Southwest Montana Golf
Reviews by Taylor Anderson
Big Sky Resort Golf Course
This 18-hole, 6800-yard course demonstrates superb planning of not only a course but also a resort town. What remind golfers that they aren’t in the wilderness are the roads that seem to follow throughout the course…and the neighborhoods.
Residences weave through the course with the Middle Fork of the Gallatin River. But, in a resort town, it’s a nice touch. The houses follow almost every hole, yet it feels natural in a town like Big Sky.
The course was designed around the river, and the brush that spots its banks give a nice alternative to having trees block the view of Lone Peak.
Every shot is at a mountainside, and the high elevation actually increases drive distance. But because of the alpine nature of the valley, what may be a sunny afternoon golfing can quickly turn into an inch of snow. The area saw snow in every month last year, so don’t be disappointed when black clouds come on through the valley. Chances are it’ll clear up by the end of the next hole. Like the ancient saying goes: If you don’t like the weather in Montana, go somewhere else.
The only hitch in the design of this course is hole 16. The short doglegged hole will deceive the best golfer into trying to cut the corner and go for the green. However, houses and a big tree create an awful big hazard area, and the narrow fairway to the right of the tree can create trouble for the inaccurate soul.
Watch for moose on the remaining holes. The thick brush next to the reappearance of the river flowing underneath the low tree branches makes for good wildlife habitat any day, so think about that when you’re searching for that $4 Titleist.
Bridger Creek Golf CourseJune 9, 2011
It’s a lake. It’s a fairway. It’s a fairway?
It’s almost confusing the way the course has been affected by the flooding of its namesake creek.
Record highs were set this spring when Bridger Creek swelled past its banks and drowned the floodplain course under feet of water. It just goes to show that a charming feature one year can easily be a back breaker the next.
The course had to close a number of fairways on the back nine because of the flooding. In some cases the holes were shortened, and pseudo par-3s were set up for the time the course was a lake. Putting on a fairway green shouldn’t satisfy any serious golfer, but as that is in one of the nicest parts of the course, the nuisance ponds allow for a nice admiration for what can happen.
Moving away from the uncontrollable, there is at least one hitch about this course that could have been prevented or fixed.
The course is on ranchland that rushes up the foothills of the Bridger Mountain Range. It’s a beautiful feature. But what are missing are tree hazards. The lack of trees will come as a drastic change to anyone who’s familiar with the densely forested courses in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and Minnesota. It’s easy to imagine every spot on this course with herds of cattle grazing on it because it’s just open grass on rolling hills.
Perhaps the wisest of intentions were used when designing Bridger Creek Golf Course because the view from the high point of the course gives reason to believe that the term “Big Sky State” was probably thought of by a poet in Bozeman. During a bluebird summer afternoon, think about this and stop to put yourself into place. Look over the city and notice the valley that stretches as far as the eye can see until it reaches a sister valley of the same makeup heading in a different direction. Taking in the beauty of the views while playing this course will take the edge off before a drive.
Like so many other courses in Southwestern Montana, golfers get the momentary glory of driving a ball into the mountainside. Take caution that this is only an illusion, and that the ball only appears to be going 500 yards.
The locals are often friendly to play with, so don’t hesitate to hop into an incomplete party and meet some golfing buddies here.