North Dakota is not usually thought of as a golfing Mecca. And while it is true the state has a population south of a million and only around 100 golf courses, because of the unique nature of North Dakota’s…uh…nature, some of those courses are really quite exceptional.
Geographically speaking, the state is massive, and with that much space comes a variety of landforms and natural habitats that are so conducive to making golf courses awesome. Here are five North Dakota golf courses you need to play.
The Links of North Dakota (Best Public Course) in Ray, ND
The terrain can be rough in North Dakota, and that rugged landscape is on display at The Links of North Dakota. Throughout the course the brown grasses native to the area encroach on the fairways and make the course feel particularly narrow.
The front nine begins with a slightly down hill par four that is punctuated by a green that gently tilts away from you. On two, a litany of bunkers block an easy approach to the green and throughout the remainder of the course the themes of well placed sand traps and tight fairways are continued to great effect.
The course is just under 7100 yards from the tips and is a par 72.
The great news about The Links of North Dakota is that it is open to the public. In many states the top course is private and playing a round there is next to impossible. Not so at The Links. During the peak season if you have $75 you can play 18 holes walking. The price goes down to $55 in the short offseason.
Fargo Country Club (Best Private Course) in Fargo, ND
Built next to the winding Red River, Fargo Country Club is the premier private golf course in the state. Because the course is located in the lush Red River valley it is populated with towering trees and in many places the layout of the holes follow the flow of the river.
The contoured fairways are crisp and quick and so are the greens. On numerous occasions sloping greens emphasize the importance of keeping the ball below the hole. The 542 yard par 5 5th is your best chance to birdie and is a welcome reprieve after the long 213 yard par 3 4th which has a razor thin margin of error.
The deep green hues of the course are beautiful and the course is always well maintained. Fargo Country Club is 6971 yards long from the championship tees and is a par 72.
Because the course is private you can only play as a guest at the invitation of a member.
Hawktree Golf Course (Most Scenic Course) in Bismarck, ND
Located in Bismark, the capital of North Dakota, Hawktree Golf Course is perhaps the most scenic golf course in the state. What makes the course so spectacular is the way the course makes use of the natural landscape. The course is also quaint with windmills and majestic views of the rolling, sprawling North Dakotan countryside.
Accuracy is important, especially the par 5 7th where a large water hazard on this sharp dogleg right is in play both on the fairway and as you approach the green. The wide open feel of the course is deceptive as it can be hard to distinguish between the short and tall grasses of the fairway and the rough. Don’t get too confident or Hawktree with punish you.
From the Falcon tees (blacks) the course measures 7085 yards long and is a par 72.
A course of this caliber isn’t played for free, however, and that is certainly the case with Hawktree. A round of 18 walking in the offseason is $55 and will cost you $80 in the summer.
Bully Pulpit Golf Course (Most Challenging Course) in Medora, ND
Named in honor of the wilderness loving 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, Bully Pulpit Golf Course really can feel like a bully at times. The course would easily qualify for the honors of most scenic if it also wasn’t so demanding.
Particularly challenging is the bad lands stretch of 14, 15, and 16, where the infamous bad lands landscape surround the course. Giant rock formations are just to the right and back of the green on 14 and butt up against the fairway in several other places as well.
The course is 7166 yards long from the blacks and is a regulation par 72. It has a course rating of 75.4 and a slope rating of 133.
The price for a course this good and this hard isn’t cheap, however. In the offseason a round of 18 walking is $85 and in the summer it bumps up to $105.
Riverwood Golf Course (Best Deal) in Bismarck, ND
Riverwood Golf Course is a municipal course operated by the city of Bismarck in the interior of the state. While most municipal courses can be a bit dingy, that is not the case with Riverwood. The course offers high quality golf at a very reasonable rate.
The course features lush, think rough and well kept fairways and greens. The tree-lined fairways give the impression that the course was carved out of a forest.
The course requires supreme accuracy and shot shaping abilities as trees come into play on nearly every shot.
The course is 7069 yards long from the blacks and is a regulation par 72.
The best thing about Riverwood, though, is the cost. A round of 18 walking is only $22.
Golf North Dakota
You won’t find the same caliber of courses in North Dakota that you might find elsewhere in the midwest, but if you are willing to travel a little farther afield, there is excellent golf to be had in the state. And if you’re up for unique layouts and landforms, Bully Pulpit and Hawktree are real gems that provide an experience you can’t get anywhere else. Happy golfing.
Did we miss a course? In the comments below, share your North Dakota golfing experience.