birdie on #13 to close out the match.  During the off days I worked on keeping my body and head still while putting, which haunted me during the qualifying rounds.  The effort seems to be paying off early.

As the day progressed the temperature dropped as the wind picked up, which made me appreciative that I was able to avoid 14-18. My intent was to have many photos of the matches today, but tomorrow I should be able to post some players wearing their rain gear fighting the elements at Harding.

At this time the only results I am aware of are: Scott Hardy def Nick Sako 7&5, Patrick Grimes def Bruce Hanavan 5&4 and Andrew Biggadike def Dwight Eschliman 5&4

I was told by the tournament director that during the match play portion we’d have live scoring.  Perhaps that will begin later, or I may be looking in the wrong place.

It’s remarkable how many young players make match play in this event, as it seems like over half the field is High School or College aged. This was not always the case. Twenty years ago you’d maybe have one or two High School players and a handful of college players. Most of us would know most all of the competitors that would qualify for match. Lately it seems I only recognize less than half the names of the players that advance to match play. This is a testament to how the game has grown over the years. There are now thousands of good scratch tournament players in California alone, which makes all the amateur events extremely competitive.

In years past it was unthinkable that a teenager could possibly win the City Championship, while now…not only have two teenagers won back to back years (Martin Trainer in 08’ and Carlos Briones in 09’) it wouldn’t surprise me if the trend continues. I can assure you whatever intimidation factor the best players may have had in the past…those days are gone!

What I personally love about this great game, especially in match play, is that your ball doesn’t know how old you are OR how young and inexperienced you may be. The key to match play has always to play your own game and play to your strengths.

Thanks to all of you for following this blog, I hope to keep improving the content, photos and soon video to make this a fun and enjoyable site to keep an eye on.

More tomorrow

RH

Big Day for Golf as Tiger finally comes out of the woods


I have to admit I’ve always been a big fan of Tiger Woods. I first met young Eldridge when he was 16 years old (before he was really called Tiger) after seeing him hoist a 6 iron from 200 yards out at the 2nd hole at Pebble where the ball sailed up like a 9 iron into the fog, and came straight down into the middle of the green, I then knew he was a cut above the top amateur talent. After hearing about every Tiger joke/slander finally the barrage of Tiger talk has settled down. Although it’s hard for me to feel sorry for a guy that’s bagged a cool BILLION playing golf, I think it’s time that he faces the drummer and acts like a mature adult and faces his audience. Yeah some say Tiger is the game, others say he’s not bigger than the game, but the bottom line is Pro golf suffers without him.  I’m not convinced that amateur golf suffers without him though, we as amateurs aren’t paid for TV ratings and for wearing Nike logos. We play because we love the game, and love to compete.

It’s really too bad that Professional Golf now dominates all the media channels while great historical events like the SF City have seen their media attention shrink to almost nothing. It was incredible that in 1984 when I played in my 1st City finals against legendary Aly Trompais, the Chronicle Sports page had featured on the cover of the sports page “Battle between Brokers for city title”. I understand why amateur golf doesn’t sell advertising or newspapers, and Tiger does. Although now what will advertisers do other than Nike that has the cliché right for Tiger “Just Do It”. I’m not knocking Tiger, and maybe I am envious of his massive success and bankroll. Hopefully after tomorrow we’ll know when he’ll be back to once again dominate the game.

My goal in writing this blog is to offer valuable information about many aspects of golf and my life long experience as a successful Amateur player.

  • Interviews with several top Northern California PGA Instructors in addition to others across the country.  I plan to interview these instructors and ask them a series of questions that will help you determine who is best suited for you and your game.
  • Important ingredients that go into becoming a successful player and how nutrition plays a major role.
  • Uncover and locate the most advanced physical golf training techniques.
  • The mental side of the game (very important).  This will include how to deal with the yips and other mental hurdles we all encounter over time.
  • Ideas on what a typical day of training should be like if you want to seriously improve your game and the time needed.

SF CITY GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP MOVES INTO MATCH PLAY

Match play is how the game was originally meant to be played and still every major amateur event is played in a match play format – US Amateur, US Mid Amateur, British Amateur, California State Amateur, Northern California Amateur, and the SF City Championship all are match play events.

The SF City is one of the biggest and oldest amateur events anywhere and has a very rich history. The wonderful thing about golf is anyone at any skill level can find events to compete in.

Match play requires a different approach and strategy that I have certain beliefs about. Not always does the best player win in match play, and often the player who plays best towards the end of the match usually wins. It’s not like stroke play where each shot counts the same, in match play a horribly played hole results in merely a loss of that hole.

I have been quite fortunate to have played in hundreds of match play events, and have fared well (won the 3rd most matches in USGA events in the 1990’s behind Tiger and Jerry Courville) with over 25 USGA match play wins and over a hundred match play wins between the SF City, Nor Cal amateur and State Amateur. This experience still doesn’t take the butterflies away on the 1st tee or even the 18th tee…it keeps the pressure on you throughout the whole match.

With that said I now will give you my keys to winning matches in the SF City with shot by shot analysis of the front nine, and then tomorrow the back nine at Harding Park. But before I begin I’d like to make a few comments about my experience at Harding Park this afternoon. I was thrilled to see a contingent of mowers on the front nine giving the fairways a much needed trim. While on the 4th hole I met the head of the greens keepers Kevin Reavey, who told me that they haven’t been able to mow at normal intervals for the past two months due to heavy rainfall. The front nine is still very soft and moist, while the back is in much dryer and in better condition. The course will again play long which will require a strategy different than when the course is running and rolling. All yardages and sight lines are from the blue tees. Photos of each hole will be below the description of how I suggest playing it.

Hole #1 395…This straight away par 4 doesn’t require length or great accuracy off the tee. The proper target is the double trees just left of the green. The fairway is actually on the right portion of what you’ll see, but a miss left leaves a bad angle and tree trouble. The goal here in match play is to get off to a good solid start. The green slopes slightly from left to right and like many of the greens are narrow at the front of the green. The front right bunker is to be avoided, especially with a right pin. The second shot to this green plays slightly uphill which I will typically add 5 yards to the distance. It amazing how many bogies are made under the jitters of the 1st hole. Take a safe line into the green and get off to a solid start. The green is 30 yards long and near the back of the green is 24 yards wide.

Hole #2 430…This is a tough uphill par 4. With zero roll in the fairway or rough, a solid drive is important. The big tree in the distance is the proper line with a right center drive leaving the best angle to this green. The fairway bunkers on the left are to be avoided and a miss right can have you blocked out. The second shot plays 7-10 yards uphill, and with cold and windy conditions it will play even longer. Over the past 30 years, I cannot tell you how many players I’ve seen come up significantly short on this hole. With the pins back, a shot left on the front of the green will make a two putt very challenging. Yet I’ve only seen a few shots ever sail over the back of this green which is sloped from back to front and left to right. The green is 34 yards long and gets progressively wider from front to back.  The back of green is 24 yards wide, while only 17 yards wide in the front third of the green. In match play, a regrettable blunder would be a short sided miss. I’ll win this hole 50% of the time with a par, so I take a very safe line into this green, and always take an extra club up the hill.

#3 165 or 183…It seems we play the back tee most of the time and again we are going uphill, so add another 5-10 yards to properly adjust. The shot to this green should be aimed at the far left tree (of 4 trees) that are in the distance behind this green. I will work the ball off this tree to a right or left pin. As with hole #1, this green gets progressively wider from front to back. Fifteen yards onto this green is where the second tier begins with 5 yards to the top of the tier and another 15 yards to the back.  The first third of the green is 20 yards wide, while the back third widens to 33 yards. I again tend to error on the side of caution, knowing that a par on this hole wins often enough to warrant a conservative line. However, if my opponent has hit a shot that looks like a guaranteed birdie, I then will take dead aim into a corner. Another key to this hole is getting the ball on the right level, leaving a better chance at success. The grass around this green is very thick and uneven; a missed green here will be a challenge.

#4 580…The line off the tee here is the group of three trees in the distance, which is the middle of the fairway. This is a generous fairway at 34 yards wide along with another 10 yards on each side. The mistake I see here in match play is when someone lays to far back. Although the second shot may look narrow, the shot calls for a straight or slightly fading ball flight. The right side is where the fairway runs and leaves the best approach into this large green. Again, this green widens as you go back with a total length of 35 yards and a generous width of 28 yards towards the back of the green. The best approach is to leave your shot slightly left of the hole, which will usually give you an uphill putt. This is a hole you should aggressively approach to make a birdie 4. I again often see shots come up short on this approach as I think players don’t allow for the cool breezy conditions. During Feb. and March, less experienced players often get frustrated when their distance is negatively affected by the weather.

#5 395…This tee shot requires you to pull the club you have the most control over. If a driver is that club, pull the driver. I prefer a metal 3 off this tee which usually still only leaves a wedge into this narrow green. Getting the yardage into this green correct is key as this green is 45 yards long and 20 yards wide near the front and slims down to 14 yards wide near the back of the green. A shot missed left of the green will leave a very difficult up and in, especially if the pin is on the left. Give yourself a good uphill opportunity here by leaving your second shot a bit short and right of the target.

#6 440…As with #2, this is a longer par 4 that requires a solid tee shot. From the tee it looks like a very narrow opening, but don’t let that affect your target line which should be at a tree in the background in the distance. I have found a shot slightly missed right is now better than a hooked tee shot. A row of trees on the right are no longer looming to catch an errant drive down the right side. The angle into this very wide target is also best from the right. With the green at 34 yards wide and 34 yards deep, you have a very large target to negotiate. Taking the left bunker on requires an additional 10 yards from the front of the green. Typically I will work the ball from the middle of the green to keep a par as the primary objective. This hole, like #2, will be won 50% of the time in match play, with a par. Regardless of how you stand in match play, the wet conditions make it imperative to accept your pars on these tougher, longer holes and attack the shorter holes to gain ground on your opponent. This particular green crowns in the middle, causing balls to run off the green on both sides making for a difficult putt if you are on the wrong side of the slope. Try to leave your second shot on the proper half of this large green to afford yourself a better chance at a birdie.

#7 335 or 140…If we are able to use this saturated fairway, I suggest taking a club that will put you just short of the fairway bunker on the left center which is 245 yards off the tee. This shot plays a good 10 yards uphill and typically into the breeze. The temp tee is approx 140 yards from the middle of the green. This green is long at 42 yards and narrow at 15 yards in the front portion and 23 yards towards the back. A back left pin requires an additional 10 yards over the left bunker from the middle of the green. This is a birdie hole and should be attacked. I play the second shot a good 5 yards longer than the distance, which over the years has proven to be quite accurate.

#8 200…This downhill par 3 really never seems to play downhill unless you can feel a good breeze behind you. Again the trouble is short left and right. The pit short left is especially tough as the lie will never be good down there. I take my shots off the middle of the green, as the green at the middle is the widest at 34 yards. The key is to hit a solid shot that gets you somewhere in the proper quadrant of this green. This is also a hole that normally will produce a good result with a par 3 in match play. With the rough conditions surrounding the greens, there is an extra premium on getting your shots on the putting surface.

#9 495…Bombs away- be aggressive off this tee as a good drive should leave you a reachable second shot into this green. I typically take a left center line down this fairway to avoid any chance of flirting with the right fairway bunkers. The key to the second shot here is to NOT short side yourself into this green. A shot in the left bunker will be a very difficult up and in, same with a right pin, right miss. This is a long green at 37 yards, and is typically quite slow putting up towards the back of the green. Be aggressive here, make a 3 or 4.

CONCLUSION…The front nine requires you to get your shots further into the green to be on the safe side. If you are miss hitting shots, the front can leave you well behind in the match. I believe taking more club will leave you with better opportunities in match play and keep you from short sided attempts at par. In match play you are playing a combination of the course FIRST, and your opponent SECOND.  Of course I will I take a safer line if my opponent is in trouble. But be careful not to get away from the shots you are most comfortable with by  staying committed to the shot making that got you here and keep breathing as the pressure in match play is always more intense than stroke play.

Tomorrow, more thoughts on the back nine at Harding Park if the weather cooperates.

SF City Golf Championship- Guide to Harding in Stroke Play

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.

Guide to qualifying for the San Francsico City

There is a difference between a 36 hole qualifier and the strategy required to be successful in match play. Today I’ll cover my tips to qualifying at Lincoln Park and Harding Park I’ll cover tomorrow. Today’s featured amateur is Ray Pellegrini who I believe has qualified for match play in the SF City over 30 consecutive times (I believe last year may have broken his incredible streak). Personally I’ve made it through to match play over 25 times, missing just twice. Let’s start by thinking about the task at hand, which is to be in the top 63 in the qualifier. Historically this qualifier has been played under tough conditions, which is reflective in the high qualifying scores. The scores even seem higher relative to par at Lincoln park as opposed to Harding. It’s very simple- YOU MUST HAVE TREMENDOUS PATIENCE AT LINCOLN PARK, and know that you will be rewarded with many horrible lies and putts that will bounce and carom all over the place.

Last year my goal was to AGAIN try to win the medalist honors which has eluded me for 30+ years. It seems I never can quite close the deal, especially with the tough finishing holes at Lincoln Park. Last year I finished at Lincoln in extremely tough conditions (high wind and rain) and was able to card an even par 68 that enabled me to finish in a tie for medalist (after a playoff, I had my 1st medalist position in the city). The approach is to qualify and move on into match play- hence taking undo risk is foolish. Having played with hundreds of other qualifiers, I am always taken aback by some of the foolish strategy I’ve witnessed in a qualifier.

This is how I approach playing Lincoln on an average day, when my body feels average, and the course is in average condition for Lincoln. #1 a straight away uphill par four – 316 yards This may be the toughest 316 yd par four in the world for many reasons- the tee shot is NOT as wide open as it seems from the tee, if you stray to the right you will be blocked out by the daunting tree that protect the right side of the green. There is ample room left off the tee, but some tree limbs stick out a bit that visually steer a player right. STAY left off the tee, and hit whatever club you have the MOST confidence in (hopefully a 3 metal or driver). This is not a hole you want more than 100 yard approach shot into. The green can be very difficult to hit as the approach shot is steeply uphill and it plays a good 10 yards longer than the distance. Sometimes the green is actually firm, which makes going long a possibility. Your goal here is to make a 4 and I’m sure most are quite pleased walking off this green with par. (my personal stroke average on this hole must be at least 4.5)

#2 this hole changed to #2 after originally being #12 but wisely they re-routed the course to eliminate the log jam on the old #2 which is now #12 a par three up the hill. #2 is only 257 yards long, and is a hole I believe should be attacked with a 3 wood or driver. If the wind is not blowing hard in your face, this is easily reachable off the tee with ample room right since the trees have been thinned significantly on the right side. Hard left is the miss, and this two tired green gives players fits- 90%+ of the players don’t get their second shot back to the second tier, which is a big mistake (and can lead to a 3 putt) you want to be aggressive with your shot if you don’t drive the green and get the ball on the back tier (which is usually where the pin is placed). This uphill putt is especially slow and requires a good firm whack to get the ball all the way to the hole.

#3 156 yard par 3 – What a hole….it only takes one time to remember how punishing this little par three is if you lose your shot right and go OB, now looking at a 5 or 6. The green area is actually quite generous which is deceiving from the tee box. Usually this is a 7 or 8 iron to the left center of the green. Be careful as the tee box aims you right, make sure you get properly aligned here. Many shots also get snagged by the large tree guarding the left side of the green.I’d rather challenge the tree than flirt with the OB.Take a par 3 here and move on!!

#4 321 par 4 – the mistake usually made here is players bail out left, and get stuck behind a group of trees that look Innocent off the tee. There is more room right than you can see from the tee. I take dead aim at the green and always hit driver to ensure I’m down the hill with a short shot to the green. This is always a tough fairway to draw a decent lie, so don’t get freaked out if you have a thin muddy lie, with a back left pin sitting on the ridge. This will be a very challenging shot, but focus on getting the ball to the back left level, leaving a more reasonable putt. Come up short and a very tough two putt awaits you. This is historically a VERY slow green. Make a 4 here and happily walk up the hill to the 5th tee!

#5 359 par 4 – a long par four (at Lincoln), but most likely will be a wedge off a steep side hill lie that can create some real challenges. 90% of the time the pin will be middle left (sucker pin) off the side hill lie, I don’t suggest taking dead aim at a left pin that has roughly half the landing area that you’ll have at the middle of the green. OB looms over the green, and a shot short of the green leaves a challenging chip shot. This is a hole to take caution on and get your second shot on the middle of the green for a relatively easy two putt.

#6 285 par 4 – I always suffer over being aggressive on this hole, but the risk doesn’t warrant the potential reward, the more club you choose the more of a cut shot will be required. The safe bet is a 3 or 4 iron off the tee leaving a good yardage to the pin. Again this second shot requires some precision and thought. Usually with a back right pin, a shot to the middle right is the smart play. Going long here can result in a very high score and is not worth the risk. For those taking a more aggressive club off the tee have a better chance to get a ball back to the pin. Again…a 4 is not a bad score here!!

#7 334 par four – this can be a very challenging hole with trouble right and trees left. If you have great confidence in your driver, then a solid drive aimed at the Transamerica Tower is a good line. Any tee shot over the hill is going to leave a tricky downhill shot that is tough to judge. I think this is a good hole for a 3 medal off the tee leaving a 60-80 yard second shot. The pin historically is in the back left of the green, and again I would error on the cautious side and take a solid 4 here and move on. As you can tell I haven’t bothered giving any information on the greens. The greens are all relatively flat and very slow. There are some exceptions, but for the most part your approach shots will not travel far from their pitch marks.

#8 170 yard downhill par 3 – typically this hole plays approx 10-15 yards downhill and requires a solid shot to be aimed at the middle of the green. Historically the pin will be back-middle left which sets up well for a shot aimed at the middle of the green. A poor miss left can lead to a ball OB and mistake that should be avoided. Again, take a 3 here and move to the ninth tee.

#9 309 uphill par 4- You don’t need a driver here- hit your straight club here as a shot left or right will cause problems. I usually hit a 3 wood and have some sort of a sand wedge left. This hole will play 10 yards uphill and most players come up well short here. The pin is typically back left and you will want to attack this pin for a good chance at a 3 to finish off the front nine. If you shoot 3 or 4 over on the front, don’t despair, there will be plenty of opportunities on the back nine to make up some shots.

#10 268 uphill par 4 – here you have an excellent chance to get a shot back, but don’t just wail on a shot, a miss left can lead to disaster and is NOT the place to miss a shot. There is a lot of room right, and actually gives a player a decent angle to a pin that is usually on the left side of the green. If you don’t have the length to reach this green, lay back at the bottom of the hill leaving an easier shot than from the steep sloping hill. Making a 4 here is okay, don’t get inpatient leading to the next tee shot.

#11 265 dogleg left downhill par 4 – I see more bogey 5’s than I see birdie 3’s on this hole. The most common mistake I see will be players being overly aggressive with a big club and not hooking the ball enough. This will lead to trouble and is completely unnecessary. You want to hit a shot about 200 yards leaving a more full second shot to a back left pin. The closer you get to this green, the tougher the shot and lie normally is..remember this is a qualifier, and making a 5 on a 265 yd par 4 is not a good momentum builder.

#12 203 uphill par 3 – this dandy hole will always play tough with the uphill against the wind solid strike that is required here. The pin is ALWAYS back middle, and a shot that’s short will be a very tough par. I usually play the hole at least at 220 if not 230 and usually hit a 19 degree rescue club that is usually enough stick to get the ball to the back tier of the green. This green does have some slope and side slope and tends to break more than what you’ll see. If you have either a left to right or right to left putt, I suggest playing a little more break on your putt. Make a 3 here and enjoy the walk up the hill to the 13th tee.

#13 500 yard downhill par 5 – mentally I play this hole as a par 4 and actually play the course as a par 65 (playing #2 and #10 as long par 3). This hole requires a solid drive down the left center of the fairway. With the damp fairways don’t expect to get down the hill, but you should still only have approx 200 yards to this generous target. Most players come up significantly short here, so make sure you take enough club, and don’t subtract for the downhill…it will play the yardage. Making a solid 4 here will set you up well for the holes to come!

#14 259 dogleg left uphill par 4 – forget about trying to drive this hole, doing so would be foolish. You want to hit a club that you can move right to left, don’t miss long right here. A shot typically over hooked is always better than a miss to the right. You most likely will be left with a sloping hanging hook lie with about 50-80 yards to a back pin. I stopped trying to hit my 60 degree sand wedge a long time ago. I now use my 54 degree wedge which usually allows me to get my shot back to the pin. A shot left way short usually results in a bad bogey. Play smart here and make no worse than a 4.

#15 282 uphill par 4 – most likely you’ll be hitting into a head wind, with the landing area resembling quick sand (be careful). This would be a good time to send your caddie ahead to 4 caddie, as balls can disappear quite easily on this hole. Be careful hitting driver as a ball left or right can find the trouble quick. Why take the risk when this really isn’t a drivable par 4 hit a 3 medal and give yourself a shot at a 3. The pin historically will be positioned in the back of the green.

#16 239 downhill par 3 – this starts one of the best stretches of golf anywhere- if you can finish par,par, par on these three holes, you’ve hit many quality shots. Playing these holes 1 over would be great!! this is some what of a blind tee shot that requires you to aim at something in the distance. It’s amazing how many guys will miss this green right, leaving a very difficult up and in. This is NOT a draw hole off the tee, but a slight faded shot fits best. The downhill shot still requires at least a 225 club which should be fired at the middle of the green. The pin is almost always on the back right flat spot, which makes a right miss even more challenging. Take a 3 here and be thrilled, a four will be the average score on this tough hole.

#17 slightly downhill 240 yard par 3 – this hole actually plays the distance despite appearing to be downhill. But be aware of taking a club that would get you to the back of this green, as that club also brings OB into play both left and right. If you feel you need a par/par finish to qualify then take the bigger club, but if you are in a comfortable position, don’t risk making a 6 here. I have seen just about everything imaginable happen on this hole- { a player hit a practice shot into the ocean and got a two shot penalty, I saw a guy hook a ball and have a jogger kick it back in bounds, I saw a guy hit two consecutive shots that stayed up in the tree on the right, I saw a guy fan a drive right that hit a car and bounced back in play, I saw a guy hit a shot short of the green and have the ball plug so bad that we never found it} take a 4 here and just remember that you probably still played the hole average.

#18 straight away 383 par 4 – this is a great finishing hole, and I always hit driver here. usually a right center drive will roll back left to the middle of the fairway. A 120-140 shot is usually what’s left to this blind green, that usually has a back left pin. This is a generous green and a shot to the middle is all that’s needed. Make a solid 4 here to finish your round. FINAL COMMENTS- I find playing this course in my mind before I tee off to be quite helpful. I enjoy my 1 round a year at Lincoln, and I take the opportunity to look at the spectacular vistas throughout the round. The course plays tough for everyone, everyone will most likely 3 putt and draw a few bad lies…so just enjoy the scenery and take advantage of your opportunities that you WILL have on this fun short course- GOOD LUCK!!

Playing Resume

Hometown: San Francisco; Home Club: Olympic Club

Born: 1-9-59; College: San Diego State (1981); Profession: President/CEO of webaccomodate.com

Career Accomplishments: In 2009, won the Monterey City and NCGA Master Division and qualified for the British Senior Open…Was runner-up in the San Francisco City in 2008 and captured the amateurgolf.com Wine Country Cup at Stonetree … In 2007, claimed both the Silicone Valley Championship at Coyote Creek and Wine Country Cup at Stonetree GC … Tied for runner-up place at the California Mid-Am at Stevinson Ranch … Partnered with Jamie Looper to place second at the Roddy Ranch Four-Ball Championship … Tied for second-place at the Santa Clara County Championship at San Jose CC … Won the 2004 Wine Country Cup at StoneTree GC and the Monterey Bay Championship at Bayonet/Black Horse GCs… Advanced to the semifinals of the 2003 NCGA Amateur, the eighth time in the last 11 years he has at least made it that far … Came out of a personal slump with a victory at the 2002 Master Division Championship at Winchester CC … Won the 2000 and 2002 Crump Cup at Pine Valley GC … Was runner-up to James Hay in the final of the 2000 NCGA Amateur … Competed on the NCGA team in the 2000 Seaver Cup (where he handily defeated 2000 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Greg Puga of the SCGA team) and NCGA/NCPGA Cup Matches … Won the 2000 NCGA Four-Ball Championship (for the third time) with partner Darryl Donovan, tying the all-time scoring record with a 13-under-par 203 … Has played in eight of the last nine U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships (the lone exception being 1996), advancing to match play in an all eight events, advancing to the quarterfinals an unprecedented five times and the round of 16 twice (including 2000) … During the ’90s, won the third-most USGA matches of all current amateurs in the country, which included 19 matches at the U.S. Mid-Am and three at the U.S. Amateur … Won the Bay Regional a record fifth time in 2000, breaking the 68-year-old scoring record with a 276 … Won NCGA Player of the Year honors in 1999 for a record-tying third time … Accumulated the second-highest point total in NCGA history in winning the award … Won the 1999 San Francisco City Championship, beating longtime rival Gary Vanier in the final match … Won the 1999 NCGA San Joaquin Valley Championship at Stevinson Ranch GC by three shots … Won the 1999 NCGA Master Division Championship in his first try … Also during the ’99 season, captured the Sonoma County and Marin County and was runner-up at the Contra Costa Amateur, Vacaville City and Monterey County … Has played 29 USGA matches in the ’90s … Is the all-time NCGA point leader with more than 10,000 career points … Has won 11 NCGA championships … Won the NCGA Amateur two years in a row (1992 and 1993) and was runner-up in 1995 … Runner-up at the CGA (State) Amateur in 1988 and advanced to the semifinals in 1996 … Won the Stocker Cup for the second time in 1997, also winning in 1993 … Was medalist at the U.S. Amateur in 1996 … Competed in the Pacific Coast Amateur 14 straight years, finishing second in 1995, 3rd in 1994 and in the top ten a total of five times … Has won 25 other Northern California tournaments in his lifetime … Also owns 19 club championships, including Blackhawk CC, Boundary Oaks GC and the Olympic Club title in 1997 … Owns the course records at the Blackhawk CC Lake and Falls courses with 65s, as well as the competitive record at Lake Tahoe GC, a 65 … Shot a course-record 67 at Edgewood Tahoe GC … Has participated in 13 straight NCGA/NCPGA Cup Matches … Also played on seven North/South teams and three winning Pacific Coast Amateur Morse Cup teams.