ONE LAST SWING
Three Calgary-area golf courses provide challenging holes amid breathtaking fall beauty
Ahh, fall golf. The little golfing grommets are back in school.
The courses are still prime. And the colours are popping. Ask any diehard golfer — it’s the best time of the year to play.
Sure, a quick nine after work or a bucket of balls at lunch can quench the thirst. But you may as well get all your birdies in a row, do some planning, and play 18 heavenly holes at one of the top tracks in the area. Or better yet, stay overnight and do it twice! Here are three of your best bets for a quick fall golf getaway.
KANANASKIS COUNTRY GOLF COURSE
Kananaskis 2.0 (the course was wiped out in the 2013 flood and was closed for five long years) is an even sweeter reincarnation of this iconic Alberta golf facility. Thanks to the design work of Gary Browning, the courses are wider, more forgiving, and more fun than the originals. Both Mount Kidd and Mount Lorette, which originally were designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in the early 1980s, are in stunning condition. And when the aspens go gold there really isn’t a prettier place on the planet to play golf. Where to Stay: The neighbouring Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge has also been re-envisioned and has a modern and luxurious atmosphere. After golf, an hour or two in the incredible Nordic Spa ( basically, it’s a sprawling collection of hot pools, steam rooms, saunas, and cold plunge pools) will hit the spot. Where to Eat: The Cedar Room at the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, a Canadian chophouse that specializes in local fare prepared to perfection, always gets top marks. The bacon-wrapped, maple-glazed carrots will totally change your perspective on root vegetables.
WINTERGREEN GOLF COURSE
Tucked in the pines just a few kilometres north of Bragg Creek, Wintergreen Golf Course is the closest place for Calgarians to play mountain golf. With daring downhill holes, beautiful lakeside par-5s, and an away-fromit-all ambience, Wintergreen is an underrated layout that serves up plenty of drama. True, some uphill holes add to the difficulty, but these tough holes are tempered when you play the correct tees. And, thanks to the moisture this summer, the turf conditions are outstanding and the fall colour show at Wintergreen is always impressive.
Where to Stay: Although Bragg Creek is just 45 minutes from downtown Calgary, it’s still an awesome place to spend the weekend. (Less time on the road equals more time on the fairways and exploring the boutique shopping in town.) Although there are no large resorts in Bragg Creek (one of its virtues), there are a handful of charming B&Bs in the area that afford a highly memorable experience. Try Riverside Chateau, M & M Ranch, or Evergreen Country B&B.
Where to Eat: The eclectic restaurant scene in Bragg Creek has, for decades, been luring visitors to town. Although the legendary Steak Pit is no more (it was destroyed in the 2013 flood that ravaged Bragg Creek), there are a dozen or so other restaurants that will leave a lasting impression. Try Creekers Bistro (for mouth-watering bison burgers) or The Italian Farmhouse (for pizza and pasta).
STEWART CREEK GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
Routed on rocky benchland just south of Canmore, Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club is Canadian Rockies golf at its finest. Pine-lined holes dip and dive through the rugged terrain and the massive green complexes, subtle shaping, and wide corridors make this course a rewarding experience for the average recreational player. Immaculate course conditions and service that goes above and beyond are trademarks. And in fall, the golden hues and snow-capped mountains just add to the allure of a round at Stewart Creek. Where to Stay: Basecamp Resorts Canmore is an ideal place to hunker down for your weekend. The resort, in the heart of Canmore, features modern suites with full kitchens, private patios, communal spaces, a rooftop hot tub, and epic mountain views.
Where to Eat: Dining options in Canmore are seemingly endless. There is always something new to try. For example, The Sensory, which opened in April, is one of the new kids on the block that is turning plenty of heads. Featuring locally foraged fare and incredible mountain views from the floor-to-ceiling windows, The Sensory is fine dining with a Canadian Rockies twist. The Hike, seven courses for $85, is your ticket to a fall feast for the ages.
Wherever your fall golf expeditions take you, you can be sure that quieter courses, warm afternoons, and a kaleidoscope of colour will accompany you.
But time is a tickin’. You may as well get your eagles in a row and plan a fall golf junket before the leaves are gone and fairways turn, ahem, white. Sorry to bring that up.
The iconic par-3 4th on the Mount Kidd course at Kananaskis Country Golf Course.
The lakeside par-5 11th at Wintergreen in Bragg Creek.
The par-5 6th at Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club, where golfers are rewarded with immaculate course conditions and mountain vistas. PHOTOS: ANDREW PENNER