Golfing in the Canadian Rockies
Set in some of the most gorgeous and rugged locations, the golf courses of the Canadian Rockies should almost come with a warning: Spectacular scenery may be hazardous to your handicap. Focused golfers will find much to love in the challenging terrain, meticulous greens, and outstanding facilities. It's no wonder the courses here routinely make lists of the top golf experiences anywhere in the world.
Nestled beneath the baronial and historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, the 27-hole Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course is lauded as one of the best of the best. The course was born 100 years ago, in 1911, with nine-holes built by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. Stanley Thompson, Canada's master golf course architect, used his skilful talent when he redesigned the layout and added another nine holes in 1928. The course winds along the Bow River under the snow-capped peaks of Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle. In 1989, nine more holes (the Tunnel 9) were added for a 27-hole championship layout, and then a $4.5 million facelift in 1999 restored the original 18 to top condition. Both amateurs and professionals are astonished by the panoramic challenge the course presents, from the design of the holes to the optical illusions created by the surrounding mountains. One of the most renowned holes is the Devil's Cauldron, played over a glacial lake and onto a bunkered punchbowl green. The course is located at 405 Spray Avenue in Banff. For tee times, call (403) 762-6801.
The par 72 Stewart Creek course measures 7,150 yards from the first tee to the 18th hole. The course gets its name from the creek that runs before the 15th green, named after miner Archibald Stewart. Each of the 18 holes at Canmore's Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club were designed by architect Gary Browning to offer superb panoramic views. True to Browning's vision, the rugged landscape of the Three Sisters Mountain Village has been sculpted into layered fairways and subtly sloped greens, with landing areas defined by the forest. To sharpen the challenge, 35 bunkers are strategically situated around fast-flowing streams, crystal-clear lakes, rocky outcrops and restored mine entrances on the 1st and 14th holes that speak to the coal mining history of the site. Located at 4100 Stewart Creek Drive in Canmore. For tee-times, phone (403) 609-6099, toll-free at 1-877-993-GOLF (4653).
On the sunny south-facing slopes of Canmore, the Silvertip Golf Resort is one of the area's newest golf courses and the most dramatic. Les Furber designed the par 72 course to be "an extreme golf experience." It has more than 600 feet of elevation change and a bounty of elevated tees, starting on the first and second holes and climaxing with the 13th, which is downhill 150 feet. Silvertip Resort's 600 acres are perched on the benchlands of Mount Lady MacDonald. Named for a rare and beautiful type of grizzly bear, the resort is located at 2000 Silvertip Trail in Canmore, off Hwy 1 at Benchlands Trail. For tee times, phone (403) 678-1600, toll-free at 1-877-877-5444.
Brewster's Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course is situated on the original Brewster Family homestead at the base of Mount Yamnuska. The 18-hole, par 67 public facility offers a gorgeous setting where the foothills meet the Rockies for tournaments, group events, conference meetings, weddings and employee outings with a distinct western flair. The 5,270-yard course was completed by Bud Brewster, a fourth generation cowboy and entrepreneur, with the front nine opening in 2001 and the back nine in 2008, when Bud was 80-years old. The course is located on Ranch Road, Highway 1X, at Exshaw. For tee times, phone (403) 673-2700, toll-free at 1-877-673-2700
The residents of Canmore funded and constructed their new golf course in 1926, making it the first with 18 holes to operate in the Bow Valley. Today the par 71, 6,307 yard course at the Canmore Golf & Curling Club has a mix of challenging par 4's and 5's, scenic tee shots and well-bunkered bent grass greens, and it is enjoyable for all handicap levels. The amenities at the semi-private club are rounded out with a clubhouse, pro shop and driving range. The course is located at 2000 - 8th Avenue in Canmore. For tee times, phone (403) 678-4785, toll-free at 1-888-678-4785.
Rated the best in Canada by SCOREGolf Magazine, The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course meanders along Lac Beauvert and through a wildlife corridor that is frequented by elk, caribou, bears and wolves. Master golf course architect Stanley Thompson designed the course in 1925, carving fairways from the surrounding forests and giving top priority to the natural contours of the land. As a result, the par 71 course is simply gorgeous, with elevated tee boxes, dramatic bunkers and vistas that look out over the snow-capped mountain peaks. It appeals to golfers of all levels by being challenging but not too difficult. The course is located along Old Lodge Road, just off Highway 16 east of Jasper townsite. Tee times are required and may be booked by calling (780) 852-6090, toll-free at 1-866-540-4454.
The Golden Golf Club has an appealing combination of beautifully maintained fairways almost entirely lined by natural forest, frequented by eagles, osprey, coyotes, deer and black bears. The 18-hole par72 course was built in two phases ten years apart starting in 1986, and the back nine was designed by Les Furber and could well be his finest nine-hole layout. The signature hole is the 11th, with a tee overlooking the refreshing waters of Holt Creek. The course is at 576 Golf Course drive, just north of Golden off Hwy 1. For tee times, phone (250)344-2700, toll-free at 1-866-727-7222.
At Radium Resort, The Springs is set high along the banks of the Columbia River. Designed by renowned course architect Les Furber, the 18-hole par 72 course plays between 5,163 and 6,767 yards, blending seamlessly into the landscape. It's located at 7565 Columbia Avenue in Radium Hot Springs. For tee times, phone toll-free at 1-800-667-6444.
Completed in 1957, The Resort Course ranks as the oldest in the valley, and it's remained a favourite for its spectacular elevation changes and playability. The par-69 course at Radium Resort features tight, tree-lined fairways, and undulating greens. It is located at 8100 Golf Course Road in Radium Hot Springs. For tee times, phone toll-free at 1-800-667-6444.
You can get into hot water or try to stay out of it at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, with three courses to challenge and entertain players of all ages. Choose from the daunting tree-lined fairways of the championship Mountainside Golf Course, the interplay of the Riverside Golf Course along the Columbia, and the family-friendly challenges of the par-3 Creekside Golf Course. The 18-hole par 72 Mountainside course is home to the famous "Fairmonster," its 600-yard fourth hole. The resort is at 5225 Fairmont Resort Road. For tee times, phone 1-800-663-4979, or book online at www.fairmonthotsprings.com
With numerous courses to play just minutes apart, Invermere is fast becoming another of Canada's top golfing destinations. When SCOREGolf magazine unveiled its top 10 list of British Columbia's Best Public Golf Courses in 2009, Greywolf Golf Course at Panorama Mountain Village came out ranked #2. The 18-hole alpine course has beautifully sculptured bentgrass fairways, hair-raising elevation changes, and a dynamic collection of par 3s, capped by the diabolical Cliffhanger hole. The course is 18 km west of Invermere on Toby Creek Road, at 1860 Greywolf Drive. For tee times, call (250) 41-4100, toll-free at 1-888-473-9965.
Another Invermere course that made the SCOREGolf top list of public courses is the Eagle Ranch Golf Resort. The resort's 18-holes perch along the bluffs overlooking the Columbia River and offer terrific views to the Rockies and Purcell ranges. It's at 9581 Eagle Ranch Trail. For tee times, call 1-877-877-3889.