Rock Creek Cattle Company
Montana, United States of America

Eighth hole, 175 yards; This is an especially rugged portion of the property though you might not guess it from the hole’s serene beauty. Postcard perfect, it epitomizes the quiet solitude that is Rock Creek. Days pass where even a jet’s plume isn’t seen and the only sound is that emanating from the rushing creek passing through its canyon. Solitude is one of the game’s greatest blessings and can be found on the Inner Hebrides at Askernish, at Highland Links on the tip of Cape Breton Island, in the dunes of Tasmania or here on the rugged ranch lands of Montana.

A meandering creek is a wonderful feature when used properly, like a par 3 where all golfers, regardless of ability, are given a perfect lie/stance from which to make the forced carry. The same feature would overwhelm most golfers on most days if it fell at the end of a long two shotter.


Ninth hole, 370 yards;
Recall the comments made regarding the second hole and looking at fairway bunkers for guidance? Ignore that advice here! This hole curls left but assuming that a tee ball left is somehow beneficial would be wrong. Nothing is so simple on a Doak design. Here, it’s preferable to seek the high outside of the dogleg from where the sunken green comes into view. Even with that, a caveat applies in that back right hole locations may not be visible from the right side of the fairway.

On the domed ninth fairway tee balls that hit left of center are shunted toward the bunkers and approach shots from the inside of the dogleg are blind.

 

Far better to stay high right as the green opens up from that vantage.

Cypress Point features a number of appealing and diverse backdrops; so too does Rock Creek.

Tenth hole, 575 yards; There is width and there is Rock Creek width. As Doak notes, ‘We’ve built a lot of wide fairways but these are something else. The impetus here was all the rocks in the ground.  We wanted to make a wide enough playable area so that people wouldn’t be taking drops [legal or illegal?] to avoid hitting a rock on their second shot … and once we tore up the ground to sift through it, it made more sense to make it all fairway than to have a belt of rough between the fairway and the native roughs.’ As outlined visually below, a rifle straight drive near a dominant hazard enables the opportunity for a spectacular shot to reach the green with two blows. Edge just 15-20 yards away from the hazard off the tee and one’s thoughts of reaching the green in two become measurably more complicated thanks to a high-lipped greenside pit of a bunker. The exacting playing angles for the tiger – coupled with the room to play for the rest of us – make this hole among Doak’s finest creations since starting his own architecture firm in 1989 upon finishing High Pointe.

Fairway is even found beyond the solitary bunker at the far right of the photograph on this supreme half-par hole.

The zoomed view above spells it out for the tiger: Take the direct line toward the green from the tee by flirting with the massive left bunkers and enjoy the chance of reaching the green in two.

What a thrill trying to have a go at this green from 240 yards out!

 

The prospects of pitching a ball close from the valley below is not great; far preferable to advance one’s second as close to green high as possible.


Eleventh hole, 410 yards;
Rick Hathaway and crew maintain a whopping 59 acres of fairway turf for holes one through eighteen. One of the widest fairways in the world at 110 yards (!) is found here but it still manages to require a measure of precision.  There is a level area near the two left hand bunkers where a much appreciated level lie awaits. This ~ twenty yard wide area greatly assists the golfer in finding the domed green that shrugs shots away in all directions. The author would vote this green as the single hardest target on the course to consistently hit and hold. How apropos that it comes at the end of such a gigantic fairway.

While the fairways is 110 yards (!) from side to side, it is one of the least friendly on the course.

Tee balls that peel slightly right are shunted well right and leave the golfer with a much tougher, longer and more elevated approach.

 

Much better to seek the flatter area near this pair of bunkers some 170 yards from the tee.


Twelfth hole, 150 yards;
Problematic for a course with such width can be the one shot holes. They need to be multi-dimensional and play differently from round to round. Otherwise, they won’t feel like the same fabric as the rest of the course. As Lead Associate for two plus years, Eric Iverson had time to mull that over and make this hole work. Doak makes the point that ‘you can’t just build a postage-stamp green surrounded by rocks … too many balls will wind up on the rocks.  So a short par-3 is one of the hardest holes to build.  We used a lot of sand as buffer here.‘ In an early iteration, this green was at the end of a par four.

The elongated green extends 38 yards from front left to back right. Today’s left hole location poses a much different question than the middle or back right locations. Beware the false front bowl between the two bunkers.

 

Thirteenth hole, 220 yards; Architects these days all sound the same, despite having wildly differing styles. Each proclaims ‘I let nature dictate where the holes fell!’ but few actually do. Doak is the rare exception as demonstrated by these back to back one shotters. A clear rival to the sixth at Cape Kidnappers as Doak’s finest long par 3, the prospects from the tee shift with the weather. As a bonus, the ten plus mile view from behind this elevated green reminds the golfer that he is indeed in Big Sky country. Seeing contused clouds roll across the landscape is awe-inspiring.

This is the view from the 265 yard (!) back tee. Big boy britches are required.

A rocking bridge connects the tees to the fairway of this long one shotter.

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