Originally named "Last Chance Golf Course", Bill Roberts Golf Course opened as a 9 hole course in 1925. The name Last Chance Golf Course was given to the course in reference to the Last Chance Gold Strike of 1864 that eventually ended up being the birthplace of what is now the capital city of Montana. The name was later changed to Bill Roberts Golf Course in recognizing the efforts of longtime Pro/Greenskeeper Bill Roberts. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew his famous silver plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, into Helena for a touring stop. He used the golf course for a landing strip!
A native of Illinois, Bill Roberts came to Montana in 1924 and worked on golf courses in Roundup and Billings before settling as Golf Pro/Greenskeeper here from 1945-1965. During his tenure, water was introduced to the course and grass greens replaced the oiled sand greens in 1951. Roberts also planted many cottonwood trees, few of which survived over the years.
To expand the course to 18 holes, Robert Graves was selected as the golf course architect and Tom Roe shaped the new course layout. In 1976 the City of Helena finally opened its 18 hole public golf course. There were nine new holes built using modern construction techniques and the original nine holes with push-up greens. In 1990, the City of Helena recognized the need to improve the course, and just over one million dollars in bond sales were committed to build new tees, greens, bunkers and ponds. A new irrigation system was installed and 360 new trees were planted. In 1993, all phases of the project were completed and Carl Thusen was credited as the new course architect.
The course today has four sets of tees and plays 6,782 yards from the tips, with 43 bunkers and 9 water hazards. The course rating is 71.2 with a slope of 123 from the Back Tees. There are a number of challenging holes for the experienced golfer, and beginners will feel their frustration melt away while enjoying the surrounding views. Bill Roberts is rated Four Stars, and is surely a must-play for anyone coming to the area.