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Bully Pulpit Tour
Check out our Bully Pulpit Fly Over Tour, or scroll down to read descriptions of each of our 18 award-winning holes.
#1 - Boots & Saddles
A sound golf course design principle is to have the first hole play fast and forgiving, yet set the tone and character for the holes that follow. Notice there are lots of tees to choose from, the fairways are wide, there isn't much rough but it is rough, and bunkers are few. I tried to distort your sense of distance by placing the front bunker away from the green so don't let me fool you into taking one or two clubs too short. Smart, bold play will be rewarded.
#2 - Black Gold
This stretch of land has very subtle features, and the little hill at the beginning of the fairway requires you to trust me and play directly over it. Remember, I said "over it", and all it takes is a smooth easy swing with the driver to put in great position for your second shot. This land naturally falls to the left and away from you and so does the back half of the green; so don't be too aggressive on your approach shot.
#3 - Crooks Feast
Nowhere is the angle of play more dramatic and demanding than on this hole. From the back, I challenge the long hitter to fly the left center bunkers and end up with an easy second shot. Play too far right away from the bunkers and there is a nasty little grassy hollow that wants your golf ball. From the other tees located on the edge of an old wagon road, the tee shot gets easier the further forward you move. Play as close to the bunkers as you dare and enjoy this wonderfully natural golf hole.
#4 - Custer's Wash
The Little Mo (as in Missouri) River created this golf course site by bringing down Badlands sediments in the spring melt waters, depositing them along it's edges when it flooded. Now and then it takes back some of those deposits as it meanders northward. In time, the Little Mo will take back the tees on this hole but in the meantime, it allowed me to design a hole that sort of follows the river as it turns slightly left. The key to this hole is to play along the left edge of the fairway, closest to Lil' Mo, for the easiest approach to this bowl shaped green.
#5 - Quicksand
When we first walked the land I was charmed by the combination of small erosions and trees found on the left side of the green. Our goal was to leave those little hollows untouched and in native prairie grasses as a hazard and give lots of bailout room to the right. On a calm day this should not be a difficult hole, but on a windy one, safe is better than sorry.
#6 - Little Mo
The toughest of the Par 5’s and for good reason. The tees on this hole sit on top of the natural floodplain ridge that continues all the way down to the green. Aiming left is a must off the tee as the fairway slopes gradually from left to right. A blind second shot over the fairway bunkers makes for a strategic placement if you plan to leave yourself an easy third. Even the longer hitter will need all he’s got to get there in two. Either way requires excellent shot making to make par, and birdies will be rare.
#7 - Cottonwoods
"Away from the river and into the woods" is the bad play on words of a favorite American Christmas song, but it accurately describes this golf hole. The ideal tee shot should just clear the right hand bunker, for the further left one ends up, the more difficult the approach shot is to this angled green. However, too far right and it's "...into the woods we go." Those cute little undulations in the fairway were a gift from Little Mo, and I gave you the right front bunker to distort your distance estimating.
#8 - Cedars
Again the land allowed me to give two distinct play angles to this par 3 hole. From the right side tees, Davis Creek and the bunker are not much of a factor, while from the left tee all you see from tee to green is creek, sand, and scoria rock. Scoria is formed when underground coal deposits are ignited from prairie fires, and as they smolder they calcine or fire bake the clay deposits around them into red stone. You see lots of scoria on the back nine holes as well as throughout the entire Badlands area.
#9 - Davis Creek
Davis Creek is sort of hidden on the left side of the driving area so the best line of play is to the left of the fairway bunker. Since this hole also plays through the edge of the woods, a little too far right or left of the fairway center may require some creativity on shaping a second shot through or over the trees. The smart play is to the middle of this green, for the right rear hole locations are meant for only the best of players who can really spin and stop a shot on a reverse slope.
#10 - Junipers
Back into the woods with a very wide fairway seems to make this hole play easy. But there is a nasty left front bunker that demands a super second shot to a green that naturally falls away towards the back. If your driver is working well, try to fly the right side mound and bunker complex for if successful, the second shot is much easier. If the flag stick seems short, the hole is located in the little hollow at the back of green, so land the approach in the middle of the green and let the ball release to the hole.
#11 - Marquis De Mores
This hole offers so many optional ways to play it. I'm not even sure which is best. So, I would play the drive in the middle of the fairway, then play a second shot well to the left of the green to the fairway landing area. Big hitters may be tempted to get home in two, which can be done but only with a near perfect second for a little too long or short could be disastrous. There is nothing hidden on this hole except the winds that swirl out of the Badlands and along the big butte by the river.
#12 - Sully's Trail
This hole is much easier than it looks except from the back tees and it is every bit as difficult as it appears to be. The green extends for quite a way to the right behind the bunker and ridge complex. The shorter tees will play down the long axis of the green while back are much more perpendicular to it. To top it all off there is a ridge through the middle of the putting surface and on either side it drops off quickly. Smart play is to the middle of the green until you know the course better.
#13 - Rough Rider
This is a drivable par 4 for the very long hitters, but intelligent play is to the left and upper fairway. This is the most demanding green and bunker complex on the golf course. If your play line is to the lower fairway to dramatically shorten the hole, be very careful and precise with your approach shot for the margin of error is small and the green falls away from you.
#14 - Peaceful Valley
This is the start of the "Oh my goodness corner," for you are in the Badlands! The safe drive is to the left middle of the fairway to allow the ball to run down to the right. What makes the second shot so hard is no just that it is up 20 feet or more, but it also hits into the prevailing summer wind. So take a club or two more than you think, and aim just left of middle for too far right means a long uphill third shot.
#15 - Bully Pulpit
Welcome to the Bully Pulpit and what could be one of the most terrifying par 3's in golf - if not one of the most photographed. If you are on the lower left tee complex, consider aiming at the right edge of the green where it meets the fairway, for the widest margin of error. If you are playing from the upper or right side tee complex, called Bully Pulpit tee by a world famous golf writer, consider landing the ball short of the green and letting it run on. To go for the pin and miss can result in a very difficult recovery shot. But no matter which set of tees you play, take a minute or two and survey the majesty and magic of this beautiful landscape. This is truly "God's country".
#16 - Perched Rock
Wow! Every single time I stand on this tee that is what I say - not just to myself, but usually out loud. Let your eyes feast on a view and listen to the quiet, I am reminded of the 17th tee on the Old Course at Ballybunion, in Ireland, and on that bench are the letters C.T.H. which stands for "closest to Heaven". That view was spectacular, but not any more so than the one you are enjoying here. So take a deep breath and now launch your best drive of the day to the right edge of the fairway and let it trickle down to the middle. This approach shot must fly to the green so take plenty of club and aim to the right of middle.
#17 - Happy Trails
This is another of those "dog gone" split fairway deals that definitely cuts a lot of yards off the hole by playing to the narrow left fairway. From there some very strong and adventuresome golfers can get home in two. Everyone else must play out to the right, while avoiding the fairway with a great chip shot. This green falls to the front and towards the creek, so play a little pitch and run shot, high and to the right and let gravity help you get it close. You just mastered "Oh, my goodness corner".
#18 - Dakota
Don't celebrate your career round yet, for this last hole can be a heart breaker. Aim your drive to just miss the left side bunkers and you will have a middle distance approach to the green. This is not an easy approach but there are no hazards once you get by those nasty looking front ones. So being long is much better than a foot or two short.