I break for golf courses. Ofcourse I checked in my golf bag for our Canadian road trip, anticipating playing on a higher level. Not talking about hcp improvement (I wish) but excited about the mountain golf gems set in the Rocky Mountains.
Known for their panoramic beauty, golf courses in Alberta offer just two simple things for the perfect golf vacation.
First, a breathtaking view in every direction and second, a magnificent layout that thrills every golfer fortunate enough to spend a day here. Captivating and challenging at the same time. So this trip was all about mountain golf as the opposite of links course golf.
Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course
Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club is open since 1925 and a hidden golf gem set deep in the of the Canadian Rockies ever since.
Stanley Thompson, Canada’s master golf course architect, displayed some of the finest work of his career with this design. The 18-hole layout offers elevated tee boxes, dramatic bunkering and holes aligned with distant mountain vistas. Beware of bears in the thick forest around.
Golf pro Tahlon Sweenie joins us for a round and shares tips and tricks. Tnx so much!
This challenging nature course is a must play when in Jasper. Pro shop and club rental available.
“My favorite hole is definitely no. 14.
Lac Beauvert’ has it all: stunning views of the lake, a challenge drive across the water, small undulated fairway and elevated green guarded by bunkers. I always play this hole well, that might have something to do with it as well … ”
__ Tahloon Sweenie, head pro JPL golf
Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club 18 holes – 6663 yards – par 71 – from CAD 149
Banff Springs Golf Course
Although Banff is the highest place in Banff National Park, 1383 m, the Stanley Thompson golf course is quite flat since it is located in the valley of Bow mountain alongside the Bow river banks. Therefore an easy walking course. Leave the buggy at the clubhouse and hire a push trolley if you need some extra exercise.
Banff Springs Golf is a real resort golf course, meaning that it’s accessible for players of all skills, independent of their hcps. To make this course more challenging if you have a low or mid hcp, the scorecard provides a ladies option to play from gold tees or a mix of gold/red. Gents can opt to play of the white tees. Or back tees.
The views on the first 9 are great, especially hole 8 & 9 which are laid out along the river banks. The sounds of the flowing river just below helped me to concentrate on the next shot. Zen time!
Make sure that you’re not only keen on your shots but also stay alert for Canadian Rockies wildlife. We encountered a very relaxed coyote, wandering over the teebox (we’ll wait, take your time) and a group of nine (!) elks, gathering in one of the bunkers. Who needs a safari?
Hole 15 is a elevated hole (one of two elevated holes, the other one is the par 3 no. 4th), tee off from above with wide views of woods and creeks.
Downside is the location in the middle of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel’s recreational area, so cars pass by quite close to the fairway, as are bikers and hikers. Therefore it is less a nature course than I had anticipated, but certainly worth the round.
Banff Springs Golf Course 18 holes – 6,938 yards – par 71 – green fees from CAD 215
Silvertip Golf course in Canmore
Just half an hour from Banff, in Canmore, you’ll find two stunning courses. First one is Silvertip Golf Resort, the perfect mountain golf course to challenge yourself and inhale some more of that fresh mountain air.
This really is playing golf on top of the world since this course is routed high in the Canadian Rockies. Challenging is an understatement, this course requires some skills. If you have the ability to hit straight shots by default, this course is a walk in the park. Uh, mountain.
Laid out on the south-facing side of the mountains, the chances are high that you’ll enjoy a long, warm golfing day. Ours started with a ‘frost delay’ but warmed up pretty fast so we ended the round just wearing a polo shirt.
Don’t forget to take your camera when approaching the teebox 13th, this elevated hole comes with spectacular views and rolling valleys.
It is impossible to walk this course, the buggy drive between 2 holes through the forest was more than 7 minutes up and down at one point. If I remember correctly between hole 4 and hole 5.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the best views are kept for last. Hole 18 is a dog leg to the left with elevated tees and rolls down some 125 feet to the undulated green in front of the clubhouse. (Talking about greens, they are fast. Pretty fast. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when your ball rolls past the cup and rolls of the green…)
The view of Bow Valley, a small emerald-green lake left of the green and the Three Sister mountains in the back will stay on my mind for a long time.
Silvertip Golf 18 holes – 7.200 yards – par 72 – green fees from CAD 135
Stewart Creek Golf & Country club
The other must-play course in Canmore is Stewart Creek, located on the opposite side from Silvertip, on the foothills of the Three Sister Mountains. We played in the morning and left for Calgary Airport after a lovely lunch in the clubhouse (go for the beetroot & goat cheese salad), which only takes up about an hour or so.
What stands out the moment you arrive at these immaculate setting, is the service and attitude of the staff. Far above standard, friendly and helpful.
Special thanks to starter Steve who happily shared his local knowledge (watch our for male elk since it is mating season) to step up our game. A real warm golf welcome.
Again, keep your drive straight on the fairways or on opposite side of the slope. For instance on hole 6, a stunning undulated par 5, keep it on the right of the fairway to have it roll down to the middle, keep your second shot on the right to approach the lower level green in three. Or in five. In my case. Again the best views are kept for the last hole. On 18
Stewart Creek has been sculpted into the magnificent Rocky Mountain landscape, picture postcard setting.
Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club 18 holes – 7009 yards – par 71 – green fees from CAD 129
Golfing in Alberta is easy and relaxed, a celebration of the senses. A (high) mountain golf course is really a rewarding golf experience. There is only one downside, the spectacular views might distract your game. So blame your score on nature.