Golf Gems Around the Dinosaur Trails
It’s a warm Chinook wind that howls over the hills across the Oldman River Valley and, thankfully, on the par-5 13th hole at the beautiful Paradise Canyon Golf Resort in Lethbridge, it’s right at my back. I pull the head cover off my driver and try to launch one to the moon. I catch it solid and hit, perhaps, the longest drive of my life.
Paradise Canyon is a riverside gem and one of the premier resort courses in Alberta. The layout has it all: driveable par-4s, dramatic downhill tee shots, reachable par-5s, and short-andsweet par-3s. All encased in a sublime natural setting along the postcard-pretty Oldman River in West Lethbridge.
Long drives aside (I hit plenty of short, nondescript ones as well), my entire whirlwind golf tour through rural Alberta has had many moments to remember. As I found out, when you’re blazing an uncharted golf “trail,” the road becomes your own. And, not surprisingly, there are hundreds of options.
Considering the quantity, quality, and the diversity of the golf offerings in the southern and central regions of the province, choosing where to play can be a dizzying proposition. From Lethbridge to Leduc, and everywhere in between, there are dozens of courses that merit a visit. Mountain-forested, desert, parkland, and sprawling prairie courses are all represented.
If it’s truly a golf getaway, plan your trip around the courses you want to play. Everything else comes into focus when you have a general “trail” to travel. Making a list of “must sees” is also important. And, of course, allow plenty of time to smell the flowers along the way. Road trippin’ when you’re rushed and behind schedule can seriously dampen the experience!
So what are those top rural Alberta courses you’ll want to plan your trip around? Here’s a few of the courses I chose on my recent trip and my reasons why.
Sirocco Golf Club, Calgary
Cruising through the pretty and pastoral confines of Pine Creek Valley just south of Spruce Meadows, the Sirocco GC is a secluded, semi-private course that never disappoints. From the gorgeous clubhouse on the hill, the massive gently-rolling greens, and the difficult finishing run that swerves along the creek, Sirocco is the type of course you could play every day and never tire of its beauty and challenge.
Paradise Canyon Golf Resort, Lethbridge
The peaceful riverside setting at Paradise Canyon is tough to beat. The layout features numerous perched tees, beautiful bunkering, and plenty of rock-solid holes that careen along
the river. Without a doubt, this is one of the best places to play in southern Alberta. On your way down from Calgary, you can visit the Bar-U Ranch, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, or historic Fort McLeod, to name a few!
Desert Blume Golf Club, Medicine Hat
If isolated holes framed by creeks and steep-walled coulees sound appealing; you’re going to love Desert Blume. The bold, contemporary design features plenty of elevation change
and a dramatic collection of one-of-a-kind desert holes. For some reason, it often flies under the radar. But make no mistake, every facet of your game will be tested at Desert Blume. Pack your A-game!
Dinosaur Trail Golf Club, Drumheller
The word “unique” hardly does this one justice! Buckle-up for an amazing roller-coaster ride through the badlands on an eclectic and exciting back nine. With fairways that careen through the ancient coulees, rock formations and greens that hug deep ravines, this is an experience to savour. While the front nine couldn’t be more different (it’s traditional parkland golf), the two nines at Dinosaur Trail yield one of Alberta’s most interesting golf experiences.
Wolf Creek Golf Resort
The two exceptional courses at Wolf Creek – The Old Course and The Links Course – serve up the quintessential rural golf experience. Rustic and unpretentious with design themes that includes sod-walled pot bunkers, massive waste bunkers, and grass-capped dunes, (inspired by the old world Scottish game) Wolf Creek is an exhilarating place to play. If you can, walk the course(s), play in any weather conditions, and revel in the timeless traditions of Wolf Creek.
Innisfail Golf Club, Innisfail
This club, which boasts three terrific nines, is, without a doubt, one of the most scenic places to play in Alberta. Gently rolling terrain, glass-smooth lakes, and towering trees provide the stage for some of the best golf holes in Wild Rose Country. A warm and inviting atmosphere with a gorgeous new clubhouse, and exceptional course conditions make this a “can’t miss” course when planning your rural Alberta golf tour.
Regardless of where you choose to play rural golf tours through central and southern Alberta are bound to bring rewards. Hopefully you take time to visit a few of the “extras” along the way. And, just as hopefully, when the wind is at your back, you hit plenty of long, straight drives and all your birdie dreams come true.
Photos and Story by: Andrew Penner
For more great golfing in Western Canada Visit ExperienceDinosaurTrails.com/Golf