Montana's Longest Drive

“Beers in the Tunnel” at the Butte Country Club

Walking side-by-side with my older brother Bill into the tunnel that runs under Elizabeth Warren Avenue in Butte, we found a pair of presents that had been waiting for us in this dark tunnel. As our eyes adjusted to the sudden darkness of the tunnel and we walked closer and closer, we finally figured out what they were.

“Beer!” I yelled as I picked up both cans like a kid who just ran down the stairs on Christmas morning to see that the jolly old fat man himself did indeed think he was good this year.

Sitting there in the shadows underneath the rain-soaked road between the 15th and 16th holes, were a couple of canned microbrews that the Butte Country Club’s Head Golf Professional Josh Walsh had left for us. He must have figured we might need a pick me up after trapesing through the chilly and wet weather all morning long. And boy was he right.

Decked out in rain gear, I was prepared to play the Butte Country Club by myself that morning when my brother Bill decided to tag along. Dressed like he was a veteran crab fisherman straight off a King Crab season with the crew of The Northwestern on the Bering Sea, Bill offered to walk along with me during my rain soaked round. I’m glad he did, because he got to witness one of the craziest and luckiest shots of my lifetime.

On the 347-yard par 4 5th hole, I had hooked my drive into the trees along the left. With O.B. down the right side of the hole it was a safe miss, but it left me essentially treed. With a pine tree a good ten yards in front of me that had low hanging boughs it forced me to hit a punch shot toward the front of this elevated green that has a steep hill leading up to it from the fairway. At 135-yards out, I played a 4-iron in the back of my stance and intended to bounce it in front of the green and hopefully have it trundle its way up the hill and onto the putting surface.

The ball did just that as it first bounced just past the cart signs 25-yards in front of the green and then continued to roll its way up the hill and onto the green. Then the ball hit the pin and disappeared.

“Did that just go in?” Bill asked as he looked bewildered.

“It sure did!” I exclaimed and let out a belly laugh.

With an improbable eagle on the 5th hole, I had suddenly gone from the outhouse to the penthouse and was reinvigorated with an energy that helped me push through the rest of the rainy round. After plucking my ball out of the cup and venturing on with a grin the size of the Berkeley Pit on my face, Bill and I continued our way around the historic Butte Country Club.

The BCC is a course I’m more than familiar with. It was my home course when I played for Montana Tech in college and even where I shot my career-low round while winning the Butte Country Club Pro-Am last summer. It’s a course that I’ve played hundreds of times and have always enjoyed.

One of my favorite holes at the Butte Country Club is the drive-able downhill par 4 11th that measures in at 336-yards. This hole is a great opportunity for birdie that can jump start your back nine. A long tee ball that lands on the downslope of the hill inside 100-yards of the green can find its way on the putting surface if it misses the small hazard in the front right of the green. An oddly shaped green, pin position on this hole is critical and can make eagle a possibility or only a dream depending on where they place the pin.

The back nine at the Butte Country Club is where the real scoring opportunities are on the course. With a bevy of shorter par 4s and the lone par 5 on the card, the 13th hole, this course can give up a number of birdies on the closing nine if you find fairways and greens.

The 18th hole at the Butte Country Club is a 391-yard par 4 that has you tee off from the southern most corner of the property. With OB down the right side and wide pine trees and Blacktail Creek on the left it can look much tighter from the tee box than it is. A wide fairway gives way to an elevated green that is protected by some trees that hang over the right side of the putting surface and a bunker in the front right. A harsh slope on this crowned green will send anything on the left side of the green down the embankment leaving a difficult up-and-down.

Along with the fantastic 18 holes on the Butte Country Club course, it should also be noted that the bar at the BCC is one of the best. This course’s 19th hole features some of the best people Butte has to offer and a relaxing place to grab a bite before or after your round.

But if you’re really in a bind and looking for a drink at the Butte Country Club, check the tunnel between 15 and 16. If you’re in luck, you might just find an IPA or two waiting for you and your brother.

Thanks to the Butte Country Club and to Head Golf Professional Josh Walsh for the fantastic hospitality and the tunnel beers on Tuesday. 

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