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I was reading the non-photo tour of Beverly thread, and was struck by the use of this term (which I'm presuming is a Ross quote) to describe Ross' approach to the first hole. It is certainly true at the Ross course I have played most often here in Chicago (Ravisloe).Are there many courses beloved on this site where the opener is more of a punch in the gut than a handshake? Is that ever a preference? It is generally not mine.
The first at Muirfield may be the hardest hole on the course, especially if the prevailing West wind is blowing.
Ross was not always gentle. The first at Franklin Hills is a long, difficult par-4, and so is the first at Oakland Hills, though I don't know how much Mr. Jones changed the latter. It's a rule of thumb, but sometimes you have to get to the next ridgeline, and it's more than 400 yards away.