Golf Course Industry Magazine

Big Sky, Short Season

Elevated play numbers, large critters and plenty of snow: How a pair of facilities in a mountainous Montana region fared during the 2020 golf season.

…Lone Mountain Land Co., owner of Big Sky member community clubs Spanish Peaks and The Reserve at Moonlight Basin, saw summer membership arriving from across the country, with folks seeking enhanced Montana time during the COVID-19 summer. “Most of our members are coming from bigger cities, whether that be Chicago, down South or coming from L.A.,” says Nick Berasi, head golf professional at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin.

And it’s not just the regulars seeking more elbow room amid the times of pandemic.

“Hearing from my real estate colleagues, they anticipated a slow season — now, they’re experiencing record sales,” Berasi says. “It’s booming.”

More sales equaled more stay equaled more play equaled more expectations for Berasi and Moonlight’s grounds team. The Jack Nicklaus-designed beauty of a beast at 8,000 yards from the tips and situated across the elevated grandeur of better than 800 acres of mountain terrain is no task for the timid — whether playing or maintaining the turf.

“Mother Nature and elevation dictate our course practices,” Berasi says. “Getting ready for a long winter at over 7,200 feet, it limits the amount of time for our season. Even though the summers are beautiful, we are working with a compacted time frame.”

Such compact sees around three-and-a-half months of golf. Rare — if ever — is there a play day to spare.