Box Elder Creek Course Detail
This review is written from the blue tees, which play at 6326 yards. This is a good length for bogey golfers. There is some challenge on a few of the longer holes, but most of the par 4s are less than 400 yards. The course rewards you for staying in the fairway, and if you have reasonable control with your mid-irons, you should be in pretty good shape.
The opening hole is pretty benign, at only 369 yards. The important thing to remember as you're teeing off is not to line up at the flag, which is clearly visible. The hole actually is meant to be played as a dogleg right. The dogleg goes around a natural area, at exactly the distance where your drive will come down. There's enough room to hit your driver if you're so disposed, just remember to line up to the left toward the 150 marker in the fairway. It's easier to come into the green from the left side of the fairway because of a bunker guarding the front right. Easy bogey, and a decent chance for par if your approach is accurate.
The second hole is a short (500 yards) par 5. The fairway is a bit narrower than the first hole, and there's another natural area on the right, not to mention a fairway bunker on the right. Use a club that will go straight for you. Two 180 yard shots will leave you only 140 yards coming into the green. No need to stress out over length here. Big hitters can reach this in two, but only if they stay out of the rough.
Hole #3 is another 369 yard par 4. There are a couple of trees guarding the rough on the right. Like #1, there's room for your driver, but no real need for it. Hit a club that will stay in the fairway, and there's another decent chance for par.
The fourth hole is a longish par 3 at 194 yards. Check the yardage markers, because there's a good 20 yards of leeway. Also pay attention to the prevailing breeze. Out on the prairie, the winds can have a big effect on your tee shots on these par threes. This green is pretty large, and has a lot of slope from back to front. Try not to get above the hole.
The fifth hole is a really short par 5, at 465 yards. I've played this course twice now, and both times I've played this hole wrong. Here's the right way: Do not hit your driver off the tee. All you want from your tee shot is to be 100% certain of landing in the fairway (which by the way is plenty wide) -- anywhere in the fairway. On your second shot, and this is important, go to the left side of the fairway. The reason is that there's a pond and a swamp on the right side of the fairway, immediately in front of the green, which wraps in behind all the junk. From the left side, the approach shot is pretty straightforward. From the right side, it's nothing but trouble. Do what I say, not what I do!
The sixth hole is a tremendous challenge. It's a long par 4, up a very steep hill. There's a bunker smack in the middle of the fairway. It actually makes a pretty good target. If you hit too far left, it's OB, and too far right is in the junk. If you land in the sand trap because the shot didn't bend one way or the other, well, sorry about that! The second shot you will need to take one extra club. I wouldn't advise two extra clubs because being long is horrible (you kick off the burm behind and launch into the sunflowers). If you're not far enough off the tee to reach the green in two, relax and lay up. Bogey is a really good score on this hole, and there's no need to make it worse!
#7 lets you tee off from the top of a cliff. There are two schools of thought here. Because of the height, you're going to get an extra 10-20 yards of carry. If you hit a comfortable 200 yard shot, you should come down around the 150 yard marker for a short iron into the green. If you hit a monster drive, then you have an easy sand wedge into the green, provided you don't hit it so good you reach the pond in front of the green. Whichever approach you take, stay in the swing and don't let it slice into the rough on the right. Once you reach the green, the undulations are subtle, and hard to read. Look at the putt from several angles before you line up.
The eighth is a gorgeous par 3 nestled up against the cliff you teed off from on #7. Lots of bunkers on the left, so the best miss is short and right.
The ninth is another elevated tee shot. There's a sand draw that runs down the entire left side of the fairway to keep you from lining up at the flag. The best advice is to line up at the 150 marker, and hit a 200 yard shot. Hitting the driver here is difficult because you don't know what line to pick at the fairway which angles right to left in toward the green.
The tenth hole sets up to look narrower than it really is, plus there's a big power line drooping across the middle of the fairway. A big burm on the right tries to protect you from hitting out of bounds. The second shot is uphill into a green that's surrounded by burms. The burms on the second shot are way more intimidating than the burms on the first shot. Hitting a long iron into the green is no fun. If you've been hitting your driver well, use it here, and try to line up for the left side of the fairway. If you haven't been hitting your driver well, play this as a short par 5 -- hit a five iron, and then a nine iron, and then whatever wedge or short iron finishes the approach in to the green. Bogey's a good score here, and you want to be inside of 140 on your approach shot.
#11 is a 176 yard par 3. There are traps on the left, and a burm on the right (don't get over the burm!). Laying up and chipping on is a pretty good strategy. The green is long and narrow, so missing wide always leaves a difficult chip onto the green.
Number 12 is another short par 5. This hole plays pretty easy if you keep it in play off the tee. Length is not too important. Hit three decent shots in a row, and there's a chance to make par or even birdie here.
Number 13 is another scoring opportunity. At 292 yards, big hitters can drive the green. However, you have to be willing to tee off over the junk. If you don't think you've got a 300 yard carry, just hit two eight irons. The hole is basically triangular in shape, with a severe dogleg right. The green has a big ridge in the middle of it, so pay attnetion to the pin placement. If you wind up on the wrong end of the green, you can let the par opportunity slip away with a three-putt.
Number 14, another hole with a power line across the fairway, places a premium on accuracy off the tee. The fairway slopes right to left, and a huge bank on the left side feeds into the junk. So if you hit a shot that curves right to left (hook for a rightie, slice for a lefty), there's a good chance it's going to kick out of play. The hole also doglegs left, so if you get too far right, you add some distance to your second shot, but that's obviously preferable to losing your ball. Try to stay on the right side of the fairway for the best angle in to the green. (There's also some trouble in front of the green on the left.
Those curious creatures in the little pen by the 15th tee are emus (I think) -- they're related to ostriches. They provide an interesting diversion as you contemplate your next tee shot. This is the third hole on the back with a powerline across the fairway. This one is actually in play (at least, I've seen someone hit it). The scorecard doesn't mention a local rule -- you might want to agree with your foursome ahead of time if you're going to play it as it lies, or re-tee in the unlikely event of hitting the powerline. This hole is another sharp dogleg left. If you use your driver, stay to the left side of the fairway to give yourself a little more room for the ball to run as it comes down. The green is pretty benign.
#16 is a short but tricky par 3. It's only 145 yards, but there's lots of trouble to be had up around the green. Also, even if you're skillful enough to land on the green, the undulations are hard to read. The hole is handicapped as the easiest on the course, but don't get complacent!
#17 is a short par 4 at 330 yards. Hit a mid iron off the tee, and a short iron in to the green. Nothing fancy. It's a scoring opportunity, but don't get greedy!
The finishing hole is a 599 yard par 6, which makes you earn that post-round refreshment. With a hole this long, you really want to hit your driver off the tee. However, if you're not hitting it straight, the rough will penalize you worse than the distance. It's still important to keep it in play. Your second shot needs to clear a creek that crosses the fairway. Make sure you take plenty of club. There's yet another overhead powerline that looks like it might interfere, but that's an optical illusion -- ignore it! Bogey is a good score on this hole because of the length.
I really like this course. It gives the bogey golfer some chances to feel good, but it also teaches you good habits (keep it in the fairway, watch the speed on your putts, think about your most likely miss). There are a few long holes that make you stretch your abilities, but you don't have to be Vijay Singh to have a good time. Lots of different shots, lots of interesting scenery, friendly staff -- lots of fun for golfers of all abilities.