Summer Guide: Land of Links

By Beacon Staff

With nine championship courses within a 45-minute drive, it’s no surprise the Flathead Valley is fast becoming Montana’s premier golf destination. Affordable, links-style layouts contrast with sprawling fairways to offer vacationers and locals a variety of places to tee off. Stunning views of Glacier National Park and the Swan and Mission Mountain ranges add a relaxing feel to the Flathead Valley golf experience.

Big Mountain Golf Club
Kalispell, (406) 751-1950
Stats: 18 holes; 6,180 yards from the white tee
This unique course, created by two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North in 1996, mimics the links of Scotland. Its tight fairways, lined with native grasses along the Stillwater River, offer a quiet and peaceful walk as you improve your golf game. In 2004, Golf Magazine rated Big Mountain 12th on its list of the 50 best U.S. golf courses under $50.

Buffalo Hill Golf Club
Kalispell, (406) 756-4530
Stats: 27 holes; 6,284 yards from the white tee on the Championship 18
With holes around and over the Stillwater River, this course provides sweeping panoramic views and several elevation changes. The club is only minutes from downtown Kalispell and offers practice facilities and a full-service clubhouse. Five ponds on six of the holes, doglegs and sand traps give golfers a challenge on every round. Golf Digest ranked Buffalo Hill’s Championship course the third best state course for 1997-1998.

Cabinet View Golf Course
Libby, (406) 293-7332
Stats: 18 holes; 6,368 yards from the white tee
Travel just an hour and a half west of Kalispell, and you will find Cabinet View perched atop a hill above the town of Libby. Wildlife and beautiful views of the Cabinet Mountains make this par 72 course, built in the late 1950s by volunteers and local businesses, a popular out-of-town choice. Five ponds and numerous bunkers add to the challenge.

Eagle Bend Golf Club
Bigfork, (406) 837-7310
Stats: 27 holes; 6,297 from the white tees
Eagle Bend is located on the north shore of Flathead Lake, surrounded by gorgeous views of the Swan Mountains and Glacier National Park. Its sculpted fairways have been host to Governors Cup Tournament, and in 1995 Jack Nicklaus, Jr. designed and built the “Nicklaus Nine.” Golf Digest and Golf Week have rated Eagle Bend the No. 1 golf course in the state several times. Tee times at this course are often tough to come by, so be sure to call ahead.

Frontier Golf Course
Kalispell, (406) 755-0111
Stats: 9 holes; over 1,393 yards
Don’t have time for a full 18-round of golf? This par 30 course is perfect for a quick game after work, or a stop on the way to one of the Flathead’s many other outdoor attractions. Frontier’s gently undulating greens and easy course make it a great place for beginners. The Frontier Roadhouse Restaurant is a perfect place to unwind with a cocktail and chow down on some barbecue after your game.

Glacier View Golf Course
West Glacier, (406) 888-5471
Stats: 18 holes; 5,161 yards from the white tee
Located on the southern edge of Glacier National Park, this course gives players of all levels stunning views of the park’s jagged, snow-capped peaks. The short course layout and wide fairways make a round at Glacier View a family-friendly and relaxing outing. The course is great for hosting group events and small tournaments.

Meadow Lake Golf Course
Columbia Falls, (406) 892-2111
Stats: 18 holes; 6,416 from the white tee
Rated by Golf Digest as one of the best six courses to play in Montana, Meadow Lake offers 330 acres along the Rocky Mountains. Onsite lodging gives you immediate access to this challenging Par 72 course.

Mission Mountain Golf Course
Ronan, (406) 676-4653
Stats: 18 holes; 6,301 from the white tee
Set against the magnificent Mission Mountain range, your golf game is sure to improve with this medium-length layout. The course is just a short 14-mile drive south of Flathead Lake.

Polson Bay Golf Club
Polson, (406) 883-8230
Stats: 27 holes; 6,271 from the white tees on the Championship 18
This lakeside course is a Flathead Valley favorite. Rolling terrain gives way to mountain and lake views while players sharpen their game on this reasonably priced course.

Village Greens Golf Club
Kalispell, (406) 752-4666
Stats: 18 holes; 5,907 from the white tees
Great for players of all levels, this popular local course offers fairway mounding, white sand and sparkling lakes. Seniors 50 years and up will enjoy the senior day special on Tuesdays and Thursdays, where green fees (two 18 holes), range balls, a golf cart and lunch for two will only set them back $75.

Whitefish Lake Golf Club
Kalispell, (406) 862-4000
Stats: 36 holes; North Course 18 – 6,138 yards from white tees; South Course 18 – 6,141 yards from white tees
Adjacent to Whitefish Lake, this large complex houses two courses with manicured, birch and pine-tree lined fairways. Whitefish Lake Golf Club is Montana’s first and only 36-hole course. Golf Digest placed both the North and South courses in the top five for the State of Montana in 1996. PGA professionals, a renovated driving range and two practice putting greens offer beginners a great atmosphere for lessons. Kids between the ages of 5 and 17 years receive free golf lessons during the summer. Be sure to check out the Fourth of July tournament.

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