Opened in 2007, The Club at Spanish Peaks was rescued from a bankruptcy filing in 2011, reappearing stronger than ever after a two-year shutdown. And from the summer of 2021, residents of the new on-site Montage Hotel can book a tee time here so the course can now be enjoyed by an ever-increasing number of golfers.
Situated less than a couple of miles north of Yellowstone Club, another Tom Weiskopf design in the Big Sky region of Montana, the course lies at an altitude of 7,000 feet above sea level, offering 360-degree vistas from just about every fairway of heavily forested terrain and mountain peaks.
Feature holes include the 442-yard 5th (where the approach requires a carry over a small gully), and the 536-yard 7th, which heads uphill to a semi-blind green. On the back nine, the 180-yard 15th is a thrilling downhill par three played over water to the green, with the obligatory Weiskopf short par four hole appearing at the 335-yard 17th.
Successful architects are often sought by developers because of earlier designs that have received plaudits.
Although past success can be the means to secure future work the main drawback is that meaningful originality can be sacrificed on the altar of future projects bearing the stamp of assembly line creations.
I opined previously on The Yellowstone Club and the Tom Weiskopf / Phil Smith design. The course accentuates playability bolstered via superb turf conditions. The layout also gets a boost from gorgeous off-course scenery magnifying the Big Sky country of Montana. There are a few holes of note but there are also pedestrian ones mixed within. In the pantheon of Weiskopf courses -- the former PGA Tour star player has done better work.
Spanish Peaks is no more than 3 miles from The Yellowstone Club and the development team sought out Weiskopf and Smith. Just as at Yellowstone Club, Spanish Peaks follows a similar blueprint. The course is above average but it fails to add much on the creativity side of things. One would think the architectural duo would have seen fit to ensure a club so near to another design from their efforts in providing a few new wrinkles -- possibly even breaking new ground. That's not the case here.
The reasons can be several. Often developers do not want architects to go beyond what's been done in the past. Therefore, you get a finished product akin to watching a repeat television episode. In some cases, the architects themselves provide a finished effort that bears the same fingerprints because it is a style of work, they are comfortable in doing. I have often believed the best work for many architects comes early in their careers because the artistic side is still paramount. As years past, it's not uncommon for the collective work product to get stale and a bit tired because those hiring them simply only want a cut'n paste from earlier efforts..
That does not mean there are no good holes at Spanish Peaks The par-4 5th is a quality two-shot hole as well as the 9th which ends the front side nicely. On the inward half the par-4 14th is demanding on all fronts and you will find a signature Weiskopf element with a potential driveable par-4 at the 17th.
You also have first rate turf conditions and the benefits of having such stunning off-course views when playing.
Given the overall elevation of 7,000+ feet the golf ball will travel a good ways on a layout just crossing over 7,000 yards.
Spanish Peaks provides a fun golf layout at various intervals, but for architectural bloodhounds the experience will be less than fulfilling.