Imagine teeing off from a butte, the rugged yet beautiful Badlands as your backdrop. Or picture yourself staring down a green from 210 yards out along the shores of one of the largest man-made lakes in the nation. Maybe it's taking a sand wedge and blasting your shot through black coal slag bunkers.
Each and every shot is possible in North Dakota. The state has more than 100 nine- and 18-hole golf courses, more per capita than any other state. Golf Digest's November 2002 issue includes a feature on "The Best Little Golf Towns in America." Bismarck ranked No. 29, Grand Forks No. 71 and Fargo No. 87 of the 314 cities included in the survey.
If you're looking for a golf course that offers more than just a day on the links, consider a trip to Bully Pulpit Golf Course, an 18-hole golf course three miles south of Medora. Set in the dramatic North Dakota Badlands landscape, the course features five different tees, ranging in length from a comfortable 5,000 total yards from the forward tees to a challenging 7,300 yards at the tips.
Not only can you play 18 holes with a beautiful back drop, but there are plenty of other things to do in the area. Visitors can fill their itinerary with a stop in historic Medora. Founded by a French aristocrat, Medora boasts a 26-room chateau overlooking a walkable town of shops, cafes, museums and an outdoor amphitheater with evening performances of the Medora Musical. The musical is staged in the modern Burning Hills Amphitheater. Set into a canyon, the amphitheater offers a spectacular view of the Badlands. Drawing over 100,000 people, the musical is North Dakota's biggest summer event.
You can also take a tour through Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The 70,000-acre park and its rugged topography honor Theodore Roosevelt, who ranched in the Badlands and later established the national park system.
The park is separated into two large units. The South Unit has a 36-mile scenic loop that takes you past coal veins, prairie dog towns and panoramic views of the Badlands. Next to the Visitor Center is Roosevelt's Maltese Cross Ranch cabin. The North Unit has a 14-mile loop that takes you to the much-photographed Oxbow Overlook.
For a unique, historic twist, golfers can follow the Lewis & Clark Trail through North Dakota. The golf trail retraces the route of the 19th Century explorers along the Missouri River, identifying 20 golf courses near the trail.