Exploring golf under the Big Sky.
Montana is known for many things, but golf isn’t at the top of the list. We have hunting, fishing, hiking, and skiing—you know, the things that bring most folks to this part of the country. But just like all these other activities, golf in Montana is truly a unique experience. And here in southwest Montana, you get to play with some of the most stunning backdrops the state has to offer. Tee up with a herd of elk grazing in the distance, hit a chip over a tributary creek that feeds one of Montana’s legendary rivers, and putt in the shadow of our iconic mountain ranges. Plus, the balls apparently fly straighter and further in the high elevation here (though I can’t personally attest to that). There’s really nothing else like it. Here are a few nearby favorites that’ll get you right in the heart of Montana's grandeur for your next round.
Red Lodge Mountain
Yardage: 5,500 up to 7,000
Where technology meets old-fashioned Montana, the Red Lodge course is home to the only Toptracer (a shot-analytics technology) driving range in the state. But we’re not here just to hit balls on the range. We are here to play golf, and this is one of the best places to do it.
You’ll start with the Beartooth Mountains, Crazy Mountains, Absaroka Mountains, and Red Lodge Mountain ski area all within view—not too shabby. Every day on this course is a little different, with constantly changing water levels in its lakes and creeks. Make sure to keep an eye out for elk and deer crossing the fairway in front of you, too. There are long, Scottish-style holes, difficult hazard-ridden and well-bunkered holes, and even an “island green” on 15. Afterward, stop by the patio to soak up the views over some fresh Montana fare and specialty cocktails at 28 Peaks Kitchen. redlodgemountain.com.
This golf course gives you the full, Madison Valley tour all within its mighty 9 holes. Located in Ennis, Madison Meadows is a great option to tack onto your fishing trip to the area. You’ll likely be playing in the company of some lackadaisical pronghorn bedding down in the nearby grass.
The course meanders in and around the foothills of the Tobacco Roots. You’ll start in the grassier lowland, then make your way into the rolling hills. Its creative layout provides a proper challenge to test the will of any golfer, and will surely leave you wanting another go at it before the turn. This is small-town Montana golf at its finest. It’s quiet, quaint, and packs a punch. madisonmeadowsgolfcourse.com.
Fairmont Hot Springs Resort
If you’re searching for an all-inclusive Montana golf experience, look no further. Whether you just stopped by for a round or have been hanging out all week, you’ll be tempted to stay longer. The grounds include the famous hot-springs pools, of course, and plenty of other nearby outdoor recreation abounds.
The course itself is located just north of the Continental Divide Trail, which means it’s quite high in elevation—over 5,000 feet, to be exact. Coupled with that, the length of the course adds to its feeling of magnitude. In fact, Fairmont’s 5th hole, called the “mile high, mile-long” hole, is recognized as one of the most challenging among all Montana's golf courses. Five ponds cover the course, including one across the center of the last fairway, forcing one to lay up short. Then, follow up with a lengthy approach over a dramatic fountain in the middle of the pond. It all comes together to create one of the coolest Montana golf outings. There are a few different restaurants and dining options to choose from back at the resort. fairmontmontana.com.
Once you start digging, you might be surprised how many courses are sprinkled around Montana. The golf scene around here is actually quite robust. Aside from the above three, there are a few other spots worth mentioning that are in or around Bozeman. Bridger Creek is one of the best “bangs for your buck” around. The course is tucked away at the base of the Bridgers, giving you a unique perspective of town. In Four Corners, Cottonwood Hills has 27 holes, including a 9-hole par-3 course with a 150-yard average—perfect for beginners and intermediates, or even advanced players wanting to improve their short game. Finally, just over the pass is the Livingston Golf & Country Club. Get out of town and play a round along the Yellowstone River at this southwest Montana gem.
There you have it. Golf in the Treasure State—there’s really nothing else like it. Next time you head off for a trip beyond the confines of the Bozone, consider bringing your bag along. Whether you’re on the local muni or a well-groomed club, you won’t be disappointed. Just be sure to stop and look around to take in the views. They’ll make your round worth every penny.