Review: Banff Springs Golf Club

Banff Springs Golf Club (click for website) is set in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Banff, Alberta, Canada. Winding along the Bow River and nestled in between Sulphur and Rundle mountain, it’s difficult to find a nicer setting for a golf course. Designer Stanley Thompson did an elegant job of routing the holes. It’s surprisingly flat for a course set in the mountains, especially in comparison to nearby mountain courses Stewart Creek and Silver Tip. It’s a timeless design with clever and intimidating bunkering giving the illusion that tee shots are much less forgiving than they are in reality. It has hosted the Telus Skins game twice, in 2006 and 2011.

I’ve had the opportunity to tee it up twice here now and I can’t wait to go back for a third time. The first time I played it with Beth and her brother-in-law, Matt. It was early spring and not ideal conditions yet, but we got a smoking deal and had a fantastic time. Especially considering we played hooky from work on a Monday to do it. Mondays are much better on the golf course.

The most recent outing was with Beth and her parents, Gary and Shelley, during a VIP golf member-guest outing in July 2013. It was a shotgun start and we were delighted to be starting on the 15th hole, which was the original 1st hole as Thompson intended before the new clubhouse was built in a new location. The original first hole, in my opinion, makes for a more exciting starting hole. It’s a dramatically elevated tee shot down to a slight dogleg left fairway. A fantastic way to get a round of golf underway.

1st tee photo shoot

15th tee (our 1st tee) photo shoot

View from 15th tee (original 1st tee)

View from 15th tee (original 1st tee)

Gary and I agreed to play match play for some money as per usual. We decided to see every inch of the course and play from the tips which plays 6938 yards. The par 71 track boasts a rating/slope of 72.9/135 from the back tees, but can play significantly easier by moving up tee boxes. We both made a statement off the first tee by missing the fairway in the left trees and being forced to chip it out sideways. He got up and down from over 150 yards to save his par and go one up to my bogey. It didn’t get much better for me from there, he absolutely bludgeoned me in match play after five or six birdies and a final tally of 71. My sloppy 85 didn’t have a chance despite him spotting me a few shots. Regardless, it’s always nice to see someone play well, especially at a place as special as Banff Springs.

It’s one of those courses that you’ll enjoy regardless of whether your game is sharp or not. Playing well is always a bonus but I’m really starting to learn the value of appreciating a day on the course no matter how you’re playing. Anyway, I’ll let a few photos speak for themselves.

The 1st tee

The par 4 1st tee

Par 3 2nd tee

Par 3 2nd tee

The Devil's Cauldron (par 3 4th hole)

The Devil’s Cauldron (par 3 4th hole)

Par 3 10th tee

Par 3 10th tee

Par 4 14th hole (old 18th hole)

Par 4 14th hole (old 18th hole) with the Banff Springs hotel in the background

After the round we enjoyed a late lunch and a pitcher of beer in the clubhouse while I scraped together change to pay my golf debts. I managed to bury my sorrows in a ‘build your own’ burger that was the size of my head and fantastic. I hope to make it out to Banff Springs Golf Club for a golf outing again this summer and provide an update of what will surely be another great experience. It’s steeped in history, has breathtaking scenery, a fantastic layout, good food, and you’ll probably even see some wildlife. What more can you ask for?

Happy golfing

Josh

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