This year, we re-visited California for our winter golf vacation and spent a few days at the beautiful Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, CA.
The golf itself included lots of great holes-
#3 is a short, pretty par 3 over a pond;
#7 has this amazing drop and is all downhill;
#8 is big downhill risk/reward par 5, green guarded by water;
#10 could be a drive over the water feature for a chance at the green in 2;
#18 is a long par four with water in play off the tee and on the approach.
The golf was a difficult test with lots of elevation changes; dramatic water features; uneven lies everywhere; large undulating greens that welcomes 3 putts. (2 putts for par feels like victory sometimes!)
Finally- some pictures. There really are no words to properly describe it but it’s fair to say that the pictures doesn’t truly do it justice!
Looking back from #3
Top of the world at #7
Approach on #8
Looking back at the 10th teebox
Ho Hum, another typical par 3 (#14)
The 16th Green
Coming home on the difficult #18
Here’s a compilation from the 2015 LPGA Kia Classic with real pros showing us bogey golfers how to drive over the water on #10 and hitting the green on #16.
Jasper Park Lodge is really beautiful. It is a little more secluded and less commercial than Banff and the course really works well into the land.
There are a good mix of really straight forward holes and difficult challenges where course knowledge really helps. But then again, even if you get distracted by your surroundings and miss a shot, the golf is still great, and the view is phenomenal so your golf attitude factor #GAF for JPL would be crazy high as one of my favourite golf blogger friend The Grateful Golfer would say.
Here are some shots from the weekend…
The par 5 10th
The typical tee box view
Hole#14 One of the toughest but more stunning holes
Beautiful but tough par 3 #9.
After a pretty tough first round, I learned a few things for the second… I better jot down these notes as a reminder for possible future rounds.
- Hole #3 is a blind tee shot so it was hit and hope the first round. The way to go is to hit a straight drive over the first tree on the right corner, it’ll fly onto the dogleg right fairway and leave a short iron in for the approach.
- Hole #8 is a tough one- a straight drive through a tight landing area leaves me with a long iron into the green. It might make sense to just take an iron of the tee to make sure the ball is in play.
- Hole #9 is a long downhill par 3, guarded by front bunkers. It’s an illusion from the tee box that the bunkers are right on the front lip of the green- it’s actually quite a far ways off. If you just fly over the right bunker, there’s actually a funnel of a fairway that should drain the ball down towards the green. I found out by accident when I faded a 5 iron of the right hand side and found myself in okay position with a downhill chip.
- Hole #12 par 3 is a huge green. Don’t over shoot it, there’s a deep bunker behind.
- Hole #13 has a blind approach to the green. It’s probably further right than you think.
- Hole #14 is the beautiful tee box over the lake onto the fairway. I long straight drive will actually get you into the forest through the fairway so maybe a 3w or hybrid is smarter.
- Hole #15 is the deceptively “easy” par 3 where you must hit the green. Short and it funnels 15 yards back down the hill. Left and it’s hazards. Right and it’s deep bunkers. It’s better to be longer and deeper in the green and be putting than too short. The green widens up when deeper as well.
- Hole #16- against my own actions, probably shouldn’t take driver and just land in the fat part of the fairway. Must stay right on the approach because the lake cuts deep, protecting the front of the green.
- Hole #18- No need to draw this, just hit the driver straight and the slope of the hill will bring everything back left.
We continued our mountain trip to Banff Springs Golf Course. Banff was ranked #6 in ScoreGolf’s top 100 courses in Canada for 2014. Compared to Stewart Creek and Silvertip, this was a much flatter and perhaps easier course. The course itself is very playable, complete with an occasional ‘wow’ hole framed by the mountains or by the Fairmont Banff Hotel.
We found Banff to be a nice balance between being tourist friendly and great views but to be honest, there are better deals/value for your golfing dollars just 20 minutes south of Banff in Canmore. For a course that is just as interesting and playable, I’d recommend Stewart Creek. In terms of pure visual sensory overload, you might want to check out Silvertip first.
Regardless, it was yet another excellent day of golf for the crunchy couple in the mountains!
Welcome to Banff Springs, a Stanley Thompson Design
This is the driving range backdrop
We actually had a huge storm brewing behind us all day long, chasing us all the way to the 18th and luckily, we finished just in time before thunder and heavy rain downpour got to us on the course. *phew*
Day 2 of our trip had us golfing the beautiful Silvertip golf resort.
One thing I’ll never get used to is the thin mountain air. I didn’t grab the right club out of the cart on hole #10 greenside. I thought I was 30 yards short of the green, but the ball was actually another 60 yards further back. So that meant a hike back up the mountain (across the fairway) to the cart, then back down to 90yards out, then back up 90 yards to the green, chip on, putt out, then hike back up the mountain slope to the cart. Wow, I was still trying to catch my breath for the next 2 holes afterwards from all that hiking!
Welcome to Silvertip!
A real pretty par 5. It doglegs right and then straight UPHILL to the pin
A fun par 4. I pulled my drive left of the tall single pine, hit the forest, bounced out and had 200y uphill left to the pin on the right! Hybrid to greenside in between the bunkers (phew), chipped on and putted out.
Looking back on to the tee box on the same par 4 hole
2nd shot on hole #18. We both landed on the right fringe from this area. Hard not to get distracted with the view instead!
For our annual mountain golf trip this year, we decided to stay on the Alberta side of the Rocky Mountains. While we love the BC side of things, there are a bunch of great courses right in our own back yard according to Score Golf’s top 100 courses in Canada.
Top 100 Canada
So we started off with the #35 ranked course according to Score- The Stewart Creek Golf Club in Canmore, Alberta.
Stewart Creek Golf Club
Of all the mountain golf courses we’ve played, I’d rank this course as one of the most playable of the mounatins courses with great elevation changes. Each hole is well designed with fair landing areas and interesting/challenging greens. Oh, and like all other mountain courses, the views are absolutely spectacular! My wife and I continued to reuse and overuse this word “Spectacular” throughout the week time and time again.
We did run into a little mix up that turned out to be quite funny. The golf marshal came by to warn us about a bear on the 5th hole while we were teeing off. However, he accidentally jumped into our cart with our clubs and drove off by the time we got off the tee box. He finally found his way back to us after we let a group play through and thoroughly apologized for the incident. It did break up our flow slightly but we definitely understand the need to try to both the bear and players safe from each other.
In the end, it was quite amusing and it made for a memorable round.
Now for some pictures…
Picture perfect opening hole
Pretty par 3. I ended up behind the back right bunker in some rough fescue. Was happy to just chip on and 2 putt out.
This might have been our bear warning hole?
Finishing our round on the beautiful downhill 18th.
One of our favorite course was Indian Canyons – South Course. My friend had played this course before last Christmas and insists on coming back and I can understand why. It’s secluded behind the mountains, quiet, and very scenic as you can see for yourself. The course is in great shape, including fast rolling greens and a nice practice area that we took advantage of. Also, finally, I started to get in touch with my driver again and made some progress with my irons to get back into my usual bogey golf range. That, combined with an afternoon of 27*C really capped off another amazing day of vacationing and golf.
Lucky my ball stopped rolling towards the drink! Lucky that I’m a righty in this situation.
Every hole is like a postcard!
From the practice green
Another nice shot right down the middle!
We played Palm Desert Country Club the next day, another well maintained public course that weaves in and out through a community.
Some people dislike playing so close to houses but it never bothers me- afterall, they should never be in play, right?
Well, I discovered why after my opening drive massively push sliced almost into someone’s back yard! Even the starter gave me a hearty “WOAH There!” 🙂
In the end, despite another very rusty round, we thoroughly enjoyed the course- helpful staff, everything was very open and fair with no blind shots and no unwanted surprises.
Another early morning start
Unbelievably green and lush in the middle of a desert