BANFF, ALBERTA, CANADA – The Stanley Thompson-designed Banff Springs Golf Course is an incredible course for golf aficionados on a golf vacation to Banff, Alberta. Nearby Mt. Rundle towers at 10,000 feet, while across the valley, hot springs let of a mist that rests atop pine trees in Bow Valley. The busy town of Banff rests beneath, while at the base of Mt. Rundle stands gothic steeples that reach toward the sky. Meanwhile, the Banff Springs Hotel calls travelers. Under the steeples rest the aforementioned Banff Springs Golf Course.
The Banff Springs Golf Course was the first golf course in history to cost more than one million dollars to build.
“In 1928, when Stanley Thompson began his work here, horses, mules, railcars, and hundreds of men brought in soil, removed rocks, and shaped the earth to build Banff the perfect course,” according to Jose Silverman, Alberta golf expert.
Like many traditional courses, some work has been completed on the Banff Springs Golf Course to make sure it challenges longer hitters and still provides the resort golfer a fine experience.
“Don’t worry, the alterations have been improvements, and Stanley Thompson would surely approve,” said Silverman.
Greens have been masterfully positioned into spots only an incredible mind could have conceived, and approaches massive granite walls. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the course is the nature of Thompson’s bunkering with the faces flashed and steep.
Banff’s Devil’s Cauldron – One of the Best Holes in the World
The “Devil’s Cauldron,” as the fourth hole is called, is a delectable par-3, voted one of the best 18 holes in the world by Golf Magazine in 2000. With a tee high on a granite shelf and a crystal clear mountain lake sitting in the foreground, the setting at the fourth is unreal. The green sits in a natural bowl, or cauldron, just over the lake – 170 yards away. Surrounding the green sits five bunkers hoping to take your golf ball. The water in the lake is clean and pure – on any given day a thousand balls glisten under waters fed by nearby glaciers.
“Don’t be distracted by the beauty, otherwise your ball will find a new home in Alberta, Canada at the bottom of the water as well,” according to Silverman.
Banff Springs Golf Course opens relatively easy with a gentle right to left par-4 of medium length. The second is a one-shot up the hill with a sloping green and a magnificent mountain backdrop. The third, a sweeping short par-5, is also a work of art. The green at No.3 is flat and appears unhittable from the landing area. Not to worry, it’s deep and relatively easy to putt on when you find it. In all likelihood however, your thoughts will be revolving around what lies ahead, at the “Devil’s Cauldron”.
Banff Springs – Alberta’s Gem of a Golf Course
There is also a new clubhouse further down the road that caters well to larger groups. The addition of the so-called Tunnel Nine also means more golfers can enjoy the game in Banff, Alberta. However, because of relocation, the routing has been changed. As mentioned, the starting holes are different and the hole atop the hotel is now No. 15 on the inward nine.
“What hasn’t changed is the challenge the course provides. Now boasting a yardage of 7,074 yards from the back tees and a lofty 74.4 rating with a par of 71, Banff is anything but soft or easy,” said Silverman.
While visiting a national park in Alberta, Canada, wildlife is sure to appear – even on the golf course. One of the things that Banff has become known for is the presence of elk on the fairways. It is not uncommon for golfers to have to zig-zag between as many as fifty elk sitting on the pristine fairways.
“Golfers need to be cautious when nearing these large animals otherwise one could lose its temper. It’s not common, but also not unheard of in Banff,” Silverman said.
The back nine at Banff opens with an excellent par-3 that requires a bold strike with a long iron or fairway wood. The Bow River intertwines into the hole from the right and anything hit short or right will find its rocky banks or current. Making three is a welcome achievement to start your journey to the hotel and back.
Unlike the front nine, the backside features a lot of nice par-4s that require precise long and medium iron approach shots. With grassy mounds and sand traps flashed with silica, punishment for mishit shots can be rough. Add Bow River lurking into landing zones and random gusts of mountain winds, and Banff Springs is a difficult test on your golf vacation.
Tee boxes now are sitting higher and further back than where they used to be, making the 480 yard par-4 15th a beast. However, when taking in the breathtaking scenery from high atop your perch, the mountain peaks glistening in the sun and the Bow River reflecting the Rocky Mountain beauty, making it in four shots just doesn’t seem to matter to purists.
The back nine requires exceptional shots to approach a par 35. Both par-3s are over 220 yards, five par-4s are longer than 420 yards, as well as an overall length well over 3,600 yards, the back nine from the back tees can be brutal on the average golfer on vacation.
GREAT GOLF IS FOUND BANFF, ALBERTA
Golf can be great anywhere. But a golf vacation in Banff, Alberta is an experience of a lifetime. But this beauty and experience has a price with tee times tough to come by and prices to play on the high side. Do not forget to soak in the nearby natural hot springs to relax after a great round of golf – it is tradition after all.
Golf Canada’s West is the official golf course, tee time and golf packaging company of Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies. Call them at 877-323-3633. For additional information be sure to check out GolfTheRockies.net. For more BC and Alberta vacation and tourism information, please visit Banff National Park.com and Banff Travel.com.