SaltWire's Ask a Journalist: You have questions, let's find some ...
What you need to know about COVID-19: July 3
The latest on Nova Scotia's mass shooting
The latest weather columns and browse beautiful photos from Cindy Day
SaltWire's cartoonists bring heart and humour to the news.
NOW Atlantic: Smart thinking for a changing world
Visit SaltWire.com for more of the stories you want.
Hole 15 at Nanton Golf Club. (Supplied photo)
The opening hole at Strathmore Golf Club (Supplied photo)
Hole 10 at Turner Valley Golf Club (Supplied photo)
It’s not going to be easy to score a tee-time this season.
You’ve probably already realized that.
Calgary has always been a golf-crazed city. Now, more than ever, divot-diggers are anxious to get out of the house during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And with some courses increasing the gaps between tee-times to ensure social-distancing, you really need to be on the ball to find a game at your usual hangout.
Bad news? Hardly.
It’s great for the golf industry, especially after a delayed opening, and it’s a perfect excuse to test out some new tracks this summer.
Maybe it’s time for another sort of country-clubbing — a drive through the country to one of the many rural courses in this area. And I’m not just talking about the obvious options.
Although these will be busy too, they might not book up quite as fast. Just don’t leave it to the last minute or you’ll be stuck doing yard-work again. (And please, obey all the guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.)
You can’t carpool with your buddies just yet, but gas prices are low and you might enjoy the peace and quiet of the commute. Plus, when you venture a little ways outside of city limits, you’ll likely save a few bucks on your green-fee.
All within an hour’s drive, depending on what part of the city you call home, here are a few faves that might not immediately come to mind when you are pondering your next round. Working kinda-sorta clockwise from the north, all are worth the trip …
Sundre Golf Club : This tree-lined track is a personal favourite, and its reputation for top-notch conditioning is well-deserved. It’s a lot easier from the short grass but if a shot strays onto the shredded mulch at Sundre, you can imagine you’re hitting from the pine-straw at Augusta and try to pull off a great escape.
Water Valley : From ringing the bell on the dogleg seventh to climbing the tower to check if the fairway is clear on No. 15, this rolling layout is kind of quirky, totally charming and heavy on fun-factor. If you hit ’em straight, you could have a shot at a career-best score.
Strathmore : It’s been too long since I’ve been there, but I’ve always been a big fan of the fifth assignment at Strathmore, a short and splashy Par-4 with an almost-island green. If my memory serves, just don’t miss short, left, right or long on the approach and you’ll be fine.
Speargrass : The signature hole at Speargrass — No. 17 on your scorecard — is a stunner, with a skinny fairway that hangs over the Bow River. Whether you crank your tee-shot onto the green or spoil a good round by leaving one in the shrubbery, it’s likely what you’ll be thinking about on the drive home.
Nanton : It doesn’t get much more relaxing than the stroll through the poplars on Nanton’s front nine, although your heart-rate will spike a bit as you try to steer your shots between the trees. On a more open back nine, the big challenge is keeping your ball dry.
Turner Valley : This historic course celebrates its 90 th anniversary in 2020. I’m especially fond of Hole 10, a downhill Par-3 that sits beside the clubhouse and is backdropped by the Sheep River. If you drain an ace, you can buy a celebratory drink before you even retrieve your ball.
LivingStone : No rakes? No problem. This nine-hole track on the road to the Rockies — an easy exit off Trans-Canada Highway at Sibbald Creek Trail — doesn’t have a single sand-trap. You’ll enjoy the scenery even more if you’re taking a rip at the green from the elevated tees at No. 7.
From Coyote Creek and Carstairs to Muirfield Lakes and the unique mix at Highwood, there are many more to choose from, so expand your play-list and be sure to tell your pals when you find a pleasant surprise.
HAVE YOU HEARD?
Boulder Creek, located just east of the city in Langdon, is now under new ownership.
That’s a relief because the 18-hole hangout was in receivership, its future in serious doubt. It would have been a shame to see another affordable, family-friendly option gone from the local golf scene.
The new owners have course conditioning atop the priority list and have some upgrades and changes in mind.
You can check them out online at bouldercreekgolf.ca.
HAVE YOU PLAYED?
For some of you, this is old news. But if you haven’t teed it up at city-owned McCall Lake since a major renovation project was completed last summer, you really should go back.
The ninth hole, previously an awkward dogleg and now a straight-shot eagle opportunity along the edge of the water hazard, is much-improved.
And I can tell you from my weekend round, following three days of steady rain, that efforts to prevent flooding and improve drainage on the finisher have made a big difference.
Although there are not many planes coming and going during the pandemic, you’ll be hoping a 737 or cargo jet is on the descent as you play McCall Lake’s fifth, now a Par-5 after the modernization and redesign. On that flight path, you feel like you could almost reach up and tickle the fuselage.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020