The Invitation to Whitefish Lodge, Montana
Ryan Billet, Senior Sales Manager from Averill Hospitality graciously invited me and other golf tour operators to experience Montana Golf. Not having ever been to Whitefish before, and always seeking new golf destinations for prospective guests, I decided to take Ryan up on his offer and see what’s all the fuss about Montana Golf. After a bit of personal research on the area, specifically The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, local golf courses, Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park, I was all in for the adventure!
I flew from Milwaukee to Salt Lake City and then boarded a short flight into Kalispell. My excitement was building as I could see from the plane, the glacier-capped peaks and lakes dotting the landscape. Since our first tee-time wasn’t until our second day, we decided to rent a jazzy red jeep wrangler to tour Glacier National Park. How fitting that red is my favorite color and I was sporting a red jacket.
We were on a mission to scope out as much as we could at the park taking in turquoise lakes in Glacier National Park. Before we set out walking in the park, we first stopped to visit with the ranger. The Park Ranger gave us tips and told us that while bear sightings are common, they generally don’t get spooked unless they are protecting their young. Did you know Montana has the largest grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states. Needless to say, we were on the outlook for bears. So, we’re off on our trek.
We started at Lake McDonald to see the multi-colored pebble shores that surround the lake and clear waters reflective of the snow-covered peaks. Unfortunately, it started raining, so we didn’t get to hike back to one of the most picturesque lakes on the Trail of the Cedars, Avalanche Lake, but we were able to do a short walk back to the other worldly aqua-colored Avalanche Falls below Sperry Glacier. The intense aqua color was described to us like “Glacier Freeze Gatorade”, and for good reason: the lakes and falls in Glacier National Park are fed by minerals from the glaciers creating the intense colored water. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier National Park is a hiker’s paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude. Glacier’s pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes is a great diversion for the visiting golfer.
Later that day we checked into the Lodge at Whitefish Lake for a quick rest and then headed into quaint-downtown Whitefish, a booming and cultural hotspot. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Tupelo Grille, and enjoyed the southern inspired menu of Montana’s famous offerings —Elk meatloaf sliders and shrimp and crawfish cakes.
The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, a 4 diamond resort, inspired by lodges of the past, graced with the conveniences of the present, offers a warm and cozy Montana feel adding to a memorable travel experience. Surrounded by mountains from Glacier National Park and the pristine waters of Whitefish Lake, and the close proximity to numerous courses, The Lodge provides a perfect location to host a golf group Northwest Montana.
With outstanding service and deluxe accommodations, you will be able to enjoy all that Whitefish and northwest Montana have to offer. The Lodge is only minutes from downtown Whitefish and less than a 30-minute drive to the scenic wonders of Glacier National Park.
We met at The Boat Club Restaurant at The Lodge for a delicious breakfast. Huck L. Beary, the Chief Executive Bear, stands poised to welcome (or scare) people in front of the guest check in after all Montana is home to majestic mountains, big skies, lots of bears and everything huckleberry.
Now off for our first tee time of the trip at The South Course at Whitefish Lake Golf Club. The club has a north and south course, the only 36-hole course in Whitefish overlooking Whitefish Lake with spectacular vistas of Big Mountain. A variety of tees provides the beginner and the experienced player choices and plenty of challenges as they make their way around the courses.
It wasn’t a stretch to say it was a very brisk day for golf. Layering up was the attire of the day. Where hunting is a way of life in Montana, I decided to dress the part by purchasing a camouflage vest and layering up further.
The Spa at Whitefish Lodge was welcoming with a co-ed steam room, and a full menu of spa services including massage, body wraps and scrubs, facials, waxing, and nails. The rustic lodge feel goes throughout the resort, well-appointed with fireplaces in each room, robe and slippers, a kitchenette, and a stuffed bear on the bed. Amenities include outdoor fire pits and complimentary s’mores each night. The lodge offers an outdoor pool and hot tub as well as an indoor pool and water fall for year-round access. Great amenities for the golfer!
Later this evening, we were kindly hosted by members of the Northwest Montana Golf Association, Grouse Mountain Lodge, Buffalo Hill GC, Whitefish Lake GC, Northern Pines GC, Meadow Lake Resort, and Wild Horse Limousine at The Firebrand Hotel. We then traveled onto Logan’s Bar and Grill at the Grouse Mountain Lodge that offered local bison and trout.
(K.Borgardt, S.Dunfee, B.Gutstadt,T,Olson, R.Billett, J.Fagan)
Even though we had an early afternoon flight, we still had time to play the first nine at Meadow Lake Golf Course with Ryan. The course offered even more beautiful views and a few very challenging water hazards. Next trip to Montana, I’d like to play the 27-hole Buffalo Hill Golf Club and Glacier View Golf Course to experience the different challenges and views each course offers. All courses enjoyed the rugged back-drop beauty of Glacier National Park. Given the wildlife of Montana, it’s possible to see elk, deer, eagles and sometimes even bears on the courses. Golf Digest named Northwest Montana one of the world’s top 50 golf course destinations. Golf Digest’s declaration was no surprise to me once I personally experienced the outstanding quality and affordability of Montana’s golf courses.
So what’s all the fuss about “Montana Golf”…. The pictures tell it all…….A warm rustic lodge, scenic snow-capped mountain golf courses, great food, huckleberry galore, friendly locals and close proximity to the Canadian border, makes this golf destination a place to put on any golfer’s bucket list. Northwest Montana is a true gem in what seems like the middle of nowhere. It has all the dreams of cowboys and horses, while surprising you with an entirely new culture, food revolution and unbelievably scenic golf courses. Take a ride on the wild side and find time to traveland play golf in Montana.
Thank you Ryan and team for hosting me. I look forward to promoting Montana as a desirable golf destination to our clients and to the golf industry as a whole. Let’s touch base and chat about how I can assist you further in promoting Montana. Steve was very interested also in Women’s Golf Day to promote lady golfers too.
I’ll be traveling extensively from September 5 up through the end October (Scotland, Spain, India, Palm Springs, and Morrocco). Yikes! I just made myself exhausted . 🙂 . Know you have a forever- friend in the industry.
Barbara Gutstadt, CEO