An Emerald Among Sapphires 14

Missoula country club Offers a Home Away From Home

Nearly 100 years ago, Drs. E. W. Spottswood and J. P. Rowe saw more than “rocky, dry land” on the grounds of what became the Missoula Country Club’s first nine-hole golf course. They recognized an opportunity to bring golf to the hub of five valleys.

“The golf course is considered one of the finest in the state,” says Chris Nowlen, the MCC’s general manager.

Today, members enjoy the sounds of golf carts as they transport golfers between beautifully manicured holes and of drives (hopefully) straight down 18 tight fairways to lush greens.

“The course has a traditional design—tight fairways, big trees, years of maturing, great turf condition with vivid green-colored grass and beautiful flower beds and shrubbery. The greens have a history of being fast and firm,” he says.

But during those early years, golfers found themselves putting on oiled sand greens and forming their own “tees” with sand and water from a bucket on the tee box and sculpting them into a small mound where their golf ball would rest before being whacked across the fairway.

“Sand greens were common in the northern states for many years because of the seasonality of golf courses, and it was inexpensive,” says Nowlen. “Players would rake the path for their putt prior to playing their shot.”

Over the years, the country club has moved and ownership, leasing agreements and the scenery have changed, but the dedication of volunteers and members and the drive of golf enthusiasts ensure that the Missoula Country Club is keeping up with the times. A key part of that has been focusing its programs on women’s and junior golf and getting the public involved and interested in golf through MCC’s community involvement as host and sponsor of tournaments, scrambles and event fundraisers.

He says there has been an increased interest in Missoula Country Club’s junior programs and on the part of couples. Couples golf, according to Nowlen, is very hot right now.

“It is important to make women feel comfortable and confident in the club,” he says. “Our club and our PGA professional staff promote women’s golf currently through four programs weekly, plus we have a thriving couples league. Ladies’ golf and junior golf are the key to happy members. Engaging the man of the family with golf is easy. Winning over the family is the trick.”

And, winning over the family is central to MCC’s offering a comprehensive experience to the entire family.

MCC regularly hosts the University of Montana Women’s Golf Team and offers youth golf programs such as the Connor Sproull Golf Academy to help young golfers develop and hone their skills. Sproull, who is the country club’s head golf professional, currently runs the Missoula Junior Tour, and MCC is a participating facility in the national PGA Junior League.

Although MCC is a private club for members and guests, MCC hosts a number of public events, notably for community non-profit organizations like the Community Medical Center Foundation, the Red Coats and Missoula Chamber of Commerce, and the Round Ball for the University of Montana Men’s Basketball Scholarship Fund.

“MCC is heavily involved in the community, hosting several tournaments, scrambles and event fundraisers to raise money for area high school golf programs and nonprofits and sponsoring community events,” Sprout says.

The MCC experience is not just felt on the golf course.

It also features a 25-yard swimming pool, a perfect place to take a dip after 18 holes or your family this summer; a kiddie pool for members with young children; and several places to be wined and dined, including a poolside bar. The clubhouse bar, open year-round, serves craft beers, exquisite wine, mixed drinks and delicious eats with a pub-style feel, and the lounge offers amazing views of the 18th green.

“Our pool facility adds to our offering for the whole family with poolside dinner and beverage service, including our full bar offering,” Nowlen says. “MCC has an incredible chef and staff. We serve certified Angus beef, which ensures we are starting with the premium product. Our menu offers a variety of items that range from simple grill food to fantastic dinner plates. We serve a great variety of items and have many great chef choice specials each week.”

MCC wants to be that home away from home since it’s not possible to call it your official residence.

“Unfortunately, we aren’t a community. There are no homes on MCC,” Nowlen says. “That is part of the beauty as well. Behind the hedge is a slice of heaven. The lush course and the quiet, serene nature are unique. The early morning experience into the afternoon and evening group play is unmatched.”

This century-old country club delivers an unrivaled experience to its members, providing them with a stunning and tranquil sanctuary away from the city’s hustle and bustle.

“My favorite part of MCC is the experience,” he says. “You can feel the tradition and history as soon as you arrive.”

The Missoula Country Club certainly is a polished emerald nestled among Sapphires.

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