- Paul Graham-Fielding
Edmonton - More than just the oil capital of Canada
Edmonton, in the province of Alberta is the westernmost prairie region of Canada, and the capital city offers over 50 golf courses for your consideration. With summer temperatures averaging 22C and daylight hours exceeding 16 during June and July, you will experience exceptionally well manicured layouts and world class hospitality and service. Here is our list of the must play properties in the region.
Northern Bear Golf Club
Just a short 20-minute drive from downtown Edmonton, Northern Bear Golf Club is the only Jack Nicklaus designed track in this golf crazy prairie province. As is customary for Golden Bear projects, a premium is placed on the long game at this par 72 championship layout.
Driving the ball is paramount as the strategically laid out holes require you to approach the undulating and perennially fast greens from the proper side of the fairway. The creative use of bunkers and swales will have you favoring the safe target on most holes as the penalties for missing greens on the short side can be costly.
There are several environmentally sensitive natural areas that give this course a feel unlike any other in the area. Carved through a boreal forest, there is a sense of solitude when you play Northern Bear, for you never seem to encounter another group during your round.
RedTail Landing Golf Course
When you fly into the metropolis of Edmonton, your final descent takes you over Redtail Landing Golf Course, as complete a test of golf as you can find in the area. The combination of natural dunes, pure bent grass greens and a clever routing through lakes and creeks will force you to hit every club in your bag.
There are forced carries from tee boxes, tight chutes into greens and blind approaches obscured by dunes to satisfy even the most eager of players. It is the pureness of the putting surfaces, however, that make this Puddicombe layout such a desirable challenge.
The subtle breaks and hidden contours will often leave you scratching your head but start a putt on the correct line and watch it roll surely into the hole. If you want to experience a PGA tour-like set of greens and a world class practice area, put Redtail Landing on your short list when in the capital city of Alberta.
Goose Hummock Golf Resort
With water in play on 14 of the holes, The Goose Hummock Golf Resort will test your patience as well as your ball striking abilities. The course is named for the estimated 500 Canada Geese that return here from the southern hemisphere every year to add future generations to the family tree. With a true island green par 3 that rivals the TPC at Sawgrass, the 17th hole is always a memorable challenge, but may not be the signature hole of this par 71 championship design.
Situated 25 minutes from the city center, this is the epitome of target golf, where most shots carry a high risk/reward quotient. One can overpower many of the shots here, but any wayward attempts will usually land in a watery grave, so you would be well advised to take what the course gives you and certainly wait to pick your spots.
As a final word of warning, keep the ball below the hole on this radically contoured putting surfaces, as downhill putts can be extremely difficult, even for the most skilled.
The Ranch Golf & Country Club
Just five minutes west of the Edmonton city limits is The Ranch Golf & Country Club, a regular stop on the former CPGA tour and a favorite of the local players for its varied design and exceptional conditioning. Starting on the shared tee box of numbers 1 and 10, where your drive must carry the lake that separates the two holes, you understand quickly that you will experience a wide variety of challenges during your round.
Several elevation changes offer you tee balls down to landing areas in fairways or to small green complexes on par 3’s which add to the degree of difficulty as well as the fun factor.
Interesting tidbit of information, the uphill par 4 twelfth hole is the only one without a greenside bunker and ranks as the most difficult on the entire course. Four sets of tees make this a fair test for all skill levels of players and the proximity to the city of Edmonton means you will have plenty of time to enjoy other activities in your day.
Coloniale Golf & Country Club
Head ten minutes south of town and you will arrive at Coloniale Golf & Country Club, a subdivision golf course that winds through several neighbourhoods’ in the bedroom community of Beaumont Alberta. Swirling winds and hilly terrain provide more challenge than simply yardages and pin positions can offer up, and you will find yourself calculating distances and picking lines that are often unconventional.
Water is the dominant hazard to be found and is quite effectively incorporated in the architecture of the par 3’s and par 5’s, which make club selection and ball flight especially important if you are to experience success at Coloniale. Greens are receptive and undulating, which adds to the fairness and complexity of this par 72 Championship track.
Jagare Ridge Golf Club
A shotmakers paradise, this southside gem is another fine example of a golf course that is playable by all skill levels, in that length is not a significant advantage here. Set in a river valley, there are many holes that incorporate the ridge that borders the waterway leading to a plethora of uphill, downhill and sidehill shots. Small greens lend to the target golf feel that is never more evident than standing on the tee boxes of several of the longer holes and realising that a layup to the landing area is the prudent play.
Jagare Ridge Golf Club offers holes where you can hit the big stick, choose wisely and let it fly when the opportunity presents itself, but understand that patience is not only a virtue, it is also a stroke saver. Jagare, as the locals call it, is sometimes overlooked but should never be underestimated when planning an outing in the Edmonton area.
The Quarry Edmonton
Featuring 27 outstanding holes, this beauty along the shores of the North Saskatchewan river on Edmonton’s north side is the newest edition to the areas vast array of championship loops. With an outstanding mix of elevation changes, natural water hazards and centuries old dunes and mounding, The Quarry is a study in developing a property to suit its original traits and style.
Large undulating greens that are smooth, fast and react to poor shots as fairly as they do to great ones, add to the enjoyment factor of this spectacular layout. The three distinct nines can be played in any sequence and will never disappoint, your favourite route may change depending on the day you play them. Be sure to book the Quarry when in the Capital region of Alberta, it will prove to be a most memorable 27 holes.