My son Mark and I decided to drive 3 hours south of Calgary to play Waterton Lakes Golf Club, a secret gem of a course, the first nine designed in 1929 by Stanley Thompson who came back in 1939 and added 9 more holes. Before playing we drove into “town” and we found a beauty, a town with deer and goats wondering around, lots of nice restaurants, lots of US and Canadian license plates, and not very crowded, “very nice” as Mark said.
Between the town and the golf course we found the Prince of Wales Hotel. If it isn’t already in movies it should be!
Getting back to the reason we drove to Waterton – the golf course. We had to wait for a herd of male deers (antlered) to pass before we could park. Small friendly clubhouse, easy sign up (2 players at $47.00 plus cart $17.00, did not ask for Senior rate!), “first tee is open, off you lads go”.
What followed was 18 fun holes, a few short par fours, a few long par threes, a couple blind shots, and some interesting par fives. I could find many Thompson traces and since most of the course is unchanged, I was surpised by the number of greens that are also remindful of Donald Ross, as in upside down saucers. The 17th hole is one of the most fun, difficult par threes in golf. Uphill and 200 yards long it has an almost impossible green, a definite upside down bowl. I can imagine someone chipping from side to side a few times (Mark and I both chipped and putted for our pars!). Great vistas on all 18 holes (although a chap from Saskatoon told us after the round that he thought the mountains spoiled the view).
The course is certainly worth a visit and is the ideal course for 95% of today’s golfers. We noticed the majority of players were couples and play moved fast.
On the 9th hole we noticed a bear running towards us, in the rough to the right. Mark said “that’s a grizzly!” and we watched it pass, however Mark also noticed, on the putting green, a much larger bear, right behind a woman who was so into her putting that she did not notice, until a crowd came out of the clubhouse and made so much noise the bear left (we found out making noise is a good way to stay alive). Stopping on 10 (the starter asked us to let the bears go ahead as they had wondered down the 10th), I decided to go get two diet hot dogs for Mark and I. When I came back he was a bit whiter, the biggest bear had returned, walked around our cart, then run away. He/or she couldn’t wait for the hot dogs (which were excellent – one of the good foods you miss living on an island).
How much did we enjoy the round – I applied for a job!! When we asked about the bears, the manager told us it is usual to see bears (this is BEAR COUNTRY) but they seldom come this close. “If they come back we call the Park Wardens and they come and talk to them” he reassured us. Beauty, can’t wait to take my wife to see the town and the area.