SCORE GOLF has a fine publication now at most golf courses and bookstores (for $7.99 or less) called CANADA’S PUBLIC COURSE RANKINGS. They have an excellent panel of 114 course raters from across the country, and to me they have come up with a very useful set of provincial rankings, and more importantly, each province has additional information about the next tier of courses. The Alberta list is as follows, with a few comments from me (the last panel I was on was the Globe’s many years ago, when I was more relevant).
1. Jasper Park It has the WOW and the FUN factors, plus it stood first in the panel’s 8 points. Good choice, pricey.
2. Banff Springs In spite of it’s bunkers, and price, Banff is my favourite.
3. Stewart Creek A favourite of several friends, I have not ante’d up yet.
4. Wolf Creek – Original Course. Rod Whitman’s cool “links”, a good study by the quiet man of Canadian design (until Cabot Links fully opens in Cape Breton)
5. Kananaskis – Mt Kidd My second favourite in the province, great value and superb design, a fun course by Robt Trent Jones Sr.
6. Kananaskis – Mt Lorette More elevation changes than Kidd, but I don’t like it as much. The back nine is quite different from the front and the other 18, it’s more Les Furber than Trent Jones, and fun!
7. Links of Gleneagles Mark and I have played it quite often, taking advantage of their Twilight rate. The first hole would be an ideal 16th hole, but a strange first hole. Nice Les Furber, but I prefer Darcy Ranch or River Spirit.
8. Heritage Pointe – Desert and Heritage The best greens in Alberta (IMHO), fast and very contoured. Ron Garl is a fine designer from Lakeland Florida and with the exception of the first hole on Heritage, did a good job.
9. Northern Bear Good pedigree but I have yet to meet someone who likes the tract.
10. Paradise Canyon Don’t know the course, don’t like the name (is that reason enough not to visit it?)
11. Sirocco Excellent condition with a private feel.
12. Innisfail Have no knowledge of the course, thought it was south of Barrie.
13. Silver Tip Should be rated higher, must be Les Furber factor.
14. The Ranch Not sure yet, heard good things.
15. Wolf Creek Links Rod Whitman has expanded his course to 36 holes and this second course is worth the stop.
Calgary has 6 muni courses run by the city and enjoyed by Seniors and other players in this golf-crazy town. Shaganappi is my favourite, and I’m playing ti Monday (short and fun course). Waterton Lakes is also a favourite of mine, just a bit of a drive.