Golf In Edmonton: Always a Quality Course Nearby

By Andrew Penner, Contributor

Heading up to Edmonton on the raceway (a.k.a. Highway #2), most golfers find themselves slowing down a tad when passing by the Wolf Creek Golf Resort just north of Red Deer. Many Alberta golfers are familiar with "The Wolf" and its rustic elegance and Scottish charm. Just like Jasper, Banff, and Kananaskis, "The Wolf" is on the forefront when the subject turns to top-notch golf venues in Alberta. However, with a final destination one-hour north to Alberta's capital, there are other top-notch golfing options closer by when golf is on your mind.

In the first week of August, many of the world's top athletes will meet in Edmonton to see who can run the fastest, jump the highest, and no doubt choreograph the most tasteless post-medal celebration. At any rate, whether it's to cheer on athletes, gain new clients, or ride the roller coaster, you just may find a valid reason to head to Oiler land (with golf clubs in tow) this spring or summer. Who knows, perhaps you're already there.

The province of Alberta has an unsurpassed zest for the game of golf. The studies show that more people per capita in Wild Rose country "peg it up" than anywhere else in North America. Only fitting then, that our major centers provide ample opportunity for the lovers of the game to flaunt their stuff. Like Calgary, the city of Edmonton provides numerous venues for you to flex your shafts and watch your Pro V soar. The only thing that won't be soaring is the price of golf in Edmonton - it's less than you think!

The outlying areas of Edmonton offer the best golf. Rest assured, whether it's north or south, east or west, you're sure to find a quality course not far away.

IN THE NORTH

When in the north, a popular choice is the Goose Hummock Golf Resort. "The Goose," as it is affectionately known, is a long, mean, water-strewn machine. Not for the faint-of-heart or rookie player, the Goose is a demanding test, which is regarded as one of the tougher tracks in the Edmonton area. Basically, water is in play…everywhere. The 17th is the signature hole featuring a true island green. Trees shelter the tee box and protect it from the wind - club selection causes fits! Head north to Gibbons and you'll find "The Goose," just 25 minutes from the city limits. Bring an extra sleeve of balls.

Goose Hummock Golf Resort
Info: For tee times: (780) 921-2444
Website: www.golfthegoose.com
Green fees: $ 28 weekdays $35 weekends
Yardages/Ratings:
Championship tees: 6604 yards / 136 slope / 72.5 rating
Forward tees: 5400 yards / 126 slope / 71.2 rating

The Sturgeon Valley Golf Course is a semi-private favorite located just north of town in St. Albert. With a valley setting and a country atmosphere, the short trip here is worth your while. The Sturgeon Valley course is friendly and more forgiving - great on days when the sights are a little suspect. "Beware of the ‘beefed-up' ninth," says Head Professional Glenn Connell. With a green now sitting 60 yards further back than where it used to be, and the Sturgeon River hugging the entire right side of this hole eager to swallow your slice, the 425 yard, par-4 ninth is now a rock-solid finish to the outward nine. Boasting 45,000 rounds per year with an active membership, something good is going on in Sturgeon Valley.

Sturgeon Valley Golf Course
Info: For tee times: (780) 973-6700
Green fees: $20 for 9-holes / $33 for 18-holes (seven days a week)
Yardage/Ratings:
Championship tees: 6675 yards / 125 slope / 70.7 rating
Regular tees: 6260 yards / 120 slope / 68.7 rating
Forward tees: 5825 yards / 124 slope / 72.5 rating

IN THE WEST

The West Edmonton Mall, with its terrifying roller coaster, feel-good amusement park, enormous indoor water park, and kazillions of retail outlets, is truly the most recognizable "mall" (off the top of my head, I can't think of another mall that offers a realistic ¼ mile submarine ride) in the world. In fact, I'd guarantee a salivating experience for any kid or shopping addict alike. Obviously the strongest "shopping" quadrant, the western part of the city could very well be the strongest golfing quadrant as well. Regardless, the western part of Edmonton and areas just outside, offer numerous opportunities for the golf ball-striking kind.

The Cougar Creek Resort, a half-hour west of Edmonton on the Yellowhead Highway, is a fairly new championship layout cut between tall pines and rolling hills. Framed by numerous creeks and ponds (17 of 18 holes feature water - bring a dingy), the Cougar Creek course is long and challenging. The setting is pristine and tranquil - a welcome break from the fast-paced sights and sounds of city life. With a slope of 139 from the tips, it's recommended that the average "Joe" tackle this test from the regular tees. With excellent dining and practice facilities, Cougar Creek is a great golf course that's sure to please the company you're with.

Cougar Creek Golf Resort
Info: For tee times: (780) 892-4545
Green fees: $35 weekdays / $40 weekends
Yardages/Ratings:
Championship tees: 6847 yards / 135 slope / 72.5 rating
Regular tees: 6556 yards / 131 slope / 71.2 rating
Forward tees: 5205 yards / 122 slope / 70.3 rating

Also in the west, the Links at Spruce Grove is a popular choice. A well-groomed, lengthy challenge lined with trees, The Links at Spruce Grove is championship golf in a natural setting. As a qualifying course for the Edmonton Telus Open, competitors were unable to "take it low" due to the sternness of this track. "The par-5 second is a testament to what's required when pegging it up at Spruce Grove," says Associate Pro Gerry Collett. This true three-shotter demands a precise lay-up to attack the flag on a green protected by water left, bunkers long, and trees to the right. Although the "links" part of Spruce Grove may be slightly misconstrued (the course is well treed - Scottish "links" courses are wind-swept and generally treeless) Spruce Grove is nonetheless a solid test of golf.

The Links at Spruce Grove
Info: For tee times: (780) 962- 4653
Green fees: $33 weekdays / $39 weekends
Yardage/Ratings:
Championship tees: 6767 yards / 125 slope / 71.0 rating
Regular tees: 6284 yards / 119 slope / 68.9 rating
Forward tees: 5748 yards / 126 slope / 72.0 rating

IN THE SOUTH

Boasting a sand-strewn layout designed by a master of the craft (Robert Trent Jones Sr.), the Ironhead Golf Course is a shot-makers delight. Although thirty-five minutes southwest of town, Ironhead is a worthwhile journey to a picturesque course hugging the shores of Lake Wabamun. The layout is strong and the price you'll pay for the work of Robert Trent Jones is almost laughable (just $25 for 18 holes on the weekend). Ironhead is tough as nails and it doesn't take long for the course to clench its teeth and show its grit. The first, a hazard-strewn par-5 of 528 yards throws an ample challenge at you off the bat. With 96 sand traps thrown about, it's recommended you bring a well-trained sand game to Ironhead.

Ironhead Course
Info: For tee times: (780) 892-4653
Green fees: $20 weekdays / $25 weekends
Yardages / Ratings:
Championship Tees: 6805 yards / 132 slope / 72.0 rating
Regular Tees: 6404 yards / 126 slope / 70.5 rating
Forward Tees: 5444 yards / 124 slope / 70.4 rating

One of many semi-private clubs in the Edmonton area, The Coloniale Club in the southeast quadrant (in Beaumont) offers a testy track on the edge of town. With golden grain fields, stands of oaks, and tall prairie grasses enveloping this property, the Coloniale epitomizes what prairie golf is all about. The crickets chirp, the swallows dart about, and the wind brings all the smells of the prairie life to all that walk the fairways of The Coloniale. The par-5 fifteenth, which used to play a whopping 649 yards from the back tee (now a mere 570), has humbled many golfers seeking glory. Call five days in advance for a time.

The Coloniale Club
Info: For tee times: (780) 929-4653
Green fees: $45 including cart & range (Mon. - Tue) / $55 including cart & range (Wed - Sun)
Yardage's / Ratings:
Championship tees: 6626 yards / 132 slope / 71.7 rating
Regular tees: 6246 yards / 123 slope / 69.8 rating
Forward tees: 5676 yards / 131 slope / 73.5 rating

IN THE EAST

Perhaps one of the most exciting new courses in all of Canada will be the new Jack Nicklaus course opening up later this fall in Sherwood Park, just east of Edmonton. Named "The Northern Bear," this world-class course (it's currently being seeded) is eagerly anticipated by golf addicts throughout the area. Regarded by Jack himself as one-level better than Glen Abbey (the famed Canadian Open site), The Northern Bear is sure to catapult its way to the top of most lists when top-notch golf is considered in the Edmonton area. Unfortunately for most of us, the Northern Bear will be accessible only in 2002 - we'll have to be patient!

Sherwood Park also offers a much more open and busier public course in The Broadmoor. Many top-ranked players have come from here and the course prides itself in that. This 40 year-old Norman Woods design is mature and easily accessible by the active membership who live nearby. The Broadmoor is a local favorite and tee-times can be tough to come by. Call three days in advance to secure your spot.

The Broadmoor Golf Club
Info: For tee times: (780) 467-7373
Green fees: $28 weekday / $34 weekend
Yardage's / Ratings:
Championship tees: 6611 yards / 124 slope / 70.0 rating
Regular tees: 6285 yards / 119 slope / 69.0 rating
Forward tees: 5594 yards / 120 slope / 69.8 rating

THE PRIVATE COURSES

If you're privileged to have an opportunity to join a member and play a private track in Edmonton, you'll experience some of the best golf the city has to offer. The following courses feature pristine fairways with a "members and guests only" sign at the gate.

Edmonton Country Club - In 1996 when Edmonton hosted the duMaurier Championship of the LPGA tour, the Edmonton Country Club played host. A traditional Stanley Thompson gem in the heart of the city, the Edmonton Country Club features small greens and loads of charm. Originally built in 1896, the storied history and stirring elegance at the ECC leaves its guests wanting more.

Edmonton Petroleum Club - The Petroleum Club is a dynamite layout offering a bit of everything. Designed by Mark McCumber, the course is regarded as one of Edmonton's best. The three closing holes make up the best finishing stretch in Edmonton.

Mayfair - Built 78 years ago by Stanley Thompson, Mayfair is usually ranked the best in terms of course conditioning and aesthetic appeal. Tight, tree-lined and well designed by one of the greatest ever, Mayfair plays long with a healthy dose of difficult par-4's.

Glendale - With an active membership consisting of over 100 single digit handicappers, Glendale is the "players choice" in Edmonton. Plenty of elevation change and a recent makeover by Graham Cooke put Glendale on the forefront when great golf is considered in Edmonton.

Windermere - Built in 1957, Windermere is regarded by many as the best test of golf in Edmonton. Long, tree-lined, and traditional, this C.E. Robinson course is better than most. It finishes with a meaty uphill par-4 of 450 yards where par is tough to come by.

Whether it's oil, athletes, or the thrills and spills of West Edmonton Mall you seek, a trip to Alberta's capital is bound to be better with titanium hooks in hand. Of course, whether you take a trek just out of town to try a country course or stay within the cityscape, a day of golf in Edmonton is kind of like a day of golf just about anywhere - it beats the daylights out of work.

Important Events in Edmonton:

Edmonton Telus Open - June 28-July 1, Edmonton C.C.
Klondike Days - July 19-28
World Triathlon Championship - July 21,22
2001 World Championship In Athletics - August 3-12
Edmonton Heritage Festival - August 4-6
Edmonton Folk Music Festival - August 9-12

Andrew PennerAndrew Penner, Contributor

Andrew Penner is a longtime member of the Canadian PGA. Author of "One Flew Over the Caddyshack," he also writes for a number of magazines throughout Canada and the U.S.


Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment