On Tuesday, July 6, The Reserve at Moonlight Basin will be thrust into the spotlight as it plays host to the fourth edition of ‘The Match,’ which will pit Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady against Bryson DeChambeau and Aaron Rodgers.
The Reserve is a Jack Nicklaus design in Big Sky, Mont. At 8,000 yards from the tips, it’s quite the beefy test — but at nearly 8,000 feet of elevation, tee shots will fly plenty far for big-hitters to hit it even bigger.
Luckily, the good folks at Moonlight Basin passed along some photos and hole descriptions so that you can get an inside look at the action. Check out the scenic property in photos from Evan Schiller and Aidan Bradley below, plus descriptions as provided by the course itself.
The 1st hole at Moonlight Basin is a breathtaking downhill dogleg left par 4 with a generous landing area off the tee. Players often take a long iron or hybrid off this tee, as a ball hit into the downhill left sloping first fairway adds plenty of roll to a tee shot, leaving a short or mid iron into the green. Longer, more aggressive players have the ability to drive the lower fairway with a perfectly placed tee shot. There’s no room to miss long on the approach and a bunker guards the right side of the green with a hazard to the left.
The 2nd hole is a picturesque dogleg right par 4 that offers up multiple club selections from the tee. Players should utilize the slope on the left side of this fairway to help add distance to their tee shot and avoid the trouble to the right. The longer the drive, the narrower the landing, but the risk can definitely be worth the reward here as a long ball can easily find its way inside 100 yards from the green, which is protected by a false front and bunker short right. Long at the middle of the green is OK here as balls will roll back down into the center of the green.
Views of the Madison Valley framed by the rocky slopes of the Spanish Peaks won’t disappoint on the downhill par 3 3rd hole at Moonlight. Local knowledge is key to playing this shorter par 3 as hitting the green isn’t always the best way to knock it close. For a left pin position, slightly long and left of the green is a great landing area as it takes the front bunkers out of play and uses the slopes around the green to get the ball close for a chance at birdie. A back right pin position, however, requires perfect execution off the tee. Sneaking away with par here is a great score to that pin.
The 4th hole is the number one handicap hole and one of the few holes that plays uphill at Moonlight. From the tee, a creek comes into play up the entire left side of this dogleg left par 4 and players will find themselves lining up well right to get into position for a long uphill approach to the green. An approach missed left, right or even long can end up in position for a two-putt par on this green. Short is no good here with a false front on the right side of the green and a massive bunker protecting the front left. Par here is sure to get you one up on your competitors.
The 5th hole is a truly unique dogleg right par 4 that plays downhill to the green with limited visibility of the lading area from the tee. Ladies and longer hitters have been known to drive this green or get very close by using the slope on the left side of the dogleg. Those players who choose to lay back off the tee will be left with one of the more intimidating downhill shots in golf to what has been coined the “infinity green.” Like an infinity pool, the back of this green drops off into the abyss and makes for incredible photo opportunities and vistas into the Madison Valley. A two putt here is no guarantee with subtle movement built in to protect this short par 4.
Standing on the 6th tee box at Moonlight may be one of the most overwhelmingly beautiful locations in the game. Lone Peak and Fan Mountain tower over you from left and right, and the jagged rocks of Cedar Mountain perfectly frame the background of this slightly downhill par 5. Players will find a generous landing area off the tee, but laying up on the second shot requires precision. Longer hitters can get home in two, but if you’re going to miss on a shot into this green be long. A false front and a very deep front greenside bunker guard the green.
The par 3 7th is one of the only holes at Moonlight where a carry over a naturally breathtaking mountain pond is required. A large bunker short guards this double-tiered green with a pot bunker left. It’s not uncommon to hear elk bugling around this hole in late September. Many members believe this is the most tranquil spot on the course.
The 8th hole at Moonlight is a slight dogleg right par 4 with a very traditional feel standing on the tee. Driver is not the play off this tee for most players as a longer tee shot demands a perfectly placed ball in a narrow landing area. Players can utilize the slope on the right side of the green to keep a ball on the green and avoid the deep greenside bunker on the left.
The par 5 9th hole offers a generous landing area off the tee, but a ball missed in the left fairway bunker will make for a challenging par. Players who choose to lay up can do so short of the fly-fishing pond on the right, leaving a 100- to 120-yard approach. More aggressive players will lay up left of the pond for a shorter approach with a better angle into this two-tiered green.
The 10th tee sets up perfectly for a right-to-left shaping tee shot. Hitting the fairway here is crucial, as most players are left with a long iron into a green with a lot of movement. Use some local knowledge on your approach by aiming for the back middle portion of this green to feed a ball over to a left pin location.
The downhill par 3 11th is one of the more breathtaking par 3s on the course. The Spanish Peaks are the perfect backdrop from the tee and players look back up into the North Summit Snowfield of Lone Peak from the green. There is often a slight breeze from left to right coming up the canyon that players can’t always feel from the tee. A large bunker guards the front of the green with a shallow bunker long. Jack Creek tends to pull the ball on this green, making putts going away from the mountain very fast.
Aim for the crooked lodgepole pine with a wood or long iron off the challenging par 4 12th. A well-executed tee shot will leave a player with a mid iron into an elevated green with a massive bunker intimidating players in front of the green. Par is a sought-after score here and birdie will definitely get you one up on your competitors.
Players should swing away off the tee on the beautiful par 5 13th hole at Moonlight. The second shot requires some precision as players can choose to aim left or right of the two large bunkers that split the fairway approach. Position your layup left or right based on the pin location. Being in the correct portion of this green is key to getting down in two putts.
The par 3 14th requires perfect execution, playing 286 yards from the championship tee. Local knowledge around this green is definitely an advantage to scoring. Players should aim right of the green off the tee to get to a pin position on the left side of the green and there is a backstop in the back right portion of the green that helps feed a ball back to a front pin.
The 15th hole at Moonlight is the easiest of the five par 5s on the course with many players able to get on or close to the green in two shots. More aggressive tee shots will end up left of the bunkers in the middle of the fairway, leaving a shorter distance to the green. The more generous landing area off the tee is to the right of the fairway bunkers. While the approach is a little longer, players will find a better angle to a green guarded by a deep front greenside bunker. Short is better than long on the approach here. The 15th green is another one where putts toward Jack Creek will seem extra fast.
If a moose milling around the pond to the right of this green does not distract you, the beauty of Fan Mountain in the background will definitely make you refocus before hitting into this par 3. Stopping a ball in the right quadrant of the 16th green is more important here than any other green on the course. Being above the hole to a front left pin, or vice versa, makes for a very challenging two putt.
At an overwhelming 777 yards, this par 5 stands alone in the golf world. But don’t let the distance on the scorecard intimidate you. Many players will enjoy the longest drive of their golfing careers if their tee shot sneaks past the bunker in the middle of the fairway. Some players even reach this green in two shots, making it one of the more memorable holes on the course.
The closing hole at Moonlight is a double fairway par 4 that is drivable from some of the forward tees. Players at the back tees should choose the left or right fairway based on the pin location and the angle needed into the green to knock it close. A false front guards the front portion of this elevated green, but contours in the middle can help a player nestle a ball in tight to a right pin location. The 18th green always makes for an exciting finish to the round.