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Signature series: Jack Nicklaus-designed Old Works blends beauty, history

Posted at 10:44 PM, Jul 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-28 22:40:18-04

(Editor’s note: Throughout the remainder of the summer, will be visiting golf courses to feature ‘signature holes’ or holes that tie in to what makes the courses unique. To view more courses highlighted in our Signature Series, please click here. The par-3 fourth at Old Works showcases the course’s blend of beauty and history.)

ANACONDA — Many recognize Jack Nicklaus as the best golfer in history.

The Golden Bear is now leaving his mark on the golf community as a designer. Nicklaus has designed famous courses all over the world, so when his name is on one in Montana, it carries weight.

“I think the biggest thing is, is that Jack is so well-known and he only puts his name on so many golf courses. I think that having that ability to have a course like this in a small town, it just attracts people from all over the state and all over the country, basically,” said Mike Dunlop, who is serving as the general manager at Old Works Golf Course in Anaconda.

Nicklaus has some tendencies when designing courses — easy-to-hit fairways and difficult greens — but Old Works proved to be one of his most challenging undertakings.

“This is the only one of its kind. Jack has done a lot of golf courses, but there’s nothing like this anywhere,” Dunlop said. “In fact, they used two of these holes at, what they call, Bear’s Best in Las Vegas. They have all of his best holes everywhere, and they’ve used … a couple of the holes here.”

The uniqueness of Anaconda presented Nicklaus with challenges during the design phase, but the history and beauty resulted in a one-of-a-kind course. Built on the original site of Anaconda’s first copper-smelting facilities, Old Works features remnants from the old smelters around the course.

No hole showcases that better than the par-3 fourth. From the tee box, golfers can look across the front nine, know as the Upper Works, where a large slag pile sits in the middle of the course. Historical markings dot the landscape in every direction, a flue towering over the green.

No. 4’s fairway is lined with trees on the way to a large, tiered green protected by a black-sand bunker in the front.

“You can see all of what he was looking at trying to do with design: give you some pin placements that are difficult and make it a little more difficult that way,” Dunlop said. “The length of the hole is not extreme. … From the slag tees, we’re talking 195 yards. Plays a little uphill, so it’s more like 202-ish, right in there. As far as fitting in with the rest of the golf course, I think all the holes have that same thing. They work well together. This is a good par 3 on the front, as well as No. 7.”

Nicklaus often requires good iron play on his courses, and Old Works is no different. On No. 4, a poorly hit shot off the tee will leave golfers scrambling.

“If you don’t get it somewhere up around the green, it’s going to be difficult,” Dunlop said. “If you hit it in that bunker that’s short of the green, it’s pretty elevated up to the top portion. You’re going to want to stay left. We have in golf what you call sucker pins, and sometimes on this hole you can get one. If it’s farther right … that’s what they consider a sucker pin. So just hit it to the middle of the green and hope for a two-put and take your par and move on.”