Wyoming's Rochelle Ranch Golf Course: Where the humans and antelope play

Rochelle Ranch Golf Course in Rawlins, Wyoming: Where the humans and antelope play

RAWLINS, Wyo. -- The hum of trucks and traffic along Interstate-80 does nothing to distract from the natural beauty of Rochelle Ranch Golf Course. Playing the city-owned municipal track is such a unique experience on a wind-swept prairie lined with sagebrush and salt flats in south central Wyoming.

Fact is, Rochelle Ranch might be the best $48 round of golf (peak rate) you'll ever play.

Antelope regularly play through without warning. Golfers can thank sheep ranchers Curt and Marian Rochelle for their generosity. They paid for construction of the 7,925-yard course as a gift to Rawlins residents in 2004.

This remains one of the longest and most difficult golf courses in the country, despite sitting at an altitude of 6,800 feet that helps the ball go farther. Golf Digest ranked the Ken Kavanaugh design no. 29 among "America's 50 toughest courses" in 2007 but left it off the list of its updated "75 toughest" in 2011. The nines were reversed in 2013 so players could get off to a more forgiving start. The new no. 1 plays 343 yards from the 6,629-yard white tees, compared to the daunting 415-yard old first hole (now the 10th) which bends left around a marsh.

Kavanaugh created endless risk-reward options with bunkers in the middle of wide fairways on holes 3, 4, 10 and 17 and a split fairway at no. 5.

The totally awesome 13th hole, a 360-yard par 4 (white tees), bends it like Beckham around a large pond. It's just a 200-yard carry from most of the tees to reach dry land near the green, so going for it is almost required.

After golf, stop by the Bunkerz Bar & Grill inside the clubhouse for killer home-made milkshakes. For stay and plays, check out the Hampton Inn Rawlins right across the street.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

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Rochelle Ranch Golf Course in Rawlins, Wyoming: Where the humans and antelope play