We travelled thirty minutes from Butte to Anaconda to play the Old Works Golf Course which is a Jack Nicklaus Signature design. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, the Old Works Golf Course has been reborn on the site of Anaconda’s historic century old copper smelter. Jack Nicklaus incorporated many historic relics in his Signature design.
It is a really nice course with interesting surrounds due to it’s mining history. During the initial design phase, Jack Nicklaus believed slag would add a historical aspect and wondered if the slag would be a viable alternative for bunker sand. After doing some field testing they confirmed that slag was an inert material that posed no risk so the bunkers are filled with black slag. The slag is a by-product of the copper smelting process. The practice facilities at the course are also great. Due to my many experiences in the bunkers I can also tell you that hitting out of the slag was better than hitting out of conventional sand : )
History of the Land
In 1883, an Irish immigrant, Marcus Daly backed by J.B. Haggin and others purchased the land on which the city of Anaconda and the Old Works were to be built. In September 1884 the Upper Works began production, with a capacity to treat 500 tons of ore daily. Remnants of the Upper Works can be seen today when playing the front nine at Old Works.
In 1886, installing updated equipment increased capacity to 1,000 tons per day.
The need for more smelting capacity from the Butte mine’s resulted in construction beginning on the Lower Works in 1887, one mile east of the Upper Works. Shortly after completion, the Lower Works were destroyed by fire. The rebuilt Lower Works were operational by 1889 with a capacity to process 3,000 tons of ore daily. To keep up with the ore supply, a third smelter was planned across the valley. Marcus Daly never saw these Reduction Works in operation; he died in New York in 1900.
The new more modern Washoe Smelter had the capacity to process all of the ore from the Butte mines, resulting in the dismantling and closure of the Old Works. The location lay idle until 1983 when it became a super fund cleanup site. In 1989, Anaconda citizen’s formed a group to promote the construction of a “world class” golf course on the site. Through hard work and cooperation, between the community, ARCO, State and Federal Agencies along with golf legend Jack Nicklaus, ground was broken on May 26, 1994.