Picture perfect golf in Canada The best holes of Alberta

By Brandon TuckerJuly 20, 2010, 12:39 am


Devil's Cauldron at the Fairmont Banff Springs has one of Canada's most memorable par-3s

With the PGA Tour RBC Canadian Open upon us, all eyes shift to the north as we uncover some of the region's best golf holes. If there was ever a golf vacation destination rife with signature holes, it's Alberta's Canadian Rockies.

Canadian golf architect Stanley Thompson, who built the region's first two internationally acclaimed golf courses, built some epic holes through two of Canada's finest national parks, Banff Springs and Jasper Park.

And the small collection of golf courses that has come along in the modern era have followed suit with their own dramatic holes that are sure to stick around in your brain for awhile.

The best holes of Alberta's Canadian Rockies can be intimidating, but exhilarating to boot, bringing their mountain backdrops to life. Here's a sample of some of the best at each of the six golf clubs, as well as a worthy runner-up.

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Devil's Cauldron at Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course
You knew the 'Devil's Cauldron,' the fourth hole at Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course would be on this list. It is one of the world's most famed par 3s from golden-era architect Stanley Thompson. What you might not know is that the original tee box wasn't elevated like it is today thanks to a modern redesign. You'll have to head down around the lake for an entirely different, yet still very intimidating tee shot over water to the bunker-laced green.

Honorable mention at Fairmont Banff Springs: No. 15 is the obvious choice here, the former opening hole that has a new tee high above the fairway. But we'll curry favor with the 14th (formerly the 18th), where the Bow River gurgles its way down the right side of the fairway and the 19th-century castle hotel looms above.

No. 9 at Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club
From an elevated tee box on the ninth hole at Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club, Pyramid Mountain is perched as a backdrop. This hole was named 'Cleopatra' for Thompson's intention to shape the hole in the female form – until the stiffs in management put the kibosh on that idea.

Honorable mention at Jasper Park: No. 13 is a 600-plus yard par 5 that features a blind, bowled green tucked behind a ridge, though the view from the fairway offers the only view of the town of Jasper. It's also a good spot to watch the fireworks on Canada Day.

No. 15 at Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club
From the back two sets of tees, Stewart Creek feels like a tournament golf course the pros belong on, especially the 15th. You tee off over the crest of a gentle rise, followed by a gentle downhill approach over the Stewart Creek, which runs down Pigeon Mountain, while Wind Mountain serves as a backdrop beyond miles of pines.

Honorable mention at Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club: No. 1 is as warm a welcome as you can get on a mid-70s afternoon in the Rockies. Nothing beats a wide open, elevated tee shot on a not-so-long par 4 for the opener. You'll also drive by an old mining shaft on the left side, just don't hit your ball into it.

No. 18 at Silvertip Golf Resort
It's nearly impossible to pick a signature hole at Silvertip Golf Resort, where it seems like Les Furber was out to build at least 10 of them, thanks to property set such severe mountain terrain. Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 15 are all standouts, but we're going to opt for the closing hole, a long par 4 that rewards the long ball that cuts the corner. Get all of your drive, and you're looking at little more than a wedge in.

Honorable mention at Silvertip: The par-5 second hole is another steep elevated tee on a golf course filled with them. No. 2 heads straight downhill off the drive but the funneled fairway doesn't leave much room for error.

No. 4 at Kananaskis Country Golf Course (Mt. Kidd)
The fourth hole on the Mt. Kidd Course at Kananaskis Country, a water-heavy little par-3, feels like it could be in Myrtle Beach, S.C. if it weren't for the bentgrass and towering mountain backdrop. (And of course, the grizzly bear and cub we witnessed strolling across the Kananaskis River onto the golf course, resulting in a bear removal delay). It makes for a memorable juxtaposition.

Honorable mention at Mt. Kidd: On the second hole, you'll tee off right next to the Kananaskis River, before gently dog-legging through trees and meeting back up with the water at the green on this par 5.

No. 16 at Canmore Golf & Curling Club
Canmore Golf & Curling Club isn't long, but the exception is on the par-4 16th, stretching 444 yards and doglegging right, tightly through trees and requiring a carry over water both short and right.

Honorable mention at Canmore Golf & Curling Club: The fourth hole is a par 5 that's less than 500 yards from the tips. But it is not so overpowering when you consider the tall, thick pine tree in the middle of the fairway on the second shot, which could turn into big numbers in a hurry.

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm