The First At Washtenaw Golf Club
The opening hole at Washtenaw Golf Club offers a challenging start to a round.
Coming in at just 349 from the tips, Washtenaw’s first is not long. What makes the hole difficult is that it is uphill, very tight and a bit of a dogleg left.
The tee boxes are elevated, and on two tiers just below the clubhouse. The blue tees generally are on the small upper tier. The long lower tier has tees that officially are at 319 and 314 yards. An even more forward set of tees are in a flat area on closest part of the fairway.
After a short carry over rough, the fairway slopes downhill from left to right for the first hundred yards, then downhill right to left for the next hundred. All the while, the fairway rises toward the green.
I have heard it said that there isn’t a flat lie on the entire hole, but that isn’t true. This is a hole where a little knowledge goes a long way.
One solution to finding a favorable lie is to skirt the trees on the left, flying the ball to inside the 120 mark. That’s a big ask for most amateurs.
Lacking that sort of length and accuracy, another alternative is to aim for the fairway bunker on the right. There’s some useful flat ground leading to that bunker. Just don’t go too far. The bunker has a steep side facing the green.
Finally, there’s some flat ground in the depression just over the first knob (which runs left to right), and before the fairway rises again with its right to left slope. The difficulty there is that it’s still a long uphill shot to the green, and only the left side of the green is in play.
Drawing (or hooking, as is my wont) a shot to the left side of the fairway can add another shot to the scorecard. Not only will the ball be on a slope, a direct line to the green likely is blocked by tree branches.
Right is the place to be.
Severe slicers can end up on the driving range to the right of the hole. A smaller slice may result in a second shot complicated by deep rough, an angled lie and blocking trees.
Washtenaw’s first green is elevated, with a back tier, and a front that will catch a short shot and send it right back to the fairway. The left side is guarded by a bunker. Right and rear, steep drops and rough punish a wayward shot.
For me, the first often sets the tone for the entire round. If I can get to the flat plateau in front of the right fairway bunker, I know I’ve got a chance at birdie. A tee shot that draws (or hooks) to the left, however often results in a poor second shot.
What I like most about this opening hole is that it requires accuracy than length. Rarely is my opening shot my longest. I’m just not loosened up enough at that point. Even a pop-up to the center-right gives me a chance.
On a historical note, the first was actually the tenth in the original routing.
Pro tip. When playing the first, take a look at the third green to see where the flag is located. The approach shot on the third is often blind. Also, look to the left and check the flag location on the seventeenth.