My guide around Lake Hills Golf Club was a one of a kind gentleman named John Alberta. The former football and golf coach at Billings Senior High School volunteers his time at Lake Hills and generously offered to show me around the property during Thursday morning.
Dressed in a bright orange shirt and proudly sporting an orange Lake Hills hat, John was the ultimate ambassador of the course he works and plays at. Throughout the round he showed me the antelope that call Lake Hills home, introduced me to everyone we came across, and even invited me inside to eat lunch with the Senior Home & Home tournament participants. There was just no saying no to Mr. Alberta.
It had to be quite the sight to behold as a 24-year-old walked step-by-step with a golf cart manned my the 86-year-old “Mayor” of Lake Hills. John and I visited about his football teams, his golf teams, and discussed every sport story imaginable during the round.
Lake Hills Golf Club is a wonderful track that can play as long as 6,802-yards from the back tees. When it was built in 1957 it was one of the longest courses in the state of Montana.
Because of a tournament the senior tournament that was being played, John and I started our journey on the back nine. The 10th hole at Lake Hills is a 536-yard par 5, that allows you to get off to the right start if your drive is in the fairway. Stray too far to the left or right and your second shot into this slightly undulating green could be over before it even gets started. A number of antelope can most likely be found to the right of this hole in the long fescue rough.
John Alberta was quick to point out when we got to the 11th hole that this was the hole where he got the first of his six holes-in-one. The 11th is a 165-yard par 3 that is protected by a tree on the left and deep bunkers behind the green and to the right of the green.
When I asked John when he got his first hole-in-one he responded, “Oh, I’m 86-years old, I can’t remember that far back. I just remember it happened right here. It’s all about luck.”
Another challenging and fun hole on the back nine at Lake Hills is the par 5 13th. From an elevated tee this hole slightly doglegs right after a large bunker that sits 280-yards from the tee box and occupies the right side of the fairway landing area. A small stream runs the length of the hole on the left-hand side of the fairway while the green is protected by a large pond inside of a hundred yards of the green. The elevated green slopes away from the center in all directions and can tempting to go for in two if your drive finds the fairway.
On the front nine, John and I joined four other golfers on the downhill 3rd hole. At only 356-yards and downhill a big drive can put you squarely in birdie range. Out of bounds to the right and water on the left makes for a daunting tee shot. The large green on the third slopes away from the fairway midway through the putting surface and can make holding this green without a wedge in your hand very difficult.
As it turns out, John had coached two of the guys we joined up with at Senior High School. As we concluded the round and John introduced me to everyone he could inside the dining room at Lake Hills I had to be very thankful.
I get to call myself a friend of the “Mayor” of Lake Hills.