Here in southern Alberta, June of 2013 was a stark reminder of how powerful nature can be. The scenic and highly sought after land along our rivers quickly became a path of devastation after a perfect storm of Spring runoff from the mountains and extreme rainfall which caused massive flooding.
Highwood Golf Club, situated along the Highwood River 30 minutes south of Calgary in High River, Alberta, was no exception. Their 27-hole facility was devastated by the flooding.
Now, a little over three years removed from the 2013 flood, Highwood Golf Club has put the finishing touches on their comeback with the opening of the Spitzee Six — a unique, standalone, six-hole loop which officially opened for play on July 1.
The Spitzee Six course provides a nice compliment to their main 18-hole course, and provides more of what golf needs to thrive — accessible and affordable golf that doesn’t have to take up the whole day.
At $17.50 per round (or $1 per hole for juniors), the par-21 Spitzee Six layout encourages kids, families, beginners, or those with less time to spare to get out and enjoy our great game in a relaxed atmosphere.
For those in the family who are more experienced golfers, or enjoy a challenge, the back tee boxes will still test your game, while the other tee boxes shorten the holes significantly for those who aren’t so keen on a sterner challenge.
The course was in pretty good shape for just opening, and will only improve over the years as the grass matures. The greens were slower than I am accustomed to, but I am sure as the greens mature they will be able to speed them up a touch.
The Spitzee Six loop includes three par-4’s and three par-3’s and is conveniently routed, making it an easy walk if you’re up for some extra exercise.
Our group discovered that the Spitzee Six also serves as a great warm-up loop prior to playing their main 18-hole course, and was a great way to get in some extra holes on a Sunday escape from the city. It took our foursome a little over an hour to play the loop, and gave us just enough time to enjoy a sandwich and a drink on the patio before our main course tee time.
Although you may not see the Spitzee Six in line for any golf architecture awards, it’s a fun, smart edition to a solid small town facility, and is just the sort of thing golf needs to continue to grow and thrive on a broad scale. It reminded me of growing up in rural Saskatchewan where fun, cheap, and accessible golf provided me the opportunity to fall in love with the game and become hooked for life. The kids in High River are luckier than they realize!
The Main Course
The main course at Highwood Golf Club consists of two distinctly different nines called the Heritage (the front 9) and Mountainview (the back 9). The Heritage nine is now referred to as the ‘New Heritage’, as the opening four holes were completely rebuilt post-flood.
Their dynamic pricing offers an opportunity for the golfer with a flexible schedule to capitalize on some great golf value, particularly during mid-summer when you can tee off well past 4pm and easily get 18 holes in.
|Open to 1:59pm||$75.00 Weekend||$65.00 Weekday|
|2:00pm to 3:59pm||$56.25 Weekend||$48.75 Weekday|
|4:00pm to last tee time||$45.00 Weekend||$39.00 Weekday|
The Heritage nine winds through the trees and adjacent to the Highwood River, which comes into play on the beautiful par-3 6th hole:
The layout is fairly flat and the holes are routed close together which makes it very walkable — a quality I love in a golf course. You’ll be challenged with tree-lined fairways and a few narrow tee shots to keep you honest. The New Heritage was in good shape, especially considering what it went through three years ago during the 2013 flood.
As you progress to the back-9, the course changes feel as you wind through the neighborhood and water comes into play on seven (!) holes.
A look at the par-4 11th hole (left), and par-5 13th hole (right):
Although you’re playing among the houses, they don’t realistically come into play unless you have a tendency to hit it sideways off the tee. The biggest defense of the back 9 is the water, which is in play enough to keep your attention, but not so much that it felt gimmicky or unfair.
The approach to the par-4 15th hole:
The main course offered up an interesting mix of holes, including reachable par-5’s and risk-reward par 4’s, which I always love. The green complexes were often trickier and tougher to read than they appeared, and rolled quicker than the Spitzee Six, but still not knee-knocking fast.
All in all, our group had a fun day on the links, and enjoyed the change of scenery from city life. The staff treated us great and the laid back, small town feel of the course brought me back to my golfing roots as a kid.
The New Highwood Golf Club provides good value options for golfers of all makes and models, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, a trip from the city may just be worth the effort.