With a strong wind sweeping frigid air across the expansive farmland west of Bozeman, I teed off on the first hole at Cottonwood Hills. This wind was a cutting wind, a down to your core freezing your bones kind of wind that wouldn’t stop.
Suffering alongside me once again was my friend Jeff Bellach, who used to work on the grounds crew in the summers at Cottonwood Hills. He explained this wind in the early morning was something he couldn’t ever forget.
“I remember, when the wind would blow like this, you couldn’t wear enough layers to stay warm” said Jeff.
In this cutting and cold wind, Jeff and I made our way through an early morning round at Cottonwood. Starting on the 510-yard 1st hole, we began our round straight in to the wind on this par 5. A water hazard right off the tee obscures your view of the fairway on the left-hand side. A large bunker sits in the landing area on the right of the fairway midway to the green. This green is protected by a large deep bunker in front and a bunker to the left of the putting surface.
Playing our way along as the first tee time at Cottonwood after teeing off at 7:00 AM that morning, Jeff and I worked our way across the little winding creek that runs throughout the course.
Along with the dangerous creek, in course out-of-bounds can result in big numbers around this course on the 7th hole. This dogleg right par 5 features out-of-bounds on the right as your tee shot is hit down a rolling hill toward the corner of this daunting hole. If your drive is long enough, it can result in a mid to long iron into this right-to-left sloping green that is protected in front by the creek and a pair of bunkers behind the green.
After completing the front nine at Cottonwood, we made our way to the back nine where we again were challenged by the tough wind. Facing the par 4 10th hole that plays longer than the 410-yards listed on the card when the wind is blowing. Tee shots on this hole have to sit short of the pond and creek that is 250-yards off the tee. The second shot for this hole is in to a dangerously undulating kidney bean shaped green.
As the cold wind continued to press against us as we finished our round, I decided that while at Cottonwood I had better play the executive course as well. So as Jeff loaded his clubs into his vehicle, I lugged mine over to the short track to test my wedge game. Measuring in at 1,157-yards for nine holes, the executive course at Cottonwood Hills makes golfers wonder just how few greens they can hit with a wedge in their hand on every tee box. This executive course features tiny and near perfect greens that make the imagination work when creating ways to get the tee shots to dodge or ride the wind to end up close to the pin.
This 27-hole day at Cottonwood was an absolute delight even despite the cold and brutal wind. I’m decided I’ll blame my lack of scoring on both the Cottonwood Hills course and the executive course on the wind.
It isn’t easy hitting golf shots in weather where you can barely feel your hands.