“When in Plentywood” at Plentywood Golf Club

There’s a confidence you acquire while holding a shotgun in your hands. The combination of the ringing in my ears, the kick of the 12 gauge, and the shot of adrenaline that was coursing through my veins was enough to have me hooked and eager to join the Plentywood, Montana Trap Club.

This trip to the farthest reaches of Northeast Montana was one of firsts for me so I blindly agreed when Doug Selvig asked if I wanted to tag along with him and shoot trap on Wednesday evening.

While riding shotgun in his truck we pulled into the parking lot near the fairgrounds on the edge of Plentywood as he looked over and asked, “Have you ever shot trap before?”

I replied quickly, “No, I never have.”

Doug smiled and casually said, “Well, we’ll change that.”

So on a hot Northeastern Montana evening, I found myself standing in the middle station having not fired a shotgun in years getting ready to shoot at moving targets. It took all my might not let my eyes get wide as the first shooter called, “PULL” and knocked the first clay pigeon out of the sky in a flash.

All I could think was, “What in the hell have I gotten myself into?”

Then the second shooter’s turn came and after barking out the command they also knocked the orange target out of the sky.

Suddenly it was my turn. I drew my shotgun to my shoulder and tried my best to look like I was doing as I yelled out, “PULL” with a small crack in my voice that sometimes happens when I’m trying not to mess my drawers.

The target flew up and I did my best to lock on to it as I’d seen the other shooters do and pulled the triggers. As the shotgun kicked into my shoulder, I reluctantly saw the pigeon continue on its original course unscathed by my pathetic first attempt.

The shooting wasn’t all bad on my part as the rounds went on and I got more comfortable with shotgun. After successfully doing my best impression of Kid Shelleen and knocking four consecutive targets out of the sky, I glanced to my left and down the line a few stations to see Doug looking at me with one hand on his hip laughing and shaking his head. He could see by the oversized grin on my face that the new guy was having a ball.

I wish that newfound confidence and warm summer weather had translated to the next day’s round of golf at Plentywood Golf Club, but we had fun anyway.

With colder weather and a tough wind barreling in from the east, Plentywood Golf Club presented its fair share of challenges on my first trip around these links.

Doug Selvig obliged to take me around the golf course because my poor trip planning prevented me from playing with the Ordahl family as I originally intended. Kevin Ordahl even holds a share of the course record at Plentywood Golf Club but couldn’t play because he was out on the farm seeding. I laughed and had to apologize for my lack of understanding of the agrarian calendar preventing us from playing his home course.

The first hole at Plentywood Golf Club is a blind downhill par 4 that slightly doglegs left past a pair of pine trees that sit on the corner above the green. I found myself standing underneath one of these trees after hitting my drive a tad bit left of where I would have liked. After being warned about how hard the greens were early in the season here I played a little bump-n-run 7 iron down the embankment and onto the green.

They weren’t lying when warning me about the difficulty of holding the greens. It made for one of the most exciting tests of your golf game having to hit the ball in different ways and play the bounces to just try and hold the ball on the putting surface.

The layout of Plentywood Golf Club is a unique one I’d never seen before. The course features three par 3’s, three par 4’s, and three par 5’s.

My two favorite holes on the course were the par 3 second and the par 5 third. The par 3 second hole is a daunting little tee shot from an elevated tee box to a back-to-front sloping green protected by a left greenside bunker that measures in at only 140 yards.

The par 5 third hole, is a dogleg left that provides you the opportunity to cut the corner over the top of some trees and a large hillside or to play it safe along the righthand side of the fairway. Being too far wayward on either side of the fairway will place you in a tough spot for your third into a slightly elevated green with a bunker on the right.

My time in Plentywood has been an absolute treat and the Plentywood Golf Club didn’t disappoint. It was a trip of firsts for myself up in Northeastern Montana.

I just wish I had as much confidence with a putter in my hands as I did with that 12 gauge.

“What a Great Neck of the Woods” at Scobey Golf Course

Scobey Golf Course

I made a phone call last night as I turned north just a couple miles east of Wolf Point. The phone rang as I bobbed along on the highway until finally I heard my friend say, “I hear you’re heading up to my neck of the woods.”

His neck of the woods, to be more specific is Scobey, Montana, population 1,032. Scobey might have the record for being the smallest town I happen to know the most people from, and I added to that list today.

Cruising up the narrow two-lane highway towards Scobey I crested a hill and saw an expanse of farmland as far as you could see with Scobey’s water tower in the distance. Driving through Scobey I took a few turns and wound up at Phil Audet’s house.

Phil is the oldest brother to my friend Dana Audet who lives and plays golf in Great Falls. Phil said, “Dana called me and said I had to play golf with you and take care of you while you’re in town.”

Phil did more than that. In the late evening we drove a few blocks down a gravel road to the Scobey Golf Course and sat in the clubhouse to swap stories and talk about the history of the golf course in Scobey with the course’s Superintendent Dan Wolfe. It was a gorgeous evening in the hilltop clubhouse that used to be a U.S. Air Force Radar Base that sat a couple of miles west of Opheim.

“I’m sure the guys who moved it over here had something like 30 flat tires on the trip over, the damn building was so heavy,” Wolfe laughed.

So, there we sat with the sun dropping lower toward the horizon and ate dinner while throwing back a few beers as I looked over the nine-hole expanse that is called the Scobey Golf Course.

Phil and Jerry Raaum play golf every day they can at Scobey. “We usually walk the front nine, and then get a cart for the back,” said Phil. I was thankful they let me join them today.

Also joining us and walking along on my first trip around Scobey’s links was Mike Stebleton, the sports editor for the Daniels Country Leader.

Phil and Jerry gave directions while we trekked our way along on a hot May day that reached about 84 degrees by the time we were done. They’d point out the green and the trouble on each hole and helped guide me around the course on my maiden voyage.

The first hole at Scobey Golf Course is a downhill blind dogleg right par 5 that includes a blind tee shot over some trees and bushes if you hit a draw like I do and wanted to cut the corner. We moseyed our way down the fairway on one to an elevated green where I chipped up close and started with a birdie.

We talked about the history of club, like it’s sand greens for it’s first 57 years of existence before the greens were turned into grass putting surfaces in 1984. The course draws its water for the pond that comes into play and provides a soothing backdrop for the second, third, and fourth holes from the Poplar River that flows in the field next to the course.

My favorite hole on course would have to be the par 5 third hole. A slight dogleg to the left, it perfectly suited my draw but has grass bunkers in the right rough if you miss that fairway that will swallow up your golf ball.

The second shot must be wary of the pond that juts out into the left fairway less than one hundred yards short of the green provided the golfer with an opportunity to lay up or go for it in two. As for myself, with Mike, Jerry, and Phil all watching I decided to not lay up and ended up finding the elevated green and giving myself a 12-foot putt for eagle that I lipped in just at the last moment. No wonder it was my favorite hole.

Scobey Golf Course provides its players with a magnificent backdrop of the expansive farmland on many of the tee boxes and greens.

As we finished the round and meandered back up to the clubhouse in the heat of the midday sun, I had to laugh at my first round in Scobey. A bogey free 33 (-3) with one birdie, one eagle, and seven pars. It made for quite the experience at Scobey Golf Club. That and the fantastic hospitality by everyone in town has me confidently saying it won’t be so long before I venture back up into this neck of the woods again.