Monroe is a fantastic golf course. It is my second favorite course in the Rochester area behind the West Course at Oak Hill. It is laid out over ideal terrain and soil. This means the golfer faces a course that is firm and fast and filled with uneven lies. The course has improved dramatically over the past year under the supervision of Gil Hanse. The new bunker scheme on 1 has moved the hole from a terrible, misfit starting hole to a very solid, strategy opener. 4-9 are all unique and tremendous in their own way. 15-18 is a great finishing stretch. The greens at 17 and 18 are two of the most unique and fun complexes I have seen anywhere. My qualms with the course are as follows:
The par fives, except for the classic 9th, are very weak. 3, 12, and 14 are all quite short, but they also lack any real defense. 12 is a terrible golf hole. The non-Ross green is long and right of the original greensite. The new hole is very awkward, using trees as a primary defense on the second shot. The green itself is an ugly monstrosity that has no place on a classic links. 3 and 14 are fine holes, but they have no strategic options other than to blast two shots straight at the green. Both seem to be filler holes: 3 is followed by the fantastic 4th (the best hole on the course IMO), and 14 is sandwiched in between a beautiful sidehill par three and a dramatic mid-length par four.
The first three holes on each nine are substantially weaker than the rest of the course. 1 is a good hole tee to green but still has an non-Ross greensite. 2 has a great tilted green but has no real strategic merit. 3 has another solid green but nothing much else. 10 is ridiculously wide off the tee, and the modified cape approach doesn't make up for this freeway width. 11 is a strange hole, with trees providing the real challenge off the tee. The green is interesting but it is also not an original Ross. 12 is horrid.
As mediocre as the bad holes are, the good holes are Ross at his best, routed over some dramatic landforms. This creates exciting blind shots and wild greens.