Review: Wildstone Golf Course

Wildstone Golf Course was our last of three stops while checking out the Cranbrook, BC golf course scene. The course itself is young (opening in 2011) which shows in the trailer-like pro shop and gravel parking lot, but the course itself feels mature beyond it’s years.

The par 72 layout designed by Gary Player can play as long as 7127 yards which is certainly a fun challenge for the low handicap but still extremely playable for golfers of most skill levels as you move up tee boxes.

Knowing it was a new course I wasn’t put off by the lack of clubhouse facilities, and the beautiful driving range and chipping/putting area quickly made me forget about that. We were there to golf, not to lounge around and have daiquiris.

Wildstone driving range

The one beef I had at check in was being charged extra for range balls. This is my personal opinion but I think that any green fee should have range balls included. A warm-up is where your round starts, and having to pay extra for the privilege kind of annoys me. It’s one of those minor details that seems to make a big difference.

We got to the first tee and the starter was extremely friendly and informative about the course. I liked the feel of the course right from the get go. The long brown-ish rough contrasting with the lush green fairways and beautiful bunkering made for a picturesque round.

Wildstone first hole

The course, in general, is fairly forgiving. There’s usually more room out there than appears from some tee boxes, however, if you stray too far off track you will find yourself trying to hack out of the trees. The trees are kept pretty tidy and if you do find yourself in them, it’s pretty easy to find your ball with a fair chance to play a recovery shot.

The 2nd hole from the tee box:

Wildstone 2nd hole

The course has a very consistent feel throughout the round and, as with all the golf in Cranbrook, has some beautiful views of the mountains if you take the time to look around.

The 2nd hole looking back:

Wildstone 2nd hole

The course has plenty of scoring opportunities and is the kind of course you can pile up birdies if you’re playing well. The short par-4 4th hole that plays 320 yards from the tips:

Wildstone 4th hole

I was able to take advantage of some of the scoring holes out there and make 4 birdies, however I also made a couple of doubles by getting into the wrong spots on some of the longer and tougher holes.

The course really shows it’s teeth down the home stretch with the 483 yard par-4 14 hole, the 240 yard par-3 15th hole, and the par-4 finishing hole that plays 530 yards from the back tees. No matter how you’re playing you’ll be challenged to finish off your round strong, and if you do, it’ll be very rewarding.

The only hole I didn’t like the design of was the par-5 7th hole, which plays 600 yards from the tips. It bends gently to the left off the tee and some houses are jutting out on the left with a hazard down the right. There’s a sign on the tee telling you to hit an iron or a fairway wood off of the tee. In my opinion, if you’re going to design a 600 yard par 5 it shouldn’t be such that you’re forced into hitting less than driver. You should at least have the option of trying to cut more off.

I was happy enough to hit 4 iron – 4 iron – 9 iron to the green and walk off with my par, but I didn’t like that it felt like my only option on a hole of such length.

We all enjoyed our round out at Wildstone. It was fun and playable but provided enough challenges to keep you on your toes. It was in immaculate shape, especially for Spring in the Rockies. The half way hut was well stocked with food and perfectly located. The course and practice facilities are well thought out and convenient to use, and the price seemed fair. At the end of the day it added up to an enjoyable day of golf.

With a few minor tweaks and upgraded clubhouse/pro shop facilities, Wildstone Golf Course could turn itself into a real gem of the Canadian Rockies.

Happy golfing!

Josh

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