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Diamond X - Billings, MT Options
Posted: Thursday, July 09, 2009 4:39:34 PM
Rank: Tree Hukker

Joined: 2/8/2009
Posts: 22
Diamond X (Phipps Park), Billings, MT

I've been saving this one for a while.  Get a cold one, then read on. 

(ps..if someone knows how to post pics...please let me know...my descriptions don't do this course any justice - you have to see it)

So knowing that I was headed out this way I decided to take a look at the course descriptions and web pages of the courses in Billings, MT.  One jumped out at me right away...Diamond X, or simply (as the locals call it), "the X".  I knew right away I was in for a treat when they said that rattlesnakes were everywhere, serious climbing would be involved, and to bring water.  I then decided to get on google maps to try and gain another perspective, as this is fully touted to be the most extreme disc golf course in the country.  As I got out of my truck and crested the approach trial a horseshoe shaped draw 1/4 mile across ringed with 200-400 ft high cliffs dominated my view.  The top of the cliffs were flat, much like a typical western butte.  This feature was part of the dominant landscape north of Billings - rimrock country.  Little did I know I was looking at only 1/2 of the course.  The other half was actually situated on top of the rimrock, above the cliffs and made it's way through the sagebrush flats or more commonly along the cliff edge.  Air fairways is the website name for this course - and it's very descriptive.

God Damn, I almost forgot....well, not really...about the beer!!  Holy sh-it!!!  For a po-dunk little town such as this in a part of MT people only drive through....this place has a plethora of options...which I have thoroughly sampled and will get to shortly...

Conditions - sunny, 5-10 wind, 90 degrees
Tee's - dirt / rock, minimal maintenance
Baskets - mostly innova disc-catcher
Layout - moderate length course, massive elevation, 36 holes, 2 courses, playable in any configuration of front/back 9
Beverage pairing - taproom crawl

I'm really having a tough time putting this into words...as you cannot see my emotions.  From the start this course is intimidating.  It will beat you up mentally and physically.  It can be hot, very windy, exposed, frustrating, and you can be bit by rattlesnakes.  On my first attempt I managed to play 8 holes.  This took 2.5 hours.  The course(s) are not very well marked and one must use their disc golf spidey-senses to find the next teebox and pin.  It is confusing as well, as they had small signs at ankle level marking the teeboxes...but there were two number ones...and the map I had only outlined one of the courses... The rocks are big.  Real big.  Like as big as the shelters in the parks around cincy.  Tall grass, cactus, cheat grass, rocks, and rattlesnakes, and yucca, and dense ponderosa pine that won't let go of discs.  Distances are deceptive...the 260 feet across a 200 ft void with 400 ft of nothing but air beneath and to the left seems about a mile until your disc suddenly slams against the sandstone 5 seconds sooner than you thought it should.  Did I mention the cross gusts, down drafts, up drafts, and what-the-fu-ck drafts swirling every which way just before you huck your firebird out over 500 feet of nothingness trusting that that same updraft will launch it 200 ft striaght up causing it to hyzer back 200 ft to the cliff edge 400 ft from where you stand to land parked next to a basket that you can't even see. Yeah.  That hole is called "Scare Tactics".  It is one reason one beer just won't cut it. 

Broken down into 4 nine holers, each has it's own personality.  One is in the rocks, along the bottom of the cliffs, and is very scenic, providing a nice intro to the larger course.  Another is fairly open, in the grass, has longer shots, with long anhysers, and much variation.  Of the 18 holes on top, one 9 holer group is more forgiving yet chances for birdies are slim.  The other, where "scare tactics" is located, is mentally debilitating.  Most holes lie along the cliff edges, where one errant putt or drive will send your disc a long way down.  However, if confident and aggressive, 2's are more plentiful.  Perhaps the signature hole of the course is 18 on what the locals call the "black" course.  This is where you stand on the precipice of the 400 ft dominant cliff face and huck a Roc 600+ feet out to hit your barely visable basket 400 feet below.  There is pause between seeing your disc hit the desert floor and hearing your disc slam into the ground.

Most holes are thrown blind.  The massive elevation combined with the sparse, but dense, vegetation result in many minutes looking for discs.  Just be careful before sticking your hand in a sagebrush or underneath a rocky outcropping.  Stomping around and playing in the heat of the day will reduce your chances of being bitten.  I've seen 3 rattlers out here so far...1 dead that an earlier discer killed, and two live ones that slithered out from under a rock that moved when I stepped on it.  This course forces you to throw overhand, forhand, backhand, and even upsidedown squib shots.  Anywhere in the 40's is a 1000 rated round. 


Although I don't ususally recommend this but...leave the beer at home.  Bring water.  Because this course will completely destroy you both physically and mentally, the only way to celebrate surviving 18 (36 if you've got cajones) at "the X" is heading straight into town at 4pm to sample the local taproom offerings.  (MT has taprooms, open only M-Sat., 4-8pm, 3 beer limit, $3/beer, $6/growler) This beer is made right there, on location, and isnt' bottled/canned.  Carter's (Railyard) is perhaps the best and has the best atmosphere to unwind.  Feel like a trainwreck after playing "the X".  Get the Trainwreck.  It's a double-IPA and will only be around for a short while.  Used some 4-letter words out there today....???....get "4-letter words" an impeccable Pale.  Prefer something lighter...then choose between their Kolch, Wit, Hefe, or spring ale.  Darker...Scotch ale....porter...nut brown.  At least 12 different local beers to choose from...sample them all, fill up 3 times, and take a growler with you 1.5 blocks away to Angry Hank's....your second stop on the taproom crawl.  Their beer selection is almost as good as Carter's, but by this time you want the atmosphere...loud, metallic, barely converted gas station to brew house, standing room only.  Lost 3 discs, bitten by a rattler...??....head straight to Angry Hanks and get even!!!  At around 8, head to the Montana Brew Pub (not a taproom) and if it's Mon or Tues get thier $2 Saison.  Belgium beer = heavenly.  Get a burger, fill up another growler, head to the hotel or river to camp and go play "the X" again tomorrow. 


There really is no way to describe this course.  I wish I could post some pics......  If you drive through Billings on any adventures out west be sure to play this course....it will take you to the extremes of your game and self. 

Bottom line:  Play here.

Posted: Friday, August 07, 2009 4:48:03 PM
Rank: Tree Hukker

Joined: 8/18/2006
Posts: 34
hot I'll throw this in as well.  2 liters of water is not enough for one round (especially for a slightly overweight Cincinnati boy who is not used to scrambling up and down rocks to retrieve my discs).  Bring a gallon per round.  My mouth was dry and cracked by the end of the day- and we went straight for beer afterwords.  Can you say hangover? Also, all you disc golf "cart" pullers out there- LEAVE THEM AT HOME as it is literally impossible to use them here unless you plan on setting up a rope and pulley system!  I'll also describe cheat grass a little more in detail.  You know those little green burrs that stick to your socks from walking thru the woods... Well imagine those little guys but more like little needles with barbs that prick you and don't come off nearly as easily.  I was picking them off my socks and shoes for days after and still have one lodged in my finger!  I would also recommend starting some kindof cardio routine before you venture out that way.  I consider myself to be somewhat ahletic with biking and jogging in my normal routine and this place kicked my A$$.   If you can manage all that, then you will have yourself one kicka$$ time at the X.  It is one of the most unique and challenging courses I have ever played.
Tim Tim
Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 9:55:02 AM

Rank: Veteran

Joined: 2/9/2009
Posts: 203
Location: Monroe, OH
Please figure out the picture uploading cause I wanna see pics of this place REALLY bad. I have a friend that lives up there and wants me to come stay so he has someone to play the course with but in the meantime I'd like to see what all the hype is about!
Posted: Monday, August 24, 2009 12:06:28 PM
Rank: Tree Hukker

Joined: 2/8/2009
Posts: 22

Here's the link to my, ahem, facebook album of diamond X.

Tim Tim
Posted: Monday, August 24, 2009 12:07:54 PM

Rank: Veteran

Joined: 2/9/2009
Posts: 203
Location: Monroe, OH
oOoOoOooOoO Thanks for the pics to view!! It looks awesome there, with a hint of danger lol Can't wait to go there someday...
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