Rock Creek Cattle Company—Deer Lodge, MT
Rankings as of 6/17/11
-15th best Modern US Course (Golfweek)
I was drawn to golf in Montana for two reasons.
#1—Rock Creek is only ranked on Golfweek’s Top 100 list and is completely overlooked by the other major golfing
entities. Therefore, it makes my “Controversial Courses” list. And, as you may know, I have a keen interest in
checking these courses out to see who is right.
#2—Tom Doak is the architect of record at Rock Creek. Since Tom Doak is one of the best contemporary
designers in the world today, I need to experience his courses.
For these reasons, I ended up in Montana to tee it up. And, boy, what a good decision this ended up being.
For starters, the club is all-world. 80,000 acres of a working cattle ranch, golf course, fly fishing, atv riding, hiking
trails, sporting clays, great food, and luxurious accommodations. Who could ask for more?
To focus solely on the golf course, we need start with the land itself. Frankly, it is borderline in terms of whether it is
suitable for golf. It is in the mountains, the soil is full of rocks, and these rocks come in all shapes and sizes.
Having this to work with had to limit what was possible to put on the ground in terms of golf. However, I think Mr.
Doak did some Herculean work to make these limitations nothing more than a minor issue.
The routing of the course takes the golfer up and down the mountain ridges and hills, it takes the golfer down to the
raging water's streams, it highlights beautiful mountain vistas. Not only does this routing make for good golf, but it
also highlights stunning scenery.
As for the holes themselves, the par 4’s have huge variety. You have ultra-long and punishing ones and you have
short, pseudo-drivable ones.
And the par 5 10th is all-world.
But the par 3’s are truly world class. The back-to-back par 3’s (The Good and The Bad) are very well done. One is
a short, downhill beauty and the other is a long brute…and the way they fall back-to-back makes them unforgettable.
And speaking of unforgettable…check out the view from the 17th tee box.
Not only does this par 3 have a stunning view and a thrilling tee shot, but the green keeps the excitement and
interest high until the ball is in the hole.
Can you knit-pick Rock Creek? Yes. I’ve already mentioned a few “issues” and I could add in the weird visuals and
playability the bluegrass fairways bring to the table and the brilliant white sand bunkers look a bit odd in the
mountain setting. But given all this, the bottom line is that Rock Creek is a very solid golf course that brings
together stunning beauty and interesting golf. And, oh yeah, the non-golfing aspect of the club is truly something
special as well.