The water protecting the green makes for a daunting second shot on the par 4 2nd hole.
The Club at Ruby Hill celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and the Jack Nicklaus designed layout is one of the premier golf courses in the Livermore winery area — just east of San Francisco.
Ruby Hills is located on 225 acres and is the longest course in the immediate area — topping out at 7,400 yards with a hefty 75.8 course rating and 137 slope.
The challenges one faces come early in the round with the demanding par-4 2nd.
Players stand on the tee and encounter a dog-leg left around a series of four fairway bunkers on the inside corner which must be avoided at all costs.
The preferred ball flight is right-to-left but the deeper the desire to go down the fairway the more the landing area pinches in from both sides. Players can opt to layback but in doing so increase the length of the approach. Complicating matters is a green protected by a water penalty area that is certainly in play and can quickly snare the hapless play.
“Standing on the 2nd tee box I like to hit the tee shot at the big oak tree that sits above the lake with a little draw, “ said Nigel Rouse, head gold professional. “From the fairway hitting to the shallow green I make sure my distance is exact and my club selection will carry me to the middle of the green. I never shoot at any flag position on the far-right side as the water comes into play.”
The general prevailing wind pattern is downwind to crosswind and the square footage of the green is 5,500. Recently added at the 2nd has been sand into the bunkers and a leveling of the Nicklaus tee box. The green also provides for a myriad of vexing movements
Although there are no greenside bunkers — players missing the left face a harrowing prospect as water awaits any shot hit too strong. There is also the possibility players can use an opening on the left side of the green for any shot that needs to run onto the green. Accessing a flagstick position placed on the right side of the putting surface mandates a first-rate approach over the guarding pond.
The 2nd at Ruby Hill is a stout test that comes early in the round. Credit the Nicklaus design in mandating a healthy understanding of one’s game and the need to execute soundly when called upon. Success or failure is certainly front and centre when you step onto the tee.
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Photos and schematic rendering courtesy The Club at Ruby Hill.