Faldo in Big Sky Country

Article by: Billy Satterfield

If you find yourself in Montana and wanting to tee it up you may be thinking, "What could be better than playing Old Works?" The famed layout designed by 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus and known for its black sand has been Montana's most revered public golf course since opening in 1997. Well, according to every major golf publication (and the author) there is a new #1 public track in the Treasure State and it is worth the effort to get there.

Located just a few miles from the Canadian border, the appropriately named Wilderness Club was designed by 6-time major champion Nick Faldo and represents one of the most dramatic designs you can enjoy. The routing is highlighted with numerous elevation changes, fescue that frames the fairways, and beautifully conditioned bluegrass fairways and bentgrass greens.

4th Hole at The Wilderness Club (403 Yard Par 4)
4th Hole at The Wilderness Club (403 Yard Par 4)

The finishing hole on the front and opening hole on the back represent the finest back-to-back pairing on the property. The par four 9th hole plays just over 500 yards from the tips and is a bit unsuspecting off the tee. After bombing your drive into play, the player is faced with a fairway that banks hard to the right and drops at least 50 feet down to a green protected by bunkers on the right.

9th Hole at The Wilderness Club (503 Yard Par 4)
9th Hole at The Wilderness Club (503 Yard Par 4)

The 10th hole is a player's delight as a classic risk/reward opportunity is presented to players. Just 320 yards from the furthest back tee, a large tree sits in the right third of the fairway and must be navigated around whether you layup or go for the green. Players looking to earn an eagle putt will have to thread their tee ball between the bunkers near the green on the right and the water on the left. This is a great opportunity to start your back nine under par.

10th Hole at The Wilderness Club (320 Yard Par 4)
10th Hole at The Wilderness Club (320 Yard Par 4)

The signature holes at the property are the par fives on the back nine. The 557 yard 12th hole is a double dogleg that cascades well downhill to a green that is surrounded by bunkers and jets out to the water on the left. With trees framing the hole and mountains looming in the background, it is one of the most picturesque holes in the West.

12th Hole at The Wilderness Club (557 Yard Par 5)
12th Hole at The Wilderness Club (557 Yard Par 5)

The finishing hole measures just under 600 yards and requires a forced carry over the fescue before finding the fairway. Midway through the hole the fairway turns to the left and hugs the pond that drives fear into players fighting a hook. The green sits below tee level with the water playing a factor all the way to the finish.

18th Hole at The Wilderness Club (593 Yard Par 5)
18th Hole at The Wilderness Club (593 Yard Par 5)

With its remote location, The Wilderness Club wisely decided to build cottages that can be rented as part of your visit up north. These beautiful cottages that hold up to eight people and are inspired by great clubs like Augusta National and Prairie Dunes, offer the perfect setup for getting your buddies together and planning an extended stay with 36 holes a day.

Green fees at The Wilderness Club range from $70 - $124 and the cottages cost $180 - $200/night (Lodge costs $20 less). With its impressive mountain surroundings, stunning accommodations, and exhilarating golf course, The Wilderness Club is quickly becoming an esteemed destination for Americans and Canadians alike.