Sympatico Column: Zokol's Sagebrush Course Comes to Life

The 14th at Sagebrush -- A bold golf hole on a course full of long views.

The 14th at Sagebrush -- A bold golf hole on a course full of long views.

My latest Sympatico column is now online. It centres on my trip to B.C. last week and a round I played with Richard Zokol. A full review of Sagebrush is forthcoming, but I really liked the place.

Here’s a taste of the column:

Under the blazing sun, Richard Zokol stands in the seventh fairway at Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club and demonstrates how to hit a low hooking 5-wood.The ball hits a maximum height of five feet before hitting the firm turf and rambling down a sharp hill.
“That’s what the ground game is all about,” says Zokol, 51, the former PGA Tour winner from Vancouver.
For a decade, the concept of Sagebrush, located about 45 minutes east of Kamloops in the B.C. interior, bounced around in Zokol’s ever-active mind. He wanted to create an ultra-private golf course that would offer an experience unlike any other in Canada. Memberships would cost hundreds of thousands and only a few dozen would become part of the club. Zokol envisioned the club as being centered on the concept of minimalist golf, a theory that embraces the natural landscape en route to creating a rugged golf course where every element fit in with its surroundings.It took Zokol years, but his vision has finally played out. Sure the exclusive membership idea died when the economic slowdown hit last year, and more than 30 residential lots on the property have gone unsold while Zokol and his partners wait for a rebound in the real estate market. But Zokol’s concept of a unique hills-and-desert course where golf is played as much along the ground as in the air remains intact.
“Sure playing golf along the ground as well as in the air is outside of the imagination of a lot of golfers in North America,” Zokol explains later, sipping on a beer and casting for fish in a pond next to the course’s halfway house, called “The Hideout.” “But that’s because the industry is full of cookie-cutter courses. I knew if we built what we set out to do, we’d be differentiated from anything else in Canada.”


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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • It seems new courses are embracing “the minimalist way” in design and maintenance. Some golfers will never like them but those who “get it” love them. Tarandowah in Ontario comes to mind as another course that has the same theme and golfer reaction.

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