(Editor’s note: Throughout the past two summers, MontanaSports.com visited golf courses to feature ‘signature holes’ or holes that tie in to what makes the courses unique. To view more courses highlighted in our Signature Series, please click here. Pine Ridge Golf Course in Roundup is much more difficult than it first appears and rewards shot-makers.)
ROUNDUP -- There’s a little more to Pine Ridge Golf Course than meets the eye.
At first glance, players may think it’s an opportunity to go low, but Pine Ridge will reward shot-makers and punish errant approach shots into its small, elevated greens.
“Wayward iron shots are the culprit for the most big scores here, because off the green you’re going to find thick grass, almost bunker-like grass. It’s hard to hit a delicate shot when it’s really delicate grass," Roundup head golf coach Ed Rutan said. "Or you’re going to be in hardpan, and hardpan will also ruin a scorecard pretty well. Shot-makers, the ones that can work the ball a little left-to-right or right-to-left definitely have an advantage, because there’s just enough trees to keep you having to bend a shot.”
The Par-3 5th is one of the most difficult holes on the course with its length and elevated green, but there’s also a ditch to the right, out of bounds left and a tree in front of the tee boxes, which can lead to a big number on the scorecard.
“This, to me, is the most difficult hole, because it’s 235 yards, par 3, it’s not a huge green and it’s elevated, so you don’t generally get a lot of roll. If you hit just short, it usually stays just short. There’s a lot of 5s and 6s on this hole, a lot of them, so this can make or break your round right here," Rutan said. "This is, like I said, the toughest hole, and I’ve witnessed two hole-in-ones from back here.”
The Par-4 9th at Pine Ridge is emblematic of the course’s characteristics. An ideal tee shot turns from right to left, but a ditch lines the left side and splits the fairway. Even if you’re in the fairway, a precise approach shot is needed for a look at birdie.
“A lot of times the second shot can be 200 yards. Even if you hit a good tee shot there, a lot of times your second shot is 150-160 yards," said Rutan. "I don’t know how comfortable most amateurs are hitting, again, a relatively small green, a little bit elevated, from 160 yards. It separates good players from bad.”