Shadow Mountain Golf Course was the second stop on our boys golf excursion to the Cranbrook, British Columbia area. To be honest, we didn’t know very much about the course heading in. We figured for $89 including a cart and range balls on a Saturday and a name like Shadow Mountain, it had to be worth a try.
We woke up that morning to pouring rain. Our heads felt a bit groggy. Things didn’t look good, but we pulled ourselves together and made our way to the course for our noon-ish tee time.
When we pulled into Shadow Mountain, it was still overcast but the rain had stopped as we arrived. The beautifully quaint surroundings and inviting clubhouse immediately put a jump in my step. After we checked in with the friendly staff and headed down to the practice area (pictured below), I knew it was going to be a great day.
As we pulled up to the first tee I was pleased with my first impression of the course. The tee boxes were perfectly manicured and everything looked to be in great shape, especially considering it was May in the Canadian Rockies.
The course can play as long as 7400 yards from the tips, but we played it at about 6400 yards to accommodate the wide range of handicaps in our group, but still making it a fun challenge.
I always love when a course starts with a par 5, and that’s what you get at Shadow Mountain. A dog leg left that requires a precise and possibly shaped tee shot (depending how far you hit it) to keep it in the fairway.
The approach shot on the par 5 1st hole:
Shadow Mountain has a great mix of long holes, short holes, and risk reward holes. The tee shot on the dogleg right par 4 2nd hole (shown below) is a great example of a shorter par 4 where you can play safely with a long iron to around the 150 yard marker, or take more club and challenge the dog leg for a chance to flip a wedge into the green.
The tee shot on the dogleg left par 4 6th hole is another cleverly designed hole that gives you the opportunity to play safe or challenge the corner for an opportunity to play a wedge into the green. Better players would likely take note of the sloped fairway as anything moving left to right off of the tee would likely roll down into the right rough.
The rolling hills, sloped fairways and risk reward nature of the golf course make both the conservative and aggressive player think twice about where they want to place their tee shot. The course definitely rewards solid thought out shots and fairly punishes the poor or overly aggressive shots.
The course doesn’t lack holes with brute strength either. A good example of that is the par 3 8th hole which can play as long as 250 yards.
If the nicely manicured fairways, rolling hills, intimidating bunkering, challenging greens and beautiful views of the mountains on the front 9 don’t quite satisfy you, then you’ll be pleased that Shadow Mountain takes it a step further on the back 9 with some unique and breathtaking holes.
The 15th hole, a par 4 that can play as long as 440 yards, has a dramatically elevated tee shot. I’ve played dramatically elevated tee shots in the past that have felt gimmicky and made me feel like I needed a lot of luck to find the golf course, but this one did not feel that way. They’ve done a good job of making a dramatic hole very fun and playable.
The par 5 17th hole (shown below) provides a bit of everything. Another elevated tee shot with a breathtaking view and some brute strength as it can play as long 600 yards. It doesn’t lack strategy however with a second shot that will most likely be a layup with water left and in front of the green to contend with.
A very difficult, but still fair and playable hole that will test your insides if you’re trying to bring in a good round to the clubhouse. The fairway is a bit more forgiving than it appears in the picture, but a stray shot left or right will no doubt result in some penalty strokes.
What started out as a rough and bleak morning for the four of us, was turned around by the beauty, challenge and fun of Shadow Mountain golf course.
So often “mountain” courses, as beautiful as they are, aren’t courses that you’d like to play on a regular basis. I didn’t feel that way at all at Shadow Mountain. It had the perfect combination of challenge, nice views and playability that would keep me coming back.
It had great facilities from the clubhouse to the practice area, very friendly staff, and it came at a very fair price.
If I had to complain about something, it would be that Shadow Mountain isn’t closer to where I live. (Update: Read Shadow Mountain Part 2)