The Smith Lake Folf Course was built and designed in 2002 by local disc golfer Carter Allen. Mr Allen reached out to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conversation (DNRC) . The course is located on Montana Trust Lands. These are lands that are managed in a way to benefit public schools. The DNRC allowed Mr Allen to put in posts with metal tones for targets at the north end of Whitefish Lake where the road to Smith Lake begins. No t-boxes, signage, or more construction was permitted nor further development of the course following logging operations in 2007. Technically it was an area where were allowed to throw frisbees through trees.
The original Smith Lake Course started having issues with overuse such as litter. The holes were also closely spaced and at busy times it wasn’t too hard for a player to get hit by a disc and possibly injured. Luckily and thankfully a lot of local disc golfers cleaned up the course and got the word out to keep it cleaner.
In 2005 the WDF and DNRC started discussing building a course near Murray Lake and making Smith a permanent course. Several projects were close but never finalized. In 2015 the DNRC reached out to the WDF and let us know the course land was going to be leased by potential other groups and the existing course needed to be addressed. Issues with garbage, fires from cigarette butts, safety (close holes), parking, soil erosion, and soil compaction were discussed. It is also State Trust Land and any group using the land, adding objects such as targets, is required by MT law to to through a process of public scoping and to pay a fee. The WDF entered agreement and annually raises $1500 for the land use fee and $600 for the insurance.
Using new terrain with views of Whitefish Lake to the Mission Mountains the 2018 rebuild altered the face of Smith Lake. The original layout played 18 holes of tight short to mid range shots that were deeply loved. Having to lose a course to build a course was the worst part of this course. The new layout added 9 holes making it a 27 hole layout. While it uses 2 of the original holes the new holes took advantage of 2 logging operations that thinned and cleared areas that were not playable in the past.
The new layout is technical and brings every shot in the bag into play. It is also physical and involves several holes with steep elevation changes challenging a players endurance. For players just looking to keep it casual holes 18 through 27 play through the same land as the original course and incorporate two of the original holes.