Canadian Rockies Golf: Historic. Dramatic. Untamed.
by K. Gordon Schultz Trying to understand what a vacation or lifestyle destination is like from the outside looking in can be difficult. And informed decisions can mean the difference between wishing for a great getaway experience and ensuring one. A consortium of six golf-and-resort lifestyle properties in Alberta, Canada understand this and have banded together to offer as fine a collection as perhaps exists in North America. And they’ve helped prospective visitors better understand what they offer through their brand tagline – “Canadian Rockies Golf: Historic. Dramatic. Untamed.” Here are the precise reasons why each of these descriptive words were selected by this group, which includes Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club, The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Kananaskis Country Golf Course, Canmore Golf and Curling Club, Silvertip Resort, and The Fairmont Banff Springs.
Historic.With two revered, classical era golf course designs by Stanley Thompson – at Banff Springs and Jasper Park – two Robert Trent Jones Sr. masterpieces at Kananaskis Country Golf Course, and The Fairmont Banff Springs – which is styled after a Scottish baronial castle and built in the late 19th Century – the destination is a tribute to elegant, timeless designs from a bygone era. Yet it offers all the modern conveniences and amenities, but without over development thanks to being located in either federal parks (the two Fairmont resorts) or an idyllic, rural oasis (Kananaskis Country).
Dramatic.All six of the courses in the area – with a combined 135 holes and an additional new 18 soon to arrive along side Stewart Creek – are decorated by towering, majestic mountain peaks which are so close they seem within arm’s reach. Distraction by natural wonder is a distinct reality when playing golf in the Canadian Rockies. Silvertip and Stewart Creek not only offer great drama in their course designs, which wind up and down and around the stunning terrain, but also are preferred sites for weddings and corporate retreats. They also are popular vacation- and/or second-home destinations, thanks to the aforementioned scintillating vistas and locations of the resorts, combined with their many upscale amenities.
Untamed.Thanks to the thousands upon thousands of protected acres which fall under the national parks and which are the core of the Canadian Rockies golf and resort lifestyle experience, wildlife proliferates. It is common to see 800-pound elk with massive racks atop their head meandering throughout the area, including occasionally asking to play through. Jasper Park is particularly graced with an abundance of animals throughout the park. There’s a reason they call it “the wild side of the Rockies”, and bear, coyote, cougars, and a wide variety of birds including eagles are regularly sighted. Furthermore, virtually all of the Canadian Rockies consortium golf courses are honored members of the Audubon Sanctuary program which promotes and recognizes properties which employ best environmental practices. Nature and golf are only a couple of the many acclaimed attractions offered in the Canadian Rockies (the golf courses are routinely bestowed with best-of accolades). Other amenities include Banff Springs’ Willow Stream Spa, which is 38,000 square feet of award-winning opulence and myriad soul-soothing services. Or Jasper Park is the perfect resort choice for families or corporate retreats thanks to a plethora of standalone accommodation choices including luxury cabins with casually elegant common areas and full kitchens combined with individual, hotel-style rooms for privacy. Canmore Golf and Curling Club is a delightful club with a vibe like that of the TV sitcom “Cheers,” where everybody knows your name and you’re welcomed like an old friend. Golf course architect Les Furber, who also designed Silvertip Resort, is a member. How many courses can you play where the course is constantly being tweaked by a talented, well-regarded design expert? Combine the spectacular scenery and summer daylight as late as 11:00 p.m. and golfers can play to their heart’s delight and still have time for family and the region’s many other activities. These include helicopter tours, hiking, fishing, rafting, gourmet restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, horseback riding, and many children’s programs. This area – host to the 1988 Olympic Games in Alberta – has long been known to avid travelers and winter-sport aficionados for its awe-inspiring terrain and jaw-dropping scenery. Winter activities run the gamut from skiing, ice climbing, dog-sledding, snowshoeing, ice fishing, horse-drawn carriage rides, hockey, ice-skating and much more. For icing on the cake all of the properties are close to one another – from 5 to 45 minutes – except Jasper Park. It’s a three-hour drive from Banff Springs, but such a description would be decried by many. Traversed along the Icefields Parkway, many consider this mind-blowing drive among the world’s most scintillating, thanks to the panoramic, otherworldly natural environs, which include glaciers, pine forests blanketing craggy slopes, and everpresent snow-capped peaks which can rise as high as 12,000 feet from the roughly mile-high base on which most of the area sits. To view the stunning topography, vacation options and learn more about the area visit www.canadianrockiesgolf.ca. Website visitors can view stay-and-play packages or request custom quotes for trips and packages. Or they may call Golf Canada’s West at 877.323.3633 for more information. The critical acclaim and unique attributes of the six golf properties which comprise “Canadian Rockies Golf: Historic, Dramatic Untamed” include: Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club
- Golf Digest rated 4 ½ stars
- Surrounded by the spellbinding Three Sisters Mountains, practically close enough to touch during play
- Audubon-certified course preserves habitat for plentiful wildlife
- Featuring the “wild side of the Rockies” – elk, caribou, coyote, bear, and wolves inhabit the national park
- Widely regaled as one of the world’s best resort courses
- Designed by Stanley Thompson, the 18 holes carve contours at the feet of mountains
- Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed courses are isolated, nestled in rural countryside
- 36 holes played beneath breathtaking Mt. Lorette and Mt. Kidd, after which the courses are respectively named
- Features immaculate lush fairways, famed island-like 4th green on Mt. Kidd course, 140+ silica sand bunkers and the cascading Kananaskis River
- Valley-based property requires players use all clubs in their bag, narrow fairways challenge all levels of golfers
- Tree-lined course, friendly community atmosphere provides intimacy and camaraderie
- Located at base of Bow Valley, glacier-fed streams lace through course
- Home course of PGA Tour Member and 2006 Players Champion Stephen Ames
- Golf Digest rated 4 ½ stars and lauded for environmental sensitivity and maintenance practices
- 600 feet of elevation change, including dramatic par-4 18th with extreme altitude drop from tee to fairway, fairway to green
- Historical course and castle-like hotel with regal ambiance, award-winning Willow Stream Spa and exquisite resort amenities
- 27 holes of golf – 18 Stanley Thompson-designed holes including the 200-yard, par-3 Devil’s Cauldron, 147 bunkers, and the 9-hole Tunnel Course
- Panoramic beauty, picturesque-mountain setting nestled between Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle