When I think about the town of Canmore, the first things that usually come to mind are the hardcore outdoor activities such as backcountry skiing, mountain biking and rock climbing. However, our recent visit to Canmore Golf and Curling Club set me straight — Canmore is also a very proud golf town.
The Canmore G&CC was born in 1926 when local residents, comprised primarily of coal miners and businessmen, funded the construction of the first 9 holes with sand greens, coffee cans for holes, and a membership fee of $5. Simply a passionate group of people who wanted to make Canmore a better place to live. I’m sure their very active membership base would vouch for the fact that they succeeded in their mission. The course was expanded to it’s current location in the 1960’s to feature an 18-hole layout, and the charm, value, and pride of this club is still going strong.
As soon as you pull into the parking lot, the rustic charm and Rocky Mountain setting create a distinct sense of place. It just feels like you’re about to embark on a unique experience. We were paired with a couple of lovely members who were thrilled to show a couple first-timers around their home course. When I pulled out my camera and told them I was going to write about the course, their enthusiasm grew. They knew we were going to have a great time.
The golf course is in the mountains, but isn’t a “mountain course”. It’s an old-school layout with pretty flat terrain winding through the forest and alongside the scenic Bow River. It’s nicely routed with holes kept close together, which makes it perfect for walking.
It starts out with a very open feel and will have you swinging freely out of the gates.
When I looked at the scorecard and saw a 6500 yard, par 71 layout from the tips, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to go low. However, the course will keep you honest and requires you to pony up a lot of solid shots. The 182 yard par-3 2nd hole is a good example of where you just have to step up and flush it.
There are a lot of holes at Canmore where angles are important. Whether it’s around gentle doglegs or coming into greens, you’ll want to pay close attention to what side of the fairway you’re trying to hit, or how much of a dogleg you want to cut off, in order to gain the best angle.
The par-5 4th hole parallels the Canadian Pacific railway, where we were treated to a train passing by as Beth ripped her drive. As odd as it may seem, the train seemed perfectly suited for a golf course in the Rockies. They laid on the horn while passing by, probably to compliment Beth on her beautiful drive.
The closing stretch on the back-9 tightens up a bit through the forest, and then the course opens up again on the par-5 10th hole. I love that both the front and back-nine start with gettable par-5’s…how fun is that?
The course doesn’t ask you to rip driver all day, it asks you to pay attention and play smart shots. Multiple times I went with long iron off the tee to play for position. There is a fun mix of holes which will have you reaching for many different clubs.
One of the most challenging holes on the course was the par-4 16th, a 440 yard dogleg-right par-4 with water down the right. If you want to leave yourself with a shorter approach you’ll have to challenge the water, otherwise there is lots of room to bail left and leave yourself with a longer approach to a narrow green. A stern but fun and strategic hole.
Throughout the round we kept reaching for the camera to capture the spectacular vistas. It was a fantastic day in the mountains and the course was in impressive condition. With green fees of only $85 as an out-of-town guest (or $75 as a local non-member), they’ve established a great formula out at Canmore that has stood the test of time.
After the round we headed straight to the patio to take in more of the scenery and enjoy a cold beverage and delicious lunch including chicken wings (obviously) and fish tacos. We had a chance to chat with General Manager, Darren Cooke, out on the patio who beamed with pride as we told him how we enjoyed our experience. Darren has worked there for 30 years and continues to make Canmore G&CC not only a great place for members and guests, but for the staff as well.
Canmore Golf and Curling Club is a pretty cool and down-to-earth compliment to golf in the Rockies, which can often come at a price tag many can’t stomach on a regular basis. Whether you’re looking for a unique golf experience at a reasonable price, or just passing through and looking for lunch at one of the best patios in town, Canmore offers up something for everyone. It’s safe to say that we will be back.