Exploring the Rocky Mountains: Golf Travel to Canada
By Adam Stanley
Kananaskis Golf Club – Mt. Lorette
Travelling to Canada for golf has never been easier – or more affordable – and with plenty of options from coast-to-coast, it’s an easy destination to consider for your next golf trip.
A quick flight from almost all of the major cities in the United States, and a straightforward enough drive from most places in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, you can take advantage of mountain golf, ocean golf, and classic parkland-style golf courses across the country.
Food options abound - boasting local, fresh ingredients – while wineries dot the landscape, the craft beer scene is booming, and the cultural experiences are second-to-none at some of the world’s buzziest cities.
That said, all those opportunities merely enhance the great golf that exists north of the border.
Over the next month, we’ll showcase from West to East each of the four big regions for golf adventures with our neighbors to the north. Oh Canada, indeed!
ROCKY MOUNTAIN CANADA
Heading east from British Columbia, travellers in Canada will find themselves in the Canadian Rocky Mountains – and with plenty of incredible golf options.
Calgary, Alberta’s biggest city, is accessible from many American cities by plane and is the hub for mountain golf in Canada. Calgary’s also famous for the annual stampede, the rollicking summertime celebration of cowboy culture, while the province of Alberta boasts the best beef this side of Montana.
There are two iconic Stanley Thompson properties about a four-hour drive apart in the Canadian rocky mountains, and, oh, are they very much worth the commute.
Just 45 minutes from Calgary is the Fairmont Banff Springs. Boasting breathtaking views and incredible design, Banff Springs is one of Thompson’s best. The course also features, arguably, the greatest par three in the whole country, the Devil’s Cauldron.
The par-3 4th hole has an elevated tee with stunning views of the Rocky Mountain forest, located below the steep face of Mount Rundle, and a tee shot that carries over a glacial lake. The routing has changed since the original Stanley Thompson design opened in 1928, but the golf course itself remains the perfect example of Canadian rocky mountain golf.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is about 150 miles north. It’s annually ranked as one of the country’s top-3 layouts (Banff Springs is usually in the top five) and boasts stunning views combined with an incredibly fun design. Opened in 1925, Jasper Park Lodge has elevated tee boxes, distant mountain vistas, and dramatic bunkering. The par-4 14th, dubbed Lac Beauvert, is the first of a trio of holes around the namesake body of water.
The natural backdrops as both Jasper Park and Banff Springs are commonplace throughout the rest of your golfing options in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Closer to Calgary proper there are a strong handful of great layouts that will most certainly give you everything you’re looking for in terms of Instagram-worthy layouts.
Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club, Silvertip Golf Course, and Canmore Golf and Country Club are located in the town of Canmore, about an hour from Calgary’s downtown. Each of the three aforementioned courses feature impeccable conditioning, incredible views, and wonderful playing experiences.
Perhaps the best story of them all, in terms of golf in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, was the recent return of Kananaskis Country Golf Club’s two courses – Mt. Kidd and Mt. Lorette. Both courses were lost to a devastating flood in 2013 but re-opened in 2018 and have been thriving ever since under the fabulous leadership of 30-year PGA of Canada professional Bob Paley, who was named the Club Professional of the Year in 2009.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better 36-hole double dip in the whole country – and be sure to stop for a meal in their much-celebrated restaurant – and the experience is made even better when you know the recovery-effort backstory.
No matter where you end up in the Canadian rocky mountains, however, you’re bound to play some great golf, meet some great people, and come away with a phone full of photos.