|The approach shot|
The 2nd at Highlands Links is named Tam O’Shanter because Stanley Thompson thought the green looked like a Scotsman’s hat. The green at the second hole is my all time favourite Thompson green and is another example of why great greens don’t need bunkers.
The green can be divided into three sections. The front contains a series of wonderful lower pin positions that are all set in a swale that is the entire width of the green. The swale falls strongly from left to right which means that you must stay right of the pin to make a putt. The left corner is particularly difficult to access since there is a subtle roll in front of the green making the approach extra tough since a short approach will not make the green.
The lower areas are separated from the upper areas by a rise that runs the entire width of the green. The ridge is varied in height and intensity. The lowest point is in the middle where the next great set of pins is found in the valley beyond the rise. The most aggressive slopes is on the right side which helps to offer a backstop for the front right pin or a nasty obstacle to carry to reach the occasional pin placed on the tiny plateau behind.
|The contours are far more noticeable up close|
The rise is particularly trying when a player needs to go from the front right to the middle valley since it must head up onto the upper right plateau before diving down and left into the valley beyond. This is a very tough putt to judge since the back bowl is fairly steep. The large rise on the left of the green separates the front valley from upper valley. It can be used to feed the ball, but missing left will leave a near impossible recovery since the slopes are all running away from the player.
The most joyous and most common pin position is in the back valley. The valley makes a beautiful and attractive bowl that encourages the player to play directly for it.. It’s tough to get a ball back there because of the small rise just in front. But since both side slopes will feed the ball back into the valley, it tempts you to try and thread the needle since it looks like such an inviting birdie opportunity. The problem that is not initially apparent on the approach is the steepness of the valley. It’s easy to putt up to, but long is completely dead since the slope runs away hard and the ball tends to go over the drop in the middle of the green and take off left into the front right corner. The next putt can often involve dealing with the front right rise and all the complications you wanted to avoid the first time.