Alberta Golf Vacations

By Jim & Barbara Nicol

Alberta located directly north of Montana, is the sunniest of the provinces. Famous for the Canadian Rockies, which borders the west side of the province, offers more than 275 golf courses to play. So if you're on a business trip to the booming oil capitals of Edmonton or Calgary or taking a long awaited holiday, remember to take along your golf clubs for a golf experience of a lifetime.

Knowing where to start in Alberta will be your hardest decision. A popular choice is the Rocky Mountains, home to Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Canmore and Kananaskis, which offers some of Canada's top rated golf courses.

Banff is home to Banff Springs Golf Course and should be played while visiting. Opened in 1927 by the Prince of Wales, the 27-hole golf course was designed by one of Canada's famous course architects Stanley Thompson. The course runs along the bow river and is shadowed by giant mountains. The course offers just two simple things. First, a breathtaking view in every direction and second, a magnificent layout that thrills every golfer fortunate enough to spend a day here. Amateurs and professionals alike are constantly amazed by its panoramic challenge. Over looking the Banff Springs Course is the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Styled after a Scottish baronial castle. Only few hotels in the world can rival the majesty, hospitality and scenery of The Fairmont Banff Springs.

Canmore houses two of Canada's newest golf courses. SilverTip and Stewart Creek. SilverTip is a world-class, 7,200-yard championship course. Designed by the renowned golf architect Les Furber, SilverTip is as challenging as it is spectacular! Stewart Creek is a spectacular Par 72, 18 hole Mountain Golf Course and will take your breath away. Scenery and design combine to make an average day on the fairways a memorable event. This natural golf course is worthy of the highest honour: in fact, it has been rated the Second Best new course in Canada by Golf Digest's 19th Annual ranking. Visitors find Kananaskis a golfing paradise. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1983 and using his trademark with large sand traps, water and using the river running through these 36 holes of excellence makes it a course you won't forget. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, is the setting of unforgettable memories for thousands of golfers since the course opening in 1925. Stanley Thompson, 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. Highly acclaimed for its challenging layout and spectacular beauty, the Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club is rated by SCORE Golf Magazine as the #1 Best Golf Resort in Canada.

Calgary, remembered as the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, has come down with golf fever. More than half of the adult population plays the game of golf. While Calgary is home to some of the finest private golf clubs in the nation: Earl Grey, Calgary Golf Club, Glencoe and Priddis Greens to name a few. There is a fine collection of world-class facilities that are accessible to everyone. Heritage Pointe offers three fantastic nines laced with character and challenge. D'arcy Ranch is woven through coulees with outstanding bunkering and well-thought out greens. The Speargrass Golf Club is an unusual course (there are six par-3s, six par-4s, and six par-5s) with an unbelievable finish. The Links of Glen Eagles, host to the Calgary Classic of the Nationwide Tour, is a roller coaster of a course with plenty of challenges. Valley Ridge Golf & Conference Centre, long and hilly, it will test your entire game. Turner Valley Golf Club has a player-friendly country course with an excellent back nine. Elbow Springs gives golfers 27 holes of solid golf, with a creek meandering throughout. Springbank Links' terrain sends one 9-hole course racing through the coulees and another parading through the prairie, and is a difficult course when the wind blows. Lynx Ridge featuresa new layout with some great holes that overlook the city, while McKenzie Meadows is an extremely popular course in Calgary's far south. Meanwhile, Mapleridge and McCall Lake, two of Calgary's best and are very underrated.

Edmonton, Alberta's capital city is famous for the world's largest shopping mall. The West Edmonton Mall, it hosts over 800 stores and services including an amusement park and water park. Golf courses in and around the city each have their own challenges. Cougar Creek is a course nestled in a forest. It presents a championship test in every sense, with water hazards and generous bunkers waiting to snare the errant shots of golfers at almost every hole. The Ranch Golf & Country Club is the site of four Canadian Tour events. The Ranch's front nine is links-style in design, while the closing holes are more traditional. Blackhawk Golf Club is set on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, it features unobstructed river views and plunging elevation changes. Jagare Ridge Golf Club offers a memorable selection of risk-reward holes in landscape ranging from wetlands to old-growth forest.

In between Calgary and Edmonton is the Wolf Creek Golf Resort, a 27-hole links-style layout that ranks among Canada's very best facilities. Enormous waste bunkers, undulating dunes and rough make this a worthy test for even low-handicappers. From 1990 to 1999,Wolf Creek hosted the Canadian Tour's Alberta Open.