I am pleased to share with you the scoop on one of Alberta’s most beautiful private golf courses — The Raven Course at Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club. This review is brought to you by my brother-in-law, Matt Beauchamp, who spent this season as a member of the club and was also a professional caddy on this course for a week! Please enjoy Matt’s review:
They call it Priddis Greens, not Priddis Fairways – and with good reason.
Last winter my wife and I were very seriously considering having me join a golf club for the summer. As with Josh, I have the opportunity to join the Calgary Golf and Country Club, however, with an uncertain job market, and an upcoming family, the financial concerns were enough that we instead took the opportunity for me to join Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club. Host of this years Canadian CP Women’s Open, Priddis allows members to assign a ‘designee member’ for one year. This seemed like the perfect way to join a course for a year, and enjoy the full benefits, without having to pay the full price.
Priddis Green’s is nestled in the rolling foothills just west of Calgary, Alberta. On a clear day, the mountains feel like they’re right beside you, and provide stunning views from a number of holes. As you drive out to Priddis – only a 15-minute drive from my house – you are filled with a sense of relaxation. Almost like a mini-vacation. This remains a highlight for me.
Priddis has two 18-hole courses – The Hawk and The Raven. This review is for The Raven course.
The Raven course may be best recognized as the course that hosted the CP Women’s Open won by Ariya Jutanugarn at a stunning 23 under par. I play with a 7.4 handicap and I can tell you 23 under par – without ever hitting a driver – is amazing. (To read more about my experience as a caddy for the Women’s Open click here).
The Raven course stars off with a sharp dogleg left par 5. Longer hitters will have no problem cutting the corner over the first trap that sits about 240 yards out. Shorter hitters can stay right of it, but will make the hole a 3 shot hole.
As you wind your way through the first 6 holes, you’ll notice a theme of drivable holes, that offer lots of room off the tee as long as you don’t hit it off the fairway. Forested areas line most of the holes, and while they will punish you for your missed drive, you will have a very good chance of finding your ball and making a shot.
The par 5 seventh offers a great scoring chance for all golfers as it plays only 486 from blues and only 500 from the tips.
As you make the turn you wind back towards the clubhouse where you can stop at the Raven halfway house for a variety of sandwiches, fruit, granola bars as well as your staple of hot dogs and craft beer.
The 10th hole of the raven offers some of my favourite views on both courses. A blind, downhill tee shot sees you aiming just right of the boutique hotel Azuridge Estates that stares at you across the valley. An easy 200-225 shot will leave you with a wedge or short iron downhill approach to a green that runs away from you. Land it short, and you can easily run it off the back of the green.
Remember how I said they call it Priddis Greens and not Priddis Fairways for a reason? Well by this point in the round hopefully you have figured out the speed of the greens – which were running near 12 on the stimpmeter for the Women’s open – as the undulations and subtlety’s of the breaks will have you second guessing a lot of putts for the remainder of the back nine.
The Par 3 15th hole reminds me a little bit of Augusta’s 12th hole. Short – playing only 122 from blues and 139 from the tips – it has you hitting over water to a shallow green with a bunker in front and a steep hill behind. There is not a lot of room for error here as a certain family member, who shall remain nameless, can attest shooting a 15 on this hole during a previous year’s tournament.
Finally the round winds up with an uphill par 5 that gives long hitters one last chance for glory. I’ve personally only hit this green in two twice, and felt only slightly emasculated during the CP Women’s Open as Holly Clyburn hit it in two with a driver and a 4-iron… into the wind.
The Raven course has a subtlety to it that has frustrated me after a year of playing it. It seems straight forward. It seems like what you see is what you get. It seems like you should be able to score well on it. But consistently this is the harder of the two courses for me. In fact I averaged a full two shots more on the Raven than the Hawk.
With stunning views, and an enjoyable walk for all level of golfers the Raven is a course that will leave you feeling optimistic, and in awe as you walk it, then leave you scratching your head, unsure of how you left those extra strokes out on the course. To me this is the mark of a great course, one that makes you want to get right back out there and attack it again as soon as you’re done.
Matt is a writer and owner of MRB Ink.