Golfing in the Kootenay Rockies
by Hal Quinn
When the International Olympic Committee announced on July 2, 2003 that the city of Vancouver, BC and the resort Village of Whistler BC had been awarded the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the world was introduced to the scenic mountain splendours and the glorious recreational facilities of the two sites for the Games.
But as spectacular as Vancouver and Whistler are, they are just an appetizer to the vast array of beautiful recreation destinations within Canada’s most westerly province. British Columbia boasts superb golf courses throughout the province, and each season more golfers are discovering the Kootenay Rockies region. “This area has some of the most spectacular mountain golf in the world,” said Golden Golf and Country Club head professional Rick Crowson. “It is a unique experience to play golf literally right in the mountains. And it’s remarkable given the size of the communities that we have such exceptional golf at such great value.” Late summer and early autumn, in particular, attracts golfers for warm days and cool nights.
The southeast corner of British Columbia lies directly north from Idaho and the northwest corner of Montana. Easily accessible by road or air, the areas offer some of Canada’s most dramatic and inspiring natural beauty. The Kootenay Rockies provide an endless array of heart-stopping views, varied terrains, lush forests and vast, rolling valleys that seem to have been waiting through the millennia for the game – and celebrated golf course designers including Doug Carrick, Les Furber, Bill Robinson, Norman Woods, Bill Newis – to discover them. Added to the enticing mix of more than two dozen courses and golf resorts that range from five star, to family oriented to welcoming municipal facilities is a vast and dramatic landscape that places golfers never more than an hour’s drive — usually just minutes — from the next great course.
Ranked in the top three Best New Canadian Courses in 2001 by Golf Digest, St. Eugene Mission Golf Course is located outside the town of Cranbrook, in a wide valley beside the rambling St. Mary River and the new Delta St. Eugene Mission Resort and Casino. Nearby, Furber’s Bootleg Gap is also on the Kootenay Rockies ‘must play’ list. Like the St Eugene Mission Course, the ‘Gap’ traces the St. Mary River as it winds through the valley with spectacular mountain views and is complemented by a Furber-designed 9-hole short course.
Carved through mature trees, cruising down gentle grades and hugging creeks that come alive in spring, Kokanee Springs Golf Resort offers an away-from-it-all atmosphere on the shores of Kootenay Lake, accessed by the World’s Longest Free Ferry, just 30 minutes from Nelson.
Just a few scenic miles’ drive north is the historic mining town of Kimberley and the truly dramatic Trickle Creek Golf Resort, located on the slopes of North Star Mountain. The spacious Marriott Hotel, adjacent to the 18th tee, is an ideal setting for savouring the round on the Furber designed course – especially reminiscing about the stunning par 3 11th hole with snow-capped Rockies in the background.
With those jagged, timeless Rockies peaks creating an eastern horizon, the Mountainside at Fairmont Hot Springs offers golfers a welcome and soothing respite after challenging Mountainside's 'Fairmonster' 640-yard par five, 4th hole. Mountainside is now joined by the new Creekside Par 3 course. Designed by Bill Newis, Creekside has the first-ever chemical-free water system of streams and ponds. And it’s a lot of fun to play.
At the world famous Radium Hot Springs, travellers can not only take in the waters but also play The Springs and the Resort Course. Minutes south, near Invermere, is the Eagle Ranch Golf Resort designed by Bill Robinson. A great addition to the Columbia Valley collection, the Ranch, high in the bluffs over Invermere, has carries over gorges to greens framed by glistening bunkers.
Again, it’s just minutes away that the road winds through a gap in the Purcell Mountains to the stunning Panorama Mountain Village Resort. It is home to the Greywolf Golf Course, the Doug Carrick design that was named Best New Course in Canada in 1999 by Golf Digest. The 'Cliffhanger' 6th hole is perhaps the most dramatic par 3 in Canada. Copper Point, designed by outstanding architect Gary Browning of Calgary, will soon join the great courses around Invermere.
No visit to the Kootenay Rockies is complete without a spectacular ramble north from Invermere to Golden, BC. There, with glacier-capped peaks as a backdrop and Holt Creek running through it, the Golden GC is a mountain golf classic. And just east along the TransCanada Highway is another shining example in the mountains, the Revelstoke Golf and Country Club.
Kootenay Rockies offers travellers unrivalled natural beauty complemented by a wide-variety of great golf courses to suit every game and budget. An equally wide-variety of other outdoor recreational activities, world-class accommodations and spas, fine dining and sun-splashed summer and fall weather combines to earn the Kootenay Rockies the gold medal for golf destinations.
For More Information:
An excellent source for information on golf in BC is www.canadagolf.com/bc. For links to the all-season activities the region has to offer visit www.kootenayrockies.com. This all-inclusive website is an ideal place to start planning your Kootenay Rockies golf vacation, with up to the minute information on the courses, accommodations, restaurants, family activities – even the weather. Or you can contact Kootenay Rockies Tourism at 250-427-4838. For complete accommodation information visit www.HelloBC.com or call 1-800-Hello-BC.