MEDORA—Though some small remnants of winter still remain next to the greens, the staff at Bully Pulpit Golf Course in Medora are ready for the first tee-off of the season next month.
Although Bully Pulpit will open for play on April 11, weather permitting, Head Professional Casey Moen said people are already calling the clubhouse to set up their summer tee times as they plan visits to the small North Dakota town.
"We got a call from California (Tuesday morning) booking a tee time already," Moen said. "They're planning their summer trip. It's kind of fun to have the Badlands and the national park and the musical to feed off that. They're not only coming for just (the musical) but for the golf too."
Moen said the course's peak season runs from about June 1 through Sept. 10, which coincides with the Medora Musical performances.
This year the course is offering a "vacation golf school," which will allow people to take any type of lesson they would like for two hours. The program is open to golfers of all ages and experience levels who are also using the "stay and play package." The lesson can focus on various aspects of the game from putting and chipping to improving their swing off the tee.
"Whatever the guest wants," Moen said. "... We'll kind of just pick apart each golf swing and whatever they choose to work on. It can be super flexible depending on how good you are, like if you're a beginner or kids or adults or couples."
The course is also offering a Bully Pulpit Players Card. For $150, card holders can enjoy seven free rounds in both April and October. People may pick the dates during those months and then the shop will help make the tee times. In addition, card holders also get discounts on regular green fees, a complimentary shared golf cart and a free small bucket of warm-up balls every time they play.
The course was recently ranked one of America's Top 100 Public Golf Courses by Golf Digest. In 2015, the course saw more than 19,000 rounds played. Moen said being in various golf publications is definitely a plus.
"People from all over the country want to play every state at least once," he said. "When our name is on the top of that list (for North Dakota), it becomes a bit of bucket-lister. I think the scenery kind of speaks for itself too, and they want to play something that they won't soon forget, which is kind of easy for us."
Moen is originally from western Montana and had an internship at Bully Pulpit in 2011. He eventually came back to North Dakota and the course in October 2012.
Kathy Solga, the golf shop manager at Bully Pulpit, has been at the course since the beginning—when the course was being built and seeded.
"I was here when it didn't even have grass," she said with a chuckle.
The course will host approximately 30 tournaments throughout the season, some of which Solga said have been in place since the golf course opened.
"It's just always fun to see those familiar faces," she said. "You get to have some pretty good relationships and develop really good relationships with those folks. ... We have one of our first ones in May, and we're going to have people from all over the country. ... Just to know that those are up-and-coming events is just exciting."
They will also be hosting a Dakota Junior Golf event in late June and the Rod Tjaden Memorial Golf tournament, which is an invite-only tournament with all proceeds going to the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation employee scholarship fund. In past years, more than $30,000 has been raised.
They will also host the Dickinson State University spring meet just around the opening of the course and the NAIA North Star Conference tournament toward the end of September.
Solga said her favorite part of her job is the people that she gets to meet.
"Whether it be that guest that keeps returning or the local guys, it's just so fun to see them all," she said.