In the shadows of the Beartooth Mountains is the little resort town of Red Lodge, Montana, one of my favorite places in the world. With a beautiful and historic main street full of shops, boutiques, and fun little bars Red Lodge has everything a town with a ski resort needs.
When the snow eventually melts off of the ski hill in May another opportunity for recreation comes to life in Red Lodge at Red Lodge Mountain Golf Course. The golf course overlooks the valley that houses the little ski town that hustles and bustles every day of the summer thanks to the many festivals and activities the town puts on.
Besides the golf, the other reason I love Red Lodge is because my Sister, Brother-in-Law, and Nieces and Nephew live there. Visiting these hilarious kids each with their own wild and funny personality is something that I never grow tired of. Whether it’s jumping on the trampoline or listening to their jokes and stories these kids are always a hoot.
The night I made it to Red Lodge, my sister Annie and I took the kids down to the Red Box Car. This little ice cream shop housed in an old red railroad car along the roaring Rock Creek. With swirl cones for the youngest two and sundaes for the rest of the family, the hilarious jibber-jabber from the back of the car quickly subsided as we drove home. I’m quite sure the 7-year-old nephew got more of his swirl cone on his face than in it.
The next morning, I drove to the golf course to meet up with PGA Master Professional Scott Cain who my brother-in-law had recruited to join me for my round at Red Lodge Mountain Golf Course. Cain retired to Red Lodge a few years back to ski the mountain in the winter and golf in the summer.
On a gorgeous day for golf, Scott and I ventured out onto thinks and talked all about the game of golf and how it has positively affected both our lives.
“The game of golf has given me so much,” said Scott. “Sometimes I think back to how lucky I’ve been to have so much fun with a life in this game. It really isn’t work if you love what you’re doing every day you get up.”
Scott Cain’s career was tremendous to hear about. He has been a member of the National PGA Rules of Golf Committee for the last 30 years, worked as a PGA Tournament Administrator, worked on Ryder Cups, and worked NCAA Golf Championships.
I picked his brain as we walked Red Lodge’s course and Scott instructed me on where to hit it on this winding and difficult golf course. The 8th hole at Red Lodge Mountain Golf Course is a dogleg right with a creek that runs in front of the green. A think row of trees will swallow up any tee shots too far to the right of the fairway and thick rough along the left of the fairway will make second shots into this elevated green protected by twin front bunkers even more difficult.
The streams that crisscross the property of the golf course can surprise you off the tee if you aren’t careful and send your ball rushing along the streambed never to be seen again.
The 15th is the signature hole at Red Lodge Mountain Golf Course is a severely downhill par 3 that measures in at 185 yards. The hole plays two clubs shorter because of the elevation change. The island green of this hole can be seen from the highway as you drive in to town. One of the largest greens on the course, it demands a confident tee shot and club selection to this sloping green you must cross a bridge to get to.
After playing the island green hole, the par 5 16th, and the uphill par 3 17th, Scott and I began our summit of the trail that leads up the valley wall to the 18th tee box. Weaving its way up the steep hill the path is a long arduous walk that leaves you gasping for air when you reach the top.
After we finally hit the top of the hill and were on our way to the 18th tee, I noticed a white sign and a cooler sitting in the yard of a house not more than a hundred yards to our left. The sign read:
MONTANA’S LONGEST DRIVE
Scott got a kick out of seeing the sign that my friend Paul Hart had put out for us, and we enjoyed the Red Lodge Ales that were in the cooler. We laughed and cheers to our host who wasn’t home, and Scott joked, “You’ve got to tell this guy that I play league on Wednesday nights.”
Finishing our round refreshed from the cold craft beer Paul had generously provided, we shook hands as Scott stuck the flag back into the cup on the last hole.
With my new friend and golf partner in Red Lodge, I found another reason that Red Lodge is one of my favorite places in the world.