Hole 5 – Free Fall
Setup 1 – (~485 yards) – Back right pin
The yardage here is deceptive, as the near 100 foot drop from the tee to the fairway makes this hole play more like a medium length par 4 than a long par 4. The tee shot is very straightforward. Hit it straight, and forward, and don’t land in the bunkers. The fairway slopes from right to left, which could kick a ball that is trailing to the left forward into the bunker, and will also influence the approach shot.
The back right pin here is quite accessible, as a large slope on the right side of the green will send everything left. There is a bit of downslope just past the bunker that will propel balls forward and off the back of the green, so going directly at the pin is not advised. The back edge of the green near this pin trails off a bit, so distance control is key. A badly sliced shot that ends up right of the green, however, is the worst miss here. There is almost no way to stop the ball on the right half of the green when pitching over and down the right to left slope.
Shots that roll off of the back of the green will result in a difficult up and down, but the fescue fairways and greens will allow for putters to be used to get back on to the green. Players who participated in last year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst should be familiar with this shot.
Setup 2 – (~475 yards) – front right pin
This front right pin will also play a bit on the easier side, and should be a birdie chance. Anything straying to the left could kick into the bunker, resulting in a fairly difficult up and down, but missing long to the back of the green is the worst case scenario. Putts played from the back to the front of the green can easily run away and into any of the swales surrounding the front of the green. Players missing short, however, should have plenty of options to pitch, bump and run, or putt from around the green.
Setup 3 – (~460 yards) – back left pin
With the way that the tee boxes here are placed into the hillside at 5, there are plenty of options to move the tee around each day, and especially changing the angle from left to right. Even so, I don’t see the USGA moving the tee too far forward here, and the strategy on the tee shot remains the same regardless of the tee location. Just hit it straight.
If the USGA wanted to move the tee forward on one day, it might be best to do so with the back left pin. This just might tempt a player to aim down the left side and take the left bunker for a direct approach to the left side pin. With a left to right slope and a bit of a backboard behind the pin, however, shots from all angles can take advantage of the slopes to get near the flag for another birdie attempt.
Setup 4 – (~480 yards) – Middle pin
The most exciting option at the 5th hole will be the middle pin, just past the lone greenside bunker. From the fairway, it appears that there is not much to aim for here.
Getting close to the pin will indeed be tough, and the green slopes away from the player just past the bunker, where one would ideally want to land. The back half of the green does slope from back to front, though, so many approach shots here will settle near the back of the green. More cautious players can use the green slope on either side to curve the ball in and have a look at a long birdie putt.
The slope of the green will fool many players here, as the seemingly downhill putt from the back of the green to the hole will be deceptively slow. While the green does tilt from back to front, the players will be putting away from the Sound, where the entire property tends to break towards.