I never imagined I’d have this much fun in Malta, Montana. From the moment I arrived, Malta and Marian Hills Golf Course were a treat.
As I rolled into town, I called the Montana State Golf Association President Roger Amundson whom I’d be playing golf with and staying while in Malta.
“Why don’t you come up to the clubhouse and have a drink with us?” Rodger asked.
That was only the beginning. Immediately as I walked in the door to the Tin Cup Bar and Restaurant at Marian Hills and bellied up to the bar, I felt at home.
That home feel continued as Roger and I made our way downtown to swap stories at the Lucky Bullet Bar and even into the next morning when we went for breakfast in a homey little café in the Great Northern.
The group Roger organized was himself, Cory Shelhamer the course superintendent, and Gary Howell. Howell himself has played more rounds at Marian Hills than anyone, in one year he played 635 nine-hole rounds at the course. Cory swears that Gary is one of the few people to actually wear down golf cart tires completely bald.
A morning round at Marian Hills does not get any better than yesterday’s. Roger, who felt guilty that I was walking every golf course, also decided to hoof it around the two-loop course high on the hills above Malta.
As the four of us walked and talked our way around Marian Hills I was continually surprised at how great the greens were. I kept mentioning this to Cory while we played, and he would reluctantly accept my praise.
“Just wait until I get my seasonal help next week,” Cory remarked. “Then I’ll be really able to get these things rolling.”
I had to shake my head and laugh. They were plenty fast for me as my knees instinctively shook whenever I looked at a downhill par putt.
The first tee at Marian Hills sits atop a hill just under the eye of the clubhouse. A trio of bunkers lays to the right directly on the line to the first green. You might think “Oh I can get over those” when you first a get over the ball, but a quick glance to the right shows you out of bounds stakes. A glance to the left reveals out of bounds stakes and all of the sudden your confidence is shaken a little more.
If you do find yourself on the green with a birdie putt at Marian Hills, you might nearly half an acre away from the pin on the gigantic dew covered greens, staring a three putt dead in the eye.
The allure of Marian Hills is that no hole is the same. Whether you’re standing on the second tee box hitting right into the teeth of the wind on a long par 5 or teeing it up on the par 3 seventh debating on whether to hit a long iron with all your might or swallow your pride and pull the wood out of your golf bag, Marian Hills will test your game. It sure tested mine.
After our round wrapped up on the uphill ninth hole we all shook hands and again I had to compliment the Cory, Roger, and Gary on a great golf course and their tremendous hospitality. That hospitality didn’t end after the round because the owner of the Marian Hills, Jane Ereaux, had already bought us lunch before I had to head on down the road.
As I drove out of town I had to think, my time in Malta and at Marian Hills was something I won’t soon forget.