AROUND THE GREENS: Waterton Lakes Golf Club has a fascinating past

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Carved into a bank and surrounded by a mountain range, the Par-3 13 greene at Waterton Lakes Golf Club doesn’t look much bigger than your average parking space.

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My playing partner – and passenger on a memorable day trip – to this historic southern Alberta hangout – threw a clean eight iron and we watched 154 yards as his ball bounced once off the trick short, making a U-turn on the slope behind the putting surface, flowed back to the pin and then disappeared.

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He was delighted. His first hole-in-one.

One of the most notable holes at Waterton Lakes <a class=Golf Club is the par-3 13th, where it’s wise to take your shot off the slope behind the green. (Courtesy of Waterton Lakes GC)” class=”embedded-image__image lazyload” data-src=”″ data-srcset=”, 2x” height=”750″ loading=”lazy” width=”1000″/>
One of the most notable holes at Waterton Lakes Golf Club is the par-3 13th, where it’s wise to take your shot off the slope behind the green. (Courtesy of Waterton Lakes GC) .jpg

Legendary course designer Stanley Thompson would have loved it too – a brilliant use of the sign must have been exactly what he envisioned when he left his mark on this national park property.

Thompson, of course, needs no introduction to Canadian golfers. Waterton Lakes could.

About a two-and-a-half-hour drive south of the Calgary city limits, almost to the Canada-US border, this is one of Thompson’s less advertised amenities. This marks its centennial season.

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“The golf course opened in 1922 – it was nine holes with sandy greens – and Stanley Thompson redesigned it in 1928. It is our understanding that he redesigned some of the existing holes and it designed the outer holes,” the chef explained. professional Greg Pidlaski. “The really unique thing about Waterton Lakes is that we believe this golf course is almost completely unchanged from its design. We have irrigation plans from the 1930s and updated from the 1960s that show identical routes. I don’t know if you can play another course that would be untouched after all these decades. We have a lot of old people who maybe come back once a year or people who worked for Parks Canada in the 1960s and 1970s, they come back and they say it’s still the same layout, still exactly the same as they remembered it, although we are thinking of improving the conditioning, grooming and playability of the course and bringing the greens to a more modern standard where the ball rolls really fast.

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“But it’s an untouched layout, and it’s a favorite of a lot of people.”

Although this season is coming to an end soon, the Waterton Lakes should be on your must-see list for 2023. (Hey, it’s never too early to plan a golf trip, right?)

Although not in the same class as Thompson’s mountain masterpieces in Banff and Jasper, this place has rustic charm and an inexpensive green fee. As Pidlaski put it, “Our theme is perhaps a little closer to nature.”

The views are fantastic. The grass is firm and fast. The course is equal parts fun and funky – and feels particularly bound in a lingering breeze – and it’s never a surprise to see a bear wandering down one of the fairways.

“When I got here the number of bears I had seen I could count on one hand and it was all out the car window on a highway,” said Nick Plantje, now in his second season in as superintendent at Waterton Lakes. “But in a few weeks here, I saw one and I could continue my conversation with someone, as if nothing had happened. It’s like seeing a deer, I’ve gotten so used to it now.

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” It’s so cool. What an office. Sometimes I have to pinch myself.

Plantje is originally from Calgary.

Like so many others in his hometown, he knew little about Waterton Lakes National Park or the 6,120-yard setback just inside the entrance gates. Shortly after the interview, even before being offered the job, he hit the highway for a first look.

“I just fell in love with it. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been here yet,” Plantje said. “I had a lot of visitors last year, and everyone was shocked by the property and the views and the townsite and everything.”

While Waterton Lakes staff are proud of history, including its connection to Canada’s most famous course designer, the focus is on the future.

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This scenic layout is now operated by Lakeland Golf Management, with a roster of 11 facilities in Western Canada.

Plantje, which has revived several greens, deserves praise for the improved conditions.

A fleet of brand new electric carts has just arrived.

“We just wish more people would come try it out,” Pidlaski said. “It’s worth the trip. »

Indeed, it is.

And it’s from the guy who didn’t flush an ace.

Waterton Lakes has a delicious assortment of Par-3s, including a blind tee and a 242-yard brute that may have you checking your ego and pulling cover from your driver.

The highlight, however, is No. 13. Don’t be afraid to use the rear panel.

“The coolest thing about this hole is this slope behind the green, it’s half your landing zone. It’s half your goal,” Plantje said. either land on the green or land behind it, and that whole slope is about the same size as the green itself.

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“If I’m ever between two clubs there, I always use the longer one. I always try to play it on that back edge, that’s for sure.

CHIP SHOTS: The Glencoe Women claimed victory at the 2022 Alberta Interclub Championship at Kananaskis Country. Angie Folk, Joanne Hruska, Allison Warkentin and Jillian Wyne combined for a total of 4 out, six shots ahead of the competition. On the men’s side, Sirocco’s crew – Chad Gaudry, Dana Little, Dylan Nowkowski and Jason Renneberg – earned bragging rights with a score of less than 10… Lynx Ridge’s dynamic duo Matt Kirlin and Riley Fleming , repeated as champions at the PGA of Alberta Professional Assistant at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Thirty-nine teams finished in red numbers at the two-day event – ​​a mix of best ball, alternate shot and scrambling formats – but Kirlin and Fleming topped the pile at 13 under…Calgary’s Senan Foley, Red Deer’s Ken Griffith and Medicine Hat’s Kelly Risling won the team title for Alberta at the Canadian Senior Men’s Championship at Red Deer G&CC. The second-best group was 11 hits in the rearview mirror. Griffith, a member of the host club, finished third in the individual rankings – and first among the Canucks – at par 288, while Frank Van Dornick of Camrose prevailed in the super-senior division … Mark and Kyle Mossfeldt (Country Hills) have joins forces to win the Calgary Golf Association‘s best ball showdown at Speargrass. The father-son tandem led the senior field at 9-under 135. Tom Dixon and David Schultz, also of Country Hills, took the senior crown at 13-under 131.

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