In the seemingly endless landscape of eastern Montana’s rolling hills sits an oasis of sorts. Bordering the badlands of Makoshika State Park sits Glendive, Montana, the home of Cottonwood Country Club.
The cottonwoods for which Glendive’s nine-hole golf course is named tower over the valley floor and present consistent challenges to any golfer who looking to take aim at the tiny greens at Cottonwood Country Club. The wide trunked ancient trees hang their long limbs over the fairways blocking out shots golfers would routinely play.
My tour guides for today’s afternoon round in the sweltering and humid heat of Eastern Montana were my friend Gavin McPherson, his father Scott McPherson, and Jay Morasko. Scott was the manager at Cottonwood for a good many years and both he and Gavin have been crowned the club champion.
Cottonwood presents a number of gorgeous holes that weave their way among the cottonwoods to small undulating greens that can leave you perplexed. The first hole of Cottonwood Country Club is a par 4 playing 380-yards down from the elevated tee sitting underneath the eye of the clubhouse. The opening hole doglegs a hair to the left and fits the eye of the draw-ball hitter leaving just a short wedge from the fairway to a crowned green.
All the greens at Cottonwood seem to have some crown to them presenting a difficult challenge to hold with the simplest of chips or even full shots. You can’t take much for granted while playing a short shot at CCC.
The dogleg right third hole at Cottonwood plays as a par 5 on the front measuring 497-yards while playing as a par 4 measuring in at 400 yards on the back nine. Playing the hole from the blue tees and as a par 4, the third demands a cutting tee shot to move right-to-left because of the out of bounds on the left-hand side of the hole and the wall of cottonwoods on the right that prevent a draw from being played. A long second shot into the third green is hard to hold on the small putting surface.
It is a fact that almost all the trouble on Cottonwood Country Club sits on the left side of the course, making it a draw ball hitter’s nightmare. Out of bounds stakes sit on the left-hand side of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6, with the lone danger on the right side of the course being on number 9’s tee shot.
The dogleg right closing hole at Cottonwood also can play as a par 4 or par 5 depending on the tees you play. Today it measured in at 477-yards from the blue tees and leaves the opportunity for birdie if your tee shot finds the left side of the fairway just short of the creek that runs the base of the hill. The ninth green is protected by a bunker in the front right and the dangers of cottonwood limbs that hang over the back and sides of the green.
As our round concluded and Gavin, Scott, Jay, and myself visited about the shots we played and putts we didn’t make in the clubhouse I had to remark, “This really is a challenging little golf course with tiny challenging greens.”
Those tiny challenging greens made for a tough putting day down in that cottonwood filled valley at Cottonwood Country Club.
It just happened to make my day that in the oasis of Eastern Montana there happens to be a downtown watering hole named the Oasis Bar where I could belly up to the bar and complain about my short game with the best of them.
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