Montana's Longest Drive

“A Golfing Garden of Eden” at Hilands Golf Club

Nestled in the middle of a residential section of Billings is an immaculate nine-hole golf course called Hilands Golf Club. This private course was constructed in 1922 on a plot of land selected by golf’s legendary Walter Hagen.

This parkland style course features narrow fairways lined by the tallest of pine trees that demand precision tee shots. Walking around the course of Hilands has you thinking that the Garden of Eden must look a lot like this. Green grass, a gorgeous blue sky, and small ponds and creeks that meander throughout the nine-hole track make you forget you’re in the heart of Billings.

Continuing my day of golf with Sean Ryan and Nate Royer from our morning round at Yellowstone, I stood in awe at some of the beautiful holes that Hilands hosts.

Holes like the par 4 second, that can play as a drive-able par 4 if you’re willing to risk hitting it into a pair of small ponds that protect the front of the green that sits in front of the patio of the clubhouse. Measuring in at 275-yards from the back tees this shot is less about power and more about accuracy. Laying up with a long iron or hybrid will give you a short wedge shot in to the small green that features small undulations that can sometimes go unnoticed until after you’ve missed your putt.

The fourth hole at Hilands plays as a par 4 on the front nine and a par 5 on the back measuring in at 469-yards. The tee box sits in between a pair of little ponds where small ducks sit and quack without a care in the world. A tee shot that finds the large inviting fairway allows you to go for the sloping and undulating green in two if you’re careful not to hit it out of bounds on the left.

The most exciting hole at Hilands is the par 4 fifteenth hole that is 290-yards long and doglegs right near the green. A high fading tee shot can find the green in one with a good chance at eagle if you can negotiate the tall cottonwood trees that drape over the left-hand side of the fairway and protect the putting surface.

As we finished our round at Hilands and put our clubs in our cars we eventually ended up in the clubhouse bar telling stories to one another and to a large group that had formed around our table. I even ran into my old high school buddy and teammate Gabe Gaudreau working in the pro shop at Hilands. Montana really is such a small world.

Hilands Golf Club is a masterpiece of a nine-hole golf course that knows exactly what makes people want to golf. It provides a gorgeous experience in a parkland setting with tall pine trees and receptively soft greens and a great atmosphere around the entire acreage.

No wonder Walter Hagan picked this plot of land to build a little golfing Garden of Eden.

A special thank you to Eddie Kavran and the staff at Hilands Golf Club for letting me experience this magnificent golf course on my trip.

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