North Dakota's Most Interesting Golf Holes
North Dakota is home to several of the top golf courses in the Midwest. Set on the north shore of Lake Sakakawea, the Links of North Dakota, along with the Jim Engh-designed Hawktree Golf Club near Bismarck and Medora’s Bully Pulpit, are widely considered the premier courses in the state and include several of the state’s “must-play” golf holes.
Links of North Dakota - No. 17
Located in the northwestern corner of the state, The Links of North Dakota is the state’s top ranked course by Golfweek and Golf Digest for the years 2009-2013. The Stephen Kay-designed, 18-hole tract is laid out in a region with very few other courses and few local golfers to play them. But those who make the trip are in for a treat. Kay designed the course to play firm and fast and features 45-yard fairways to accommodate shots often affected by windy conditions.
Kay included a North Berwick-style “Redan” hole, inspired by a visit to Ireland and Scotland. The 232-yard 17th hole plays downhill to a large, diagonal green, fortified by bunkers and steep drop-offs to the sides, so distance and accuracy are needed to make par. You’ll need confidence if you choose your driver.
Bully Pulpit - The Badlands Holes (Nos. 14, 15, 16)
President Theodore Roosevelt coined the term “bully pulpit” for the White House, meaning it was a great platform for which to influence opinion. When built in 2004, Bully Pulpit’s 18-hole tract took that same name. As the course is situated near Theodore Roosevelt National Park, it seemed appropriate.
Located along the Little Missouri River just south of the small town of Medora, the Michael Hurdzan design traverses the meadows and woodlands along the river until you arrive at hole 14.
Once you emerge from the beneath the bluff over the 13th green, the signature trio of holes deemed “The Badland Holes” await beginning on the 14th tee. Worked directly into the buttes, No. 14, while without a bunker, features a narrow landing area providing a challenge from the tee. As you make your way into the terrain, you will need an accurate approach, so choose your wedge wisely. Next, the 15th is one of the most scenic and yet tricky par-3 holes you’ll ever play. The tee shot requires extreme accuracy as the 161-yard hole plays from a tee set atop a ridge to what seems like a microscopic green also set on a ridgetop. Once you finally get off the green on 15, the downhill par-4 16th hole follows along a bottleneck that creates a demanding target for even the best at getting off the tee.
Hawktree Golf Course – (Nos. 3, 18)
Hawktree Golf Club is a couple miles outside the state capital of Bismarck and weaves in and around Burnt Creek and around three man-made lakes. Black sand bunkers create a distinctive look, and the elevation changes throughout the course highlight the contemporary Jim Engh-designed tract.
There is an intimidating 80-foot elevation change from tee to green on the challenging 164-yard, par-3 third hole. Regardless of wind direction, it will definitely factor in club selection here.
But the most difficult and challenging hole is clearly the 18th. The 588-yard par 5 requires a 150-yard uphill approach, and the wind is likely to impact your mood while reloading your clubs to the trunk.
Jordan Fuller is a golf coach, mentor, and writer. He owns the golf publication site www.golfinfluence.com, where he shares tips, tricks and guides to improve and learn more about the game itself. Aside from mentoring, coaching and writing, Jordan also loves to travel for golf and keep on discovering challenging golf courses."