Highlight Hole: No. 14 at St. Mark

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Based on the relatively flat topography of the front nine – and actually of most of the course – you’d never guess a hole like this is waiting for you on the back. But this is what you see after you climb to the 14th tee box at St. Mark Golf Club at Lake San Marcos in San Marcos.

This driver’s delight – or potential nightmare, if you’re a short-hitter – plays to 369 yards from the blue tees and virtually the same from the whites.

This is risk-reward at its most basic. I haven’t put a GPS to it, but it seems to be about 240-250 yards to carry the water. Factoring in considerable carry from the elevated tee, it’s plenty do-able and I’m usually easily 40 to 50 yards over, and I’ve heard stories of people driving the green. Totally plausible.

The play if you don’t feel confident you make the carry, or keep the ball on the course (I can only imagine how many golf golf balls the yards around this fairway yield), is a hyrid/long iron to around 200 yards. That’ll leave you short of the water and sand – another common tee shot destination – and a mid-iron home.

My one lament about this hole is that I have yet to make birdie. No matter how well I place my approach, it always seems to run to the back of the green, or off. So you might want to factor that in as well.

I actually don’t mind the back nine at St Mark, which plays 300 yards longer than the front. On the back, the course stretches out with three par-5s, including a 600-yarder, and a 460-yard par-4. Then there’s 14, which will likely be for driving bragging rights amongst your group. Three words of advice: Go for it.

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