GLENDIVE -- Tucked just a couple miles off Interstate 94, beautiful nine-hole Cottonwood Country Club in Glendive awaits. There are more than 1,000 trees on the course, according to general manager Chuck Page, and any shots off the fairway will likely be gobbled up.
“The whole golf course, there’s Cottonwood trees, Elm trees, Lombardis, they’re all kind of hanging over in the way, so you have to kind of pick a side of the fairway to shoot your shots on," said longtime member Gary Badley. "I think the trees are our biggest hazard. Just moving around the course and keeping your ball in play.”
Cottonwood Lake feeds a small creek that runs throughout the course. Although it's just a few feet wide, it’s well-positioned to swallow tee shots and blow up scorecards.
“That’s true. Especially if a person gets a little more aggressive off the tee here, you’re already laying three instead of one with your drop. It’s very frustrating," Badley said. "I’ve played it short most of the time. I know some of my friends and playing partners, they’ll try to go for it. If you fly it in when you’ve hit a good shot, that’s very frustrating.”
You may navigate the creek and avoid the numerous trees lining the fairways, but you’re not out of the woods yet. Nearly every green is elevated, which means most shots that land short won’t climb up.
“You probably need to actually play one more club than what you feel like you need to just to carry it," Badley said. "The greens are receptive. They’re soft. If you hit it on the green it’s going to set there. It’s not going to generally roll back. As we’ve talked, the greens are sloping from back to front, so you don’t really want to be long here either, because then it makes it a pretty difficult chip shot to get back on the green.”
Cottonwood Country Club has been around since 1959, but it plays a bit differently now. The addition of sand traps around the greens, and, you guessed it, more trees, have put a premium on accuracy and distance control.