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Known for mining and very big skies, Montana’s natural beauty knows no bounds. Where there’s natural beauty, there’s bound to be a golf course… or a slew of them. Just as the mining brought treasure, there are gems to be found and played in Montana’s golf courses.

Picks in Billings include the Yellowstone Country Club, a 7,121 yard par 72 course. Rated at 73, this 1957 Robert Trent Jones model’s slope rating is 131 on Blue grass. This private equity (member-owned) club also offers a pool and tennis courts, as well as both casual and fine dining. Picturesque rimrock backgrounds make a postcard of several of the tees. Their hospitality helps put them on our map.

For a public course in Billings, check out EagleRock Golf Course. This golf course offers many of the facilities of a private club, such as a clubhouse bar, instruction, food and beverages. Though it’s a young club, it’s already host to a number of tournaments and events, and has earned a senator’s attention.

The number one public access course in the state happens to be one of the most unusual and impressive courses in the country. It earns #3 in the state, and a spot in the top 100 of the nation. What makes Old Works exceptional is the masterful way that Jack Nicklaus worked the artifacts into his design. This course has an extraordinary history. Originally Anaconda's century old copper smelting operations; it then became a Superfund clean-up site for the Federal EPA. The course opened in May of 1997, after some 2 years and 600,000 cubic yards of soil were put in. An ecological masterpiece as well, this course’s construction took on several aspects of watershed control. Amongst the many things that make this a unique environment are the black slag bunkers. Heavier than white sand, you’ll seldom find yourself buried in one of these. Nicklaus worked the natural and historical elements into this rare design beautifully. The hospitable staff and low costs make this course a bargain worth hunting.

Not to be forgotten is Eagle Bend Golf Club. A 27-hole championship course on the north side of Flathead Lake, it ranks in the top 50 in the United States. The original course design was performed by William Hull, Jr. In 1995 Nicklaus Design added 9 challenging holes with spectacular views of Flathead Lake, the Swan Mountains, and Glacier National Park.

Just a couple miles away from Eagle Bend is Big Mountain Golf Club. Andy North and Roger Packard teamed up to design a multi-theme course offering an unusual combination of Scottish Links golf and more traditional U.S styling. Picturesque rolling fairways and native grasses are lodged between Ponderosa pines, running along the shores of Stillwater River. At 7,015-yards, this par 72 design ranks 12th out of the 50 best under $50, according to Golf Magazine.

Is a golf vacation in Montana a great bargain, or a steal? You can decide that for yourself while you enjoy the beauty and crisp fresh air of Big Sky country.