With how far I’d come, I wasn’t going to let a little rain stop me. But this was more than a little rain.
Playing in a heavy drizzle for a majority of my last nine at EagleRock Golf Course outside of Billings, Montana, I had grown accustomed to traipsing through the deep puddles and suddenly apparent rivers that were running down the fairways.
The rumble of distant thunder was suddenly upon me as I hit a 4-iron to a narrow stretch of fairway on the 429-yard par 4 9th hole that wasn’t under water. I threw my club back into my bag and began to run with my golf bag slung over my right shoulder through the now underwater fairway and rough as rain began to pelt my back. First the drops were small, then larger, then gigantic and falling by the thousands. With the rain came small chunks of hail. Golf carts from all over front nine were speeding toward the clubhouse to escape the torrential downpour and storm as I continued my frantic rush to finish what I had started.
After essentially crossing the Delaware to get to my tee shot and being completely soaked from the pouring rain I instinctively reached for my rangefinder to figure my yardage into the green. Looking through the eyepiece of the rangefinder I realized that it had been ruined by the heavy downpour. So, with a rough guess at the yardage I hit my ball up near the green. My path to the green grew even more difficult as jumped over small rivers and trudged through endlessly long puddles that pushed water clear up past my ankles.
As painful bits of hail flew almost sideways and hit me, I pulled my hat down to protect my eyes and chipped up near the pin. A four-foot putt stood between me and the most waterlogged par of my life. So I took my time and carefully read it to break a smidge to the left. With wind, and rain, and hail, and my whole body soaked, I calmly knocked the ball into the rainwater filled cup.
Walking toward the clubhouse I had to be quite the sight for the folks holed up in under the awning. One of them asked, “What in the hell were you doing out there?”
“Finishing out. I wasn’t gonna let a little bit of moisture stop me,” I replied.
Mother Nature wasn’t going to win today, not with all the work I had done to get to this point.
When I first got to EagleRock, I was told I was only going to be able to play the back nine. With the front nine really soaked the staff at EagleRock wasn’t going to allow carts or anything of the like on the lower nine holes.
I started off on the 10th tee and made my way around the back nine with relative ease. Sure, I had to find alternative routes to some of the greens and had to take the long way around a couple of puddles, but it was worth it.
The 16th and 17th holes at EagleRock are fantastic golf holes. Both playing around 330-yards from the blue tee boxes they are back-to-back dogleg lefts that force the players to weigh the option of cutting the corner or playing safe and smart by finding the fairway with a long iron. The 16th features a pond on the left of the fairway and in front of the tee that you must clear. A crowned green awaits a short wedge shot if you can find the sloping fairway with your tee shot. The 17th has a stream with tall cattails on the left-hand side of the fairway and is protected by a deep bunker in the front left of the green. This large green slopes back-to-front and requires you to be below the hole to be aggressive on a birdie putt.
Nearing the end of my first nine I played down the middle of the fairway of the 18th hole and decided to lay up short of the green to give myself the best chance at birdie. Unfortunately, where I layed up to was a twenty-foot-long and twenty-foot-wide puddle of rainwater that had accumulated from the storms the previous evening. There was my ball, a lonely Titleist sitting submerged just out of reach in the middle of the fairway, waiting for the next golfer to come up the 18th hole on a day that is a little less damp.
After the front nine, I had to beg and plead with the staff to get permission to play the front. After about a half hour of watching me pace outside the shop window they decided to let me go out with one of their members who was only going to play a few holes.
So, I caught up with a man with long gray hair named Dale who was originally going to hit the driving range only to find it closed. We played and visited for the first four or five holes before Dale wisely said, “I think this storm is moving in, I’m going to get out of here before it hits. Are you going to come in?”
“No, I think I’ll stick it out,” I joked and quoted the line from Caddyshack. “I don’t think the heavy stuff is gonna come down for quite a while.”
Four holes later, I was soaked to the bone and carrying a golf bag that was dripping with rainwater as I walked back to my car. I threw my bag in the back and laid a towel over the seat before driving back into Billings. As I started my car, I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear-view mirror and busted out laughing.
Staring back at me was a windburned face with drops of rain still running down my forehead and a large “that was great fun wasn’t it?” grin. It was great fun and a little bit of a torrential downpour wasn’t going to stop me.
Carl Spackler would’ve been proud.
Thank you to the staff at EagleRock Golf Course for being so accommodating and helping me complete another step in my journey to play every golf course in Montana.