I was never a fan of Ross courses early in my golf life, but grew to appreciate the nuances he built into them and the different skills needed to be successful on them. Pinehurst #2 is one of the very best examples of all his design prowess being utilized on one course. The restoration by Coore & Crenshaw brought back the design elements that necessitate strategy from tee to green again and, of course, the greens are still among the toughest in the U.S.
The shame of #2 is that people expect something from U.S. Open courses - be it views, tighter fairways, more water - than it presents. Instead, #2 simply presents great golf. Either you beat the course, or it beats you. As a result - and because of the fact that understanding #2 takes more than one round - too many golfers never fully appreciate it.
One example is the long 2nd hole. While it is a slight dogleg right that most players want to attempt to cut the corner on to achieve a shorter approach, the proper shot off the tee is to the left corner of the fairway. While this leaves a longer second shot, it also provides the golfer with a much easier approach and multiple options to reaching the green. Strategy like that is everywhere, but not always obvious from the tee (which makes springing for the extra $ for a caddie well worth it.)
The 5th and 6th holes are incredibly difficult (esp. when the 5th is played as a par 4 as originally designed) and the 9th is deceptively difficult for a short part 3. All the par 3s are excellent.
While there are "breather" holes in terms of length on this course, you can never let your mind wander or you will pay the price. Every shot needs to be well thought out as to where you want to land it for best approach to green, where to hit it on the green and then, of course, the putt! And if you miss the green, creativity plays a big part in your day due to the variety of shots one can use to try and reach the putting surface from the sandy areas and grassy collection areas.
Overall, one of the very best courses there is for a complete and true test of golf. Everyone should try it at least once.
Date: January 07, 2019