The team of Fry, Hurdzan and Whitten have gently laid 18 holes into 652 acres of heaving crests and troughs created by ancient glaciers.
Picture Erin Hills, host of the 2017 U.S. Open, as the love child between Shinnecock Hills, Sand Hills and Prairie Dunes: rough and smooth, sophisticated and rustic. Like many of my favorite holes, the 359-yard 2nd strays from the “it’s all right there in front of you” cliché.
From a tee box that bleeds into a spectacular wetland meadow, the assignment on No. 2 is an uphill, blind, drivable par-4 with, by far, the course’s smallest green rising elegantly to a pedestal from a natural basin. This corridor of fun has options galore, rewarding the player for successfully challenging physical and mental hazards, like driving it confidently over a fescue-covered slope and punching a fully committed pitch to a tight target with falloff on all sides.
A shorter hitter should rotate his turret right of the aiming tree in the long grass, encouraged by the inviting flash of fairway in view, set off by the scraggly bunkers capping the mound above. The longest of bombs carrying the left side of those scabs will bound down a hill with the momentum to fight its way up the pronounced slope to the green.
Only after taking the walk up and around the natural curves is the array of bump or loft wedge options revealed, along with the hole’s full character.