Western Canada is home to some of the best mountain golf holes in the world.
If your favourite golf course is as flat as a pancake, tears through a shady housing development, and features a string of ho-hum holes that butt up against a noisy freeway, you may want to quit reading and flip to the next page. However, if you love lush fairways that curl along glacier-fed creeks, and if you relish playing one-of-a-kind holes that tumble beneath soaring, snow-capped peaks, you might want to continue. Ah, come on, if you’ve ever heard of Tiger Woods, just keep reading.
Long-time golfers in British Columbia and Alberta will tell you Western Canada is home to some awesome mountain golf courses. Some of the best in the world, as a matter a fact.
Classic courses like Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, which date back to the 1920s, are iconic mountain golf symbols known the world over. And relative newcomers such as Greywolf (Invermere), Stewart Creek (Canmore), Bear Mountain (Victoria) and Château Whistler, have vaulted onto the scene and are wowing many of the game’s most knowledgeable connoisseurs.
Naturally, with all the great mountain golf to be had in these parts, there are many unforgettable golf holes worthy of mentioning. No, there aren’t many “duds” on this list. Not many freeways in view. Not many windows to be shattered. Just sublime golf holes that yearn to be played and enjoyed again and again and again. Here, then, is our list of the best mountain golf holes in Western Canada.
Hole 4, Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course, Par 3, 157 Yards (Photo above)
This timeless par-3, which is consistently recognized as one of the best golf holes in the world, is about as postcard-perfect as they come. Created by the great Stanley Thompson in the 1920s, the green sits in a natural amphitheatre with a pristine mountain lake in the foreground and the towering vertical face of Mount Rundle looming directly behind. Simply stunning.
Panorama, British Columbia
Hole 6, Greywolf Golf Course, Par 3, 175 Yards (Photo above)
“Cliffhanger,” as it is affectionately known, is one of the most intimidating, awe-inspiring holes you’ll ever see. As the name implies, the green sits atop a wind-blasted cliff high above a gorgeous valley. The green is roomy; however, a miss requires crampons, rope, and a guide to retrieve. Just hit a good one.
Hole 14, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course, Par 4, 360 Yards (Photo above)
There are so many wonderful holes at Jasper it’s difficult to pick just one. However, the beautiful 14th, which hugs the shores of Lac Beauvert, is so perfectly conceived it must be included. The bunkerless hole requires a tee shot over the water to a canted fairway guarded by massive pines. The tricky, lakeside green is tough to hit, but not quite as tough as “Bad Baby,” the next cunning hole on this marvellous mountain course.
Kootenay Lake, British Columbia
Hole 5, Kokanee Springs Golf Resort, Par 4, 421 Yards (Photo above)
Dubbed “Poop Deck,” this super-scenic par-4 is anything but a stinker! The blind tee shot must find the narrow, tree-lined fairway in order for you to have a hope of reaching the slender green over the creek. Just one of many outstanding holes on this Norman Woods gem, which, thanks to its rather remote location, doesn’t rightfully get its due.
Kananaskis Country, Alberta
Hole 4, Mt. Kidd Course, Kananaskis Country Golf Course, Par 3, 182 Yards (Photo above)
After you soak in the view from the tee (this could take a while), you’ll need to hoist a medium to short iron into the air and hope you guessed right with your club selection. The peninsula green is ringed with water, so anything poorly struck – or struck way too well – will require a Speedo to play.
Whistler, British Columbia
Hole 17, Nicklaus North Golf Course, Par 3, 213 Yards (Photo above)
At a pivotal point in the round Nicklaus asks us to stripe a long iron or hybrid club into a nasty green that menacingly bites into the lake. It’s a beauty, for sure, but a hole with zero respect for your score. However, the wonderful setting here will motivate you, invigorate you, and you’ll give it your best move ever, right?
Kimberley, British Columbia
Hole 11, Trickle Creek Golf Resort, Par 3, 174 Yards (Photo above)
Trickle Creek is a sweet mountain track. Holes plunge down fall lines and the views are sublime. The 11th, a terrific par-3 with a thin tee on rocky ledge and a sand-encased green on the other side of the ravine, is one of the best in the Kootenay Rockies. Miss the green and you’ll wish you were a mountain goat.
Golden, British Columbia
Hole 11, Golden Golf & Country Club, Par 4, 357 Yards (Photo above)
Saunter up to the tee deck and a cool, refreshing mist, and the thundering sound of a spirited mountain creek will greet you. In spring, when runoff is at its peak, it’s difficult to hear the person beside you, it’s that loud. The small green, which is tucked in the trees on the other side of the noisy creek, is slicker than our editor’s head…and kinda shaped like it.
Hole 13, Silvertip Golf Course, Par 4, 399 Yards
Tee shots don’t get much more enjoyable than this. The iconic Three Sisters massif looms directly behind the green and the fairway sits 125 feet below the tee deck. Paint a golf ball against the famous peaks and watch it fly for an eternity. What joy! What fun! What bliss! Go ahead, hit another just for fun, no one’s looking.
Hole 6, Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club, Par 5, 527 Yards
Great par-5s should have options. And the par-5 6th hole at Stewart Creek, one of the best mountain courses in the country, has ‘em.
Go for the green and risk a big score? Lay up to the right and play for par? Lay up to the split fairway on the left? Ah, come on Roy, just go for it!
~By Andrew Penner
Andrew Penner is 15-year member of the CPGA as well as a freelance writer and photographer. His work appears regularly in publications such as SCORE Golf Magazine, Golf Canada, Inside Golf, and others. He lives in Calgary with his wife Dawn and their four boys. His book, titled “One Flew Over The Caddyshack”, explores such mysteries as, “How can golfers stay married and still enjoy the game? And of course, “Who let lefties on the course?”