I remember playing golf through all four seasons in one day. Having to clear a path through the snow that had fallen in late April to putt my ball at the Frontier Conference Championships when I was a sophomore in college.
The weather was a bit better this time around when I got to play Larchmont Golf Course in Missoula on a hot Saturday afternoon. With temperatures in the low 90s, I met up with someone who remembered the cold rounds at Larchmont just as well as I did, former Carroll College golfer Justin Galiher.
There aren’t many people who have spent more time at Larchmont than Justin who has worked and played out there for as long as he can remember. With a father who is the golf pro at Larchmont, Justin knows Larchmont like the back of his hand from countless rounds at this public course in Missoula.
Larchmont is usually a busy track filled with foursomes at all hours of the day, but on Saturday afternoon the course seemed uncharacteristically empty. Perhaps the first hot day of the summer was scaring off some of the usual crowd, or the lakes and rivers of western Montana were beckoning folks to come cool off, but either way Justin and I flew around the course at Larchmont in record time.
A fantastic track that plays between 7,000 and 6,400 yards from the different sets of tees, Larchmont has grown into a mature golf course. With wide fairways lined by tall trees, Larchmont is gettable if you stay in the fairway off the tee.
Opening with a 504-yard par 5 that meanders past a bank of trees in the right rough just past the wide landing area 250-yards from the tee. An uphill second shot can reach the green if it avoids the twin bunkers in front of this undulating and large green.
As Justin and I enjoyed the heat, we had to reminisce about the much colder rounds we’d played on this course. We talked about old teams we played against, courses we remembered, and how suspect the weather usually was when you had to play golf in the fall and spring in Montana.
While setting our record pace and playing the front nine in an hour-and-fifteen minutes, we teed off on the par 4 8th hole. This 335-yard dogleg right is one of my favorites on this great course. A high wall of trees along the right rough forces players to decide whether to play it smart by laying up short of the trees through the fairway with a 240-yard shot just past the corner or to make the riskier choice and try to cut the corner with a tee shot that has to carry the trees. Another set of bunkers protects this small back-to-front sloping green on this fantastic hole.
On the back nine, Justin said his favorite hole was the par 5 16th. At 493-yards this par 5 doesn’t seem too daunting on the scorecard, but as it slightly turns right midway down the fairway the left side of the hole is lined by a pond and the green is protected by a monstrous tree in front of the left side of the putting surface while trees line the right side of the rough. This undulating and challenging green is out on a small peninsula that consistently reminds players that you’re just a few feet away from digging in your bag for a new golf ball.
After finishing our round on the 381-yard par 4 18th hole that becomes tight and tree lined around 270-yards from the tee and with a green with water on the right and a deep bunker on the left, Justin and I grabbed a beer and sat on the patio after our round.
As the heat faded and made for a beautiful late afternoon in Missoula, I was sure that this beat the heck out of playing through a snowstorm so years ago.
Thanks to Larchmont Golf Course and the Justin Galiher for a great afternoon of golf at this great track in Missoula!