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Amidst the buttes, a course worth trying to solve

MEDORA -- We were somewhere around hole No. 15 when the Bully Mary, complete with a Bully Pulpit souvenir cup, started to kick in. Or, more likely--and less Hunter S. Thompson-esque--it was probably just the 150-or-so-foot-ravine directly below u...

Dickinson Press sports reporter Samuel Evers hits a shot from the fairway on Saturday at Bully Pulpit Golf Course. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson Press sports reporter Samuel Evers hits a shot from the fairway on Saturday at Bully Pulpit Golf Course. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

MEDORA - We were somewhere around hole No. 15 when the Bully Mary, complete with a Bully Pulpit souvenir cup, started to kick in.

Or, more likely-and less Hunter S. Thompson-esque-it was probably just the 150-or-so-foot-ravine directly below us that had my knees wobbling.

Evidently, the rumors were true.

No. 15, the signature hole at the Bully Pulpit Golf Course in Medora, was missing a middle. There was the grass to tee off on, followed by a gap in buttes (the aforementioned revine), and 134 yards away, the flag. To get from A to B, we had to guide our reliable little golf cart to the right, around the bend and between two drops.

The Bully Mary was strong, though.

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"Believe me," said Parker Cotton, Press sports editor by week and amateur golfing pal by weekend, as we ascended. "It only gets higher from here."

Well, well.

There I was, booted from my high school golf team as a junior for parlaying my lack of skill into a free pass to a local pitch and putt course, staring at perhaps the best par 3 in the country.

What a treat. Not bad for an urbanite from Massachusetts.

The way I saw it, we had two options.

Cut our losses and take a drop on the other side-thus saving our rapidly diminishing supply of golf balls-or throw caution to the wind (or hail), and fire this thing up.

I was first up, a sliced shot from the ol' reliable 6-iron. It went tumbling down the gap and into the abyss. It was Medora's now.

Next Parker, him using his driver looking thing, same result. His ball catapults to the right, sailing off into the heavens and out of our sight.

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OK, time to get serious. Lose the jacket. Sip the Bully. A few more practice hacks.

There she goes. Another lost. On to the drop area.

Despite what our final score cards might gossip, all goes well for the next couple of swings.

A shank here, a drop there, until we're plodding through No. 16.

Then comes the hail, and lots of it. Little pebbles of ice that lose their mystique as soon as they start to sting.

The cart provides only minimal blockage-it'll have to do. We alternate between cart and shot, perhaps a little bit rushed.

It wasn't my best performance.

"Should we settle on six strokes for both us?" I wager.

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Noted.

The day winds down on No. 18, a flag invisible from the tee off spot, wrapping to the left.

If and when you make it that far, you find an elevated green about 20 feet high.

Swell.

All I can do is laugh at the par 4 marker.

A tally in the vicinity of six strokes ends my day, a 105 for me, a 110 for Parker, give or take a few dozen strokes.

About four hours gone with the wind, the hail, the rain. Only the snow was missing.

The weather wanted to be nice, but it could hardly resist its good-for-nothing tendencies.

We could count on the course, though.

Meandering buttes of the Badlands, arcing and diving in the distance-the backdrop only a national park could offer.

The wandering eye might forget to stay alert for shanked golf balls.

And there were plenty of them, at least from us.

On a decidedly undecided day of weather in mid-April, the pulse of the golf course was waltzing along at a snail's pace. The population of this little tourist town had yet to swell.

There were two things we were thankful for on that Saturday; the unabashed beauty of the course, and the fact that no one was playing behind us.

"It's a really special place," said Casey Moen, head golf professional at the course. "It's a pretty unique office to have."

You don't say.

Related Topics: MEDORAGOLF
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