NO. 1 COURSE: OLD WORKS
LOCATION: Anaconda, Mt.
DIRECTIONS FROM BUTTE: Take I-90 northeast to Hwy 1 and turn left (east). Continue on Hwy 1, which turns into Hwy 10A West. Course is on the right.
PHONE: 888-229-4833 (web site: www.oldworks.org)
OPENED: 1997 (Architect: Jack Nicklaus)
GREEN FEES: Opens in April. Monday-Thursday, range from $32 to $48 (depending the month); Saturday-Sunday, $45-$70
LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,705 yards (five tee positions)
LOWDOWN: Course designer Jack Nicklaus stayed true to the area’s mining roots, as even the name reflects the history of the ore mining operation from the late 1800s. Remnants of the Upper Works can be seen on the front nine.
The holes are mostly in valleys below rugged rock outcroppings and golden hills with water hazards, lakes, ponds and rivers, bordering many of the holes. The course has been named by Golf Digest as one of the top 10 course you play for under $75.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 4, par-3, 195 yards. There are many to pick from but this par-3 is distinctive for its grooved rock outcropping behind the hole. You have to clear a waste area about 130 yards out and place you drive accurately to avoid the hazards on all sides.
NO. 2 COURSE: CANYON RIVER
LOCATION: Missoula, Mt.
DIRECTIONS FROM DOWNTOWN MISSOULA: Take I-90 east to exit 107. Take Hwy 200 then a right on Speedway to Deer Creek Rd. Turn left into the course.
PHONE: 406-721-0222 (web site: canyonrivergolfcommunity.com)
OPENED: 2006 (Architect: Lee E. Schmidt)
GREEN FEES: Opens in the spring. Ranges from $18 to $43 depending the season.
LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,966 yards (five tee positions)
LOWDOWN: The course fits nicely into the Montana environment, cutting through forests and around lakes, riparian marshes and the Clarks Fork River. Water comes into play for seven holes.
There is also significant elevation changes, particularly on the back nine. It’s a wonderfully scenic course.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 14, par-3, 168 yards. There is a 50-foot drop from tee to green. Picking the right club is essential. The green is shaped by a pine forest in back and a waterfall on the right that works its way down to a series of ponds.
NO. 3 COURSE: BRIDGER CREEK
LOCATION: Bozeman, Mt.
DIRECTIONS FROM BIG SKY: North on Highway 191 about 38 miles, right on Huffine lane towards Bozeman. Take a left on N. 19th St., right on Oak St. then left onto Rouse Ave. Follow Rouse to Storymill Rd. then take a left on Storymill and left on McIlhattan Rd.
PHONE: 406-586-2333 (web site: bridgercreek.com)
OPENED: 1994 (Architect: Mark Hunter)
GREEN FEES: Monday-Friday, $31; Saturday-Sunday, $33
LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,511 yards (three tee positions)
LOWDOWN: It’s one of the 10 best courses you can play in the state, according to Golf Digest. It’s a wide open layout in a valley with mountain ranges in every direction. This is not to say there aren’t any trees in the way or water hazards. They are enough to keep you focused.
Located in the Gullatin Valley at the base of the Bridger Mountains, it’s only 10 minutes from downtown Bozeman. It has hosted two U.S. Amateur qualifiers.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 15, par-3, 201 yards. This is a hard one, not only because it’s a long par-3 but because there’s a pond blocking at least half the approach to the hole. Laying up to the left might be a wise choice. The green is ample but if the pin is back, good luck reaching it.
NO. 4 COURSE: VILLAGE GREENS
LOCATION: Kalispell, Wy.
DIRECTIONS FROM DOWNTOWN DOWNTOWN KALISPELL: Take Hwy 93 then a right on Hwy 2. Turn left at the third light, 7th Ave. E.N. That becomes Whitefish Stage Rd. Then a right on W. Evergreen Dr. Come down a hill and the course is on the left.
OPENED: 1992 (Architect: Bill Robinson)
GREEN FEES: Course doesn’t generally open for play until April. Range from $40 to $49.
LAYOUT: Par 70, 6,401 yards (three tee positions)
LOWDOWN: It’s one of the best layouts in the Flathead Valley, with true greens and well-manicured fairways. The mountain ranges around the course add to the enjoyment.
It’s a course that sets naturally within the environment with rolling hills, deep grass bunkers and lots of water.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 1, par-5, 586 yards. The course tests you from your first swing. You need to keep the ball from going right as there is a large water hazard down the right side. Too far and you’re in a bunker. Then it doglegs right with three more bunkers just off he fairway. There’s also a bunker to the left of the green and one in back.
NO. 5 COURSE: BIG MOUNTAIN
LOCATION: Kalispell, Mt.
DIRECTIONS FROM DOWNTOWN KALISPELL: Take Hwy 93 north out of town. Turn a left at Wild Pine Dr. Look for the course on theleft, two miles north of Kalispell.
PHONE: 406-751-1950 (web site: firstname.lastname@example.org)
OPENED: 1996 (Architect: Andy North/Roger Packard)
GREEN FEES: Opens in June. Rates range from $40 to $62 depending on the month.
LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,015 yards (five tee positions)
LOWDOWN: It’s a mix of styles here, some links, some meadows. The front nine follows the Stillwater River so bring extra balls.
Consistently listed by the major national magazines as among the top courses you can play in Montana.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 16, par-3, 193 yards. The green is surrounded by water, including a good portion along the right-side approach to the hole. It’s also a slight dogleg right so if you steer the ball that way don’t let it go too far. Miss it left.
– Bob Sherwin