Designed by architect Ron Farris and opened for public play in 2003, the Golf Club at Red Rock golf course lies on the edge of the Black Hills National Forest, near the historic mining town of Rapid City.
Reputed to be the only course in South Dakota that remains open for play during every month of the year, the layout measures between a manageable 5,032 yards and a monster 7,114 yards (attracting a 138 slope rating), with multiple tee placements on every hole.
Rolling fairways are routed into, out of and over a series of canyons that occupy the dramatic landscape. Apart from a few small creeks, the only real water hazard of note is the pond that protects the front left side of the green on the par four 10th.
The dramatic elevation changes of the fescue fringed fairways, the degree of difficulty presented by the links-style bunkers and the challenge of the undulating USGA-spec greens presents golfers with a truly exhilarating Black Hills golf experience.
Feature holes at Red Rock include the par five 2nd – rated stroke index 1 – and the left doglegged par four 4th. On the back nine, the 155-yard 12th and 214-yard 15th offer contrasting tee length challenges from the back tee positions.
The Golf Club at Red Rock has a little bit of everything, except water hazards. The first hole is a welcoming downhill par four. Depending upon your tees the fairway bunker short of the green may be in play. It gets a little spicier on the par 5 dogleg left uphill 2nd. Definitely, a 3 shotter. For your second shot I would suggest favoring the right side of the fairway. What you see is not what you get on the slightly uphill par 4 3rd. There is a ravine about 130 yards out, it is possible, but not probable for a monster drive to reach it. The downhill dogleg left 4th is a penthouse or outhouse hole. It is tempting and doable to cut the corner to set up a flip wedge. However, there is not a large margin for error. A wee bit too far left and you will be looking at double bogey. Conversely, you could lay back and give yourself a 150 yard approach to a difficult green complex that does not hold well. Actually, that applies to just about all the green complexes. Lots of undulation without a lot of hold. The downhill par 3 6th looks easy on the card. There is a ridge that bisects the green about 1/3 of the way. The pin was just tucked over it. We escaped with 3 3 putts. There is also a pot bunker way right. Can’t be a lot of fun when the pin is over there. The 6th is a beast, the only good thing about it is the 7th is a driveable par 4. Favor the right off the tee as just about everything will go left. The 8th is almost a dogleg left par 3. To have a chance your tee shot needs to be short and well right of the flag. The front closes with a reachable par 5. Ideal tee shot is favoring the right side. This green is nestled below a knoll with a few moguls in front and bunkers right. One of our group went for it and did not hit it well. It barely crested the knoll and started trundling down the hill. Several times I thought it would stop. When it did, it was over the green, probably rolled 50-60 yards.
The dogleg left 10th has the only real water hazard protecting the green on the front and left. This hole also contours significantly left. The par 4 11th is straight forward and non-memorable. The 12th is the shortest par three, but it probably has the trickiest green. The 13th is an uphill par 4 dogleg right. Take an extra club on your approach. The green is perched on a ledge and protected by several bunkers. The long par 5 14th is the number one handicap hole. Your drive should favor the right and hopefully reach the top of the hill. Your second shot must be right or you are dead. Another elevated green that is well protected by bunkers. The 15th is a downhill par 3. The 16th is an uphill and then downhill par 5 dogleg left that is reachable. Off the tee be left of the fairway bunkers to give yourself a chance. On your 2nd shot and approach left is NG. The 17th and 18th run parallel. The 18th is longer and tougher. Disappointing finishing holes.
Overall a good course, but felt tricked up. Green complexes real challenging. I imagine if you play it enough you will get a feel where to be.
For those making the trek to visit Mount Rushmore it pays to stop off at nearby Red Rock. Designed by Ron Farris -- he worked initially for Pete Dye when Long Cove was constructed -- the layout is on hilly terrain and Farris has done well with the inclusion of a number of fun holes. The holes are framed well -- despite the nearby housing -- and the routing does provide plenty of shot differentiations to keep things interesting. Given the limited number of quality options in South Dakota -- Red Rock is clearly one to savor when there.
by M. James Ward