Located a mere five miles south of Calgary in Pine Creek valley, Heritage Pointe offers three fantastic loops of nine holes – “The Pointe”, “The Desert” and “The Heritage.”
When Heritage Pointe opened in 1992, it became one of less than a handful of Canadian courses – the others being Taboo and Wooden Sticks – to bear the architectural stamp of the American architect Ron Garl who has nearly a hundred Florida courses to his name.
The Pointe is a target nine where accuracy from the tee is essential. It begins with a severe drop into Pine Creek valley then the routing follows the creek as it winds its way along the landscape. Water is crossed no less than five times at “Natural”, the 518-yard par five 5th hole before arriving at a thirty-foot elevated green. The loop is completed with a tough, 191-yard, par three that has spruce trees framing the putting surface.
The Desert nine was level farmland that was sculpted into a “faux links”. With its mounding, deep bunkering, fescue-lined fairways and extra length, distance is a key element here. The 464-yard, long par four 6th hole, named “Scotland”, is often played into the wind so even a five on the card is good! It’s followed by another very strong hole, the 517-yard, par five 8th, called “Windswept”, which has a mammoth 150-yard bunker running down the left to a difficult, three-tiered green – another five on the card here will be well earned!
The key to good scoring on the Heritage nine is the second shot because many of the greens are elevated or contoured such that it’s difficult to get close to pin placements. The best two holes are the 479-yard, long par four, 4th hole, called “Long & Mean” which requires a forced carry over water for the second shot and the 353-yard, short par four, 8th, named “Gorge” where the tee shot has to carry a 200-foot canyon to find the fairway.
Heritage Pointe is a public access golf facility which does its best to provide affordable golf for everyone and specializes in special offer packages such as twilight, “dewsweeper” and foursome.
Heritage Pointe consists of three 9-hole layouts that epitomize the tale of “Two Solitudes”, the iconic novel by Canadian author Hugh MacLennan. It’s a struggle between two identities both competing for the one that speaks to you most. The Desert nine is a Scottish links-style layout sculpted out of a relatively flat plateau with little water and nary a tree in sight. The Heritage and Pointe courses drop down into the Pine Creek Valley where a meandering river and two ponds help define 16 out of the 18 holes – a marked contrast to the Desert.
Eventually they grow together in harmony and I enjoyed the best of two worlds.
The opening hole on the Heritage Course, affectionately know as the ‘Pine Shute’ offers a tee shot from the highest part of the course down into the valley. It then takes a severe left hand turn across a wetland on this par-5. While visually stunning it is not my favourite hole as you may run out of fairway as it’s hard to judge the distance you need.
The most memorable hole is the 8th on Heritage, a short par-4 that plays longer than the scorecard indicates. This dogleg right leaves you with an uphill approach over a challenging gorge. With a green sloping severely from back to font, it lives up to its moniker ‘Wishful Thinking’.
The finishing hole on Heritage has a peninsula green that challenges you to take on this par-5 in two. A risk/reward shot is a great way to finish your round.
Unfortunately, we did not get to play the Pointe Course, but I would suggest the 1sthole, nicknamed the ‘Valleyview’ is probably their signature hole. It’s a long par-5 from an elevated tee that swoops down into the valley with magnificent views.
Heritage Pointe currently ranks in the Top 50 Public Courses in Canada. This 27-hole championship layout has a private-club feel and includes a 3-hole practice facility (a par-3, par-4 and a par-5) that could be signature holes on any other course.
Read more about Dave Finn’s golf travel adventures visit www.golftravelandleisure.com