Montana's Longest Drive

“Wind and Rain and a Carroll Golf Ball” at Bill Roberts Golf Course

Bennett MacIntyre and I stood on the 17th tee box at Bill Roberts and had to laugh. The people driving by with windshield wipers going wild and their heaters cranked had to be thinking we were nuts. Two lone souls out on the golf course in a downpour of rain and a constant wind.

Dressed in our rain gear, Bennett and I met at Bill Roberts and were assured we were the only two guys crazy enough to want to play golf in this weather by the Pro Shop staff. As their phone rang repeatedly with people calling in to cancel their tee times because of the weather, we made our way out the first tee.

On this first tee Bennett, made me a deal. The Carroll College Golf Coach handed me a sleeve of Titleist golf balls and said, “If I’m going to play in this weather with you, you’ve got to play this round with some Fighting Saints golf balls.”

I laughed and begrudgingly agreed to this hilarious proposition. So, it began with the long-hitting Carroll College coach and I, a Montana Tech Oredigger at heart, each whacking Fighting Saint golf balls around this waterlogged golf course.

Bill Roberts is, and has always been, one of my favorite courses in the state. A public golf course that sees hundreds of golfers out there every day, today it was dormant, except for two crazy guys with a lot of faith in their rain gear.

As we began our round and acclimated to the weather and constant rain, we played the first few holes and remarked, “It’s not so bad out here.”

The most infamous hole at Bill Roberts is a long 615-yard par 5 called Jaws. This 4th hole is a double-dogleg that requires a tee shot over the tall cottonwood trees along the right side of the rough to cut the corner. After getting past the corner, the next shot is to the top of the hill to set up a short-iron or wedge into a well-protected green. All along this hole OB stakes consistently remind you of just how close you are to having your round blow up on you with just one bad swing.

As the temperatures continued to drop, the wind continued to howl, and the rain continued it’s fall we kept trudging along playing golf and I continued to play with a Fighting Saints golf ball. I made attempts to lose it, but Bennett dug through weeds and timber to find it. He would laugh as he found my ball and said, “You’re not going to get out of this deal that easy.”

On the back nine, the 155-yard par 3 13th hole is a fantastic golf hole. With a beautiful pond in front of the green and to the right of the tee box. A bunker behind the green will swallow up any shots that are over hit to stay safe from the water. The green on the 13th is a hard-sloping back-to-front green with a crowned center that can make two putts from the side of the hole extremely challenging.

With my Carroll ball still in my possession and with an idea that my rain gear should have come with a money-back guarantee we came up to the 18th tee at Bill Roberts with just one hole left to play. This downhill par 5 is tree-lined on the left side and has a water hazard to the right midway down the fairway. At 477-yards this par 5 is reachable in two if the second shot can negotiate the pond short left of the green and the four bunkers that surround the putting surface.

Shaking hands and laughing at being the only people on one of the busiest courses in Montana, Bennett and I visited as we tried to dry off and warm up in the clubhouse.

“I wonder why no one else wanted to play in this stuff today?” I joked.

Despite the cold temperatures and freezing rain, I couldn’t have asked for a better playing partner at one of my favorite tracks in the state.

Even if he did make me tee up a Carroll College golf ball the whole round.

Thanks to Bennett MacIntyre and the staff at Bill Roberts for a great day of golf on such a fun course!

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