On July 27, 1805, the Corps of Discovery arrived at the birthplace of the Missouri River. With three separate forks feeding equally into the Missouri, Lewis and Clark decided to name these forks after Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury; James Madison, Secretary of State; and Thomas Jefferson, the President of the United States.
It was at these headwaters that a member of the party remarked in his journal, “This is a very handsome place, with fine bottoms of timber abound.”
Handsome is a good way to describe Headwaters Golf Course in Three Forks, Montana. With tremendous views of the surrounding mountains and a great deal of water surrounding the golf course it is a spectacular place.
At Three Forks, I would have a familiar partner for my first round at Headwaters Golf Course. My friend Tayler Noble is the Pro Shop Manager at Headwaters and joined me for nine holes on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon.
A warm breeze greeted us on the 1st tee as we stared down an opening par 5 along West Three Forks Pond. A slight dogleg right the opening shot must be careful not to fall victim to the water along the right or the westerly wind that pushes tee shots that way. A slightly crowned green sits at the end of this long hole and can be receptive to a long second shot in if it is landed in the front of the green.
Battling the wind on the par 3 2nd hole that plays 206-yards, and the par 4 3rd hole that measures 385-yards into the breeze, Tayler and I were both relieved when we turned around and had the wind at our backs for the 525-yard par 5 4th hole. With out of bounds left and a large pond on the right the tee shot for this hole needs to balance both length off the tee with control as to not hit it too far offline. Reachable in two with the wind being at our backs, we both hit shots onto the large and undulating green from 200-yards out. This green slopes back-to-front and can present a dangerously slick putt back down the hill if your shot into the green runs past the hole.
After the challenging 375-yard dogleg right par 4 5th hole that features a large pond in front of the green that long hitters can fly over but must be careful of the greenside bunkers that protects the elevated green, we turned our attention and our tee shots back into the wind for a few more holes.
On the short par 4 7th, that features water along the left and a row of trees near the green on the right things got more interesting. After hitting up near the hole and giving myself a good look at birdie on this back-to-front sloping green I settled for par. While putting the flagstick back in the cup, a hornet who was being bounced around by the rising wind hit me in the hand and stung me on my left thumb.
I held in a majority of the sailor’s vocabulary that came to mind as my hand swelled up and I had to pull the stinger out, but this presented an interesting predicament later on. With my hand slowly swelling up, I put my golf glove back on before teeing off on the next hole. When I got to the green on the dogleg left 8th hole, my hand had swelled up so much that I couldn’t get my glove off.
As I whined my way through the last few holes complaining about my significant injury I had suffered, my golf game actually improved to which Tayler Noble joked, “Maybe you should get stung by bees more often” as I rolled in my birdie putt on the 9th hole.
After our round, Tayler and I, and my girlfriend who tagged along on such a beautiful afternoon sampled a couple of beverages from Madison River Brewing Company on the deck of Headwaters Golf Course. As we swapped stories and caught up on a gorgeous late afternoon, I looked out on the horizon to see a Blue Heron walking along in the shallow water just off the 1st tee.
I thought about what a beautiful area of Montana this golf course is on and how great the weather had turned out for our round at Headwaters Golf Course.
It’s too bad Lewis and Clark didn’t bring their clubs with them in 1805.