Often overlooked by neighbouring states in the USA as a golf destination, but the number and quality of golf courses is equally impressive and this diverse country has so much to offer holidaymakers.
Canada is often overlooked by neighbouring states in the USA as a golf destination, but the number and quality of golf courses is equally impressive and this diverse country has so much to offer holidaymakers.
The Canadian Rockies comprise the segment of the North American Rocky Mountains range and are truly one of the top natural wonders of the world, internationally renowned for stunning scenery, clean air, and the quiet of unspoiled wilderness, although look out for the occasional grizzly bear.
There are a variety of golf courses to choose from, in the area of Alberta alone there are 275 and all of them are unique in their own way. Playing golf in such a fabulous setting is the icing on the cake. Banff is an alpine town in south Alberta where Stanley Thompson, Canada’s master golf architect, designed the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course in 1928. The course winds along beside the pristine wilderness of the Bow River overlooked by the snow-capped peaks of Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle. A further nine holes were added in 1989 resulting in 27 holes of championship layout, guaranteed to provide a panoramic challenge. The course is also an excellent venue for spotting Banff’s robust elk population that also wander around the town to avoid predators in the park.
Overlooking the golf course is the magnificent Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, styled after a Scottish baronial castle. The hotel has unrivalled views and offers luxurious accommodation and first-class facilities including a European-style spa. More affordable accommodation can be found in the modest town of Canmore at Banff Boundary Lodge, which is only a 15 minute drive from the centre of Banff. Located in Canmore is Silvertip, another championship golf course that is as challenging as it is spectacular. From its naturally elevated mountainside location, golfers can enjoy 360-degree views overlooking the Bow Valley corridor deep into the heart of the wilderness.
Less than an hour’s drive from Banff is the Kananaskis golf courses, named after the mountains, Lorette and Kidd which now tower over them. Designed by Robert Trent Jones in the early 1980s, these two 18-hole courses were carved from the Kananskis River Valley and the cascading river is now a constant companion when playing the courses which share more than 600 acres of fairways and include 142 between them.
Head north to another Alpine town called Jasper, one of Canada’s most popular holiday destinations. Situated in the middle of Jasper National Park, one of the largest Rockies’ parks, it is an ideal base from which to explore. Jasper Park Lodge is an Alpine-like village and accommodation includes authentic cedar chalets and log cabins. The highly rated golf course features wide fairways carved through thick forest, dramatic bunkering and of course, wonderful scenery.
When you are not playing golf, there is a multitude of other outdoor activities to enjoy including hiking, mountain climbing, horseback riding and whitewater rafting. The Bow Glacier Falls Trail in Banff National Park leads you up a narrow gorge and onto the crest of a glacial moraine, while the Maligne Canyon in Jasper is one of the most spectacular gorges in Canada and the trail takes you across six bridges. The best time to view and photograph the masses of wildlife, particularly bears and moose is in early spring and autumn and to guarantee coming face to face with a grizzly bear, book an organised tour.
How to get there
Fly to Calgary International Airport in Alberta Air Canada flies several times daily from Heathrow to Calgary (10 hours) www.aircanada.ca
When to go
Golf season in the mountains runs from mid-May to mid-October. The weather is variable in such dramatic terrain so always pack your rain gear. Average summer temperatures are in the 70°s Fahrenheit (high 20°s Celsius). Humidity is low, especially in the mountains and it is pleasant, warm and never extremely hot for summer golf
Based on two people sharing, per room per night:
The Fairmont Banff Springs from $370 visit www.fairmont.com
Banff Boundary Lodge from $140 visit www.banffboundarylodge.com
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge from $279 visit www.fairmont.com
Jasper Inn Motel from $243 visit www.jasperinn.com
Banff Springs $219
Silvertip $175 or $125 (mid afternoon)
Jasper Park $180
Fast food to casual and extravagant fine dining is available.Tips or service charges are not usually added to a bill in restaurants. In general, tip approximately 15 to 20% of the bill amount based on service quality.