Pure Mountain Golf

July 22, 2020 | By Andrew Penner

The mountain golf genre has always held a special place -  a lofty place! - in the minds of the most discerning golfers in the sport. Blasting balls from elevated tees amid soaring peaks, rushing rivers, and pristine forests is, and always will be, an awesome way to experience the game. And, without a doubt, in and around Cranbrook are some of the finest mountain golf courses in not just British Columbia, but all of North America.

Not surprisingly, every one of the great courses in the area -Wildstone, St. Eugene, Shadow Mountain, and the Cranbrook Golf Club – has a couple of holes where the “wow” factor is off-the-charts. Such is the nature of mountain golf! And, while beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, it's undeniable that the following holes have that extra special “gift” of greatness.

The par-4 5th at Wildstone.
Credit: Andrew Penner

Wildstone Golf Course – Hole 5, Par-4, 360 yards -

The downhill 5th at Wildstone, the first Gary Player-designed golf course in Canada, is one of many memorable holes on this beautifully-sculpted layout. Characterized by broad fairways, gorgeous white-sand bunkers, cunning green complexes, and a super-challenging finishing run, Wildstone is the type of course that you could play (and walk!) every day. And it would never get old. And the 5th, which is drivable for long hitters, is always a highlight of the round. Framed by a pond and the stunning mountain view beyond the green, this hole is the perfect “selfie” spot! 

Chris Andrews, General Manager at Wildstone, pitching onto the 5th green.
Credit: Andrew Penner

St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino – Hole 12, Par-3, 201 yards –

Designed by prolific Canadian architect Les Furber, the super-scenic layout at St. Eugene takes golfers on a variety-filled journey through open, links-like terrain, a serene riverside setting, and dramatic mountainous terrain. And the par-3 12th, which plunges down the hill to a green protected by pines and a swarm of bunkers is, perhaps, the most thrilling moment you'll have during your round. My advice? Take one less club and aim for the center of the green!  

Shadow Mountain – Hole 17, Par-5, 606 yards –

Even if you “tame the monster” - the 606-yard 17th - at Shadow Mountain, you'll still have your hands full with the remaining holes on this brawny Graham Cooke-designed golf course. Elevated tees, gorgeous bunkers, pretty ponds, and spectacular mountain views are par for the course on the layout. However, the 17th, which plunges down the hillside to the St. Mary Valley, is definitely a “wow” moment you'll want to savour. This is your chance to hit a 300-yard bomb! 

The author hitting a drive on the 17th tee at Shadow Mountain
Credit: Andrew Penner 

Cranbrook Golf Club – Hole 4, Par-4, 487 yards –

Dubbed “The Hidden Gem of the Kootenays,” the Cranbrook Golf Club is a classic parkland course steeped in history. The layout is 70 years old and it's certainly aged like fine wine! One of the best holes on the course is the long, par-4 4th, which careens down the hill and serves up a sweet mountain view from the tee. While a strong tee shot may only leave a short iron in (the hole plays considerably downhill), it's definitely the number one handicap hole on the course for a reason! Tree trouble abounds and the green, like all of them on the course, is fast and undulating. Big numbers are not uncommon here.

Regardless of what type of numbers you pencil down on your card, a golf junket to Cranbrook is never a bad thing. I've played golf all over the world and – when it comes to value, course conditions, and pure mountain golf drama – it's tough to find a better golf destination anywhere.  



Andrew Penner is a golf writer/photographer based in Calgary. His work has appeared in Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, SCOREGolf, Golf Canada, and many others.