Jasper Park Lodge is set most splendidly in the rugged Canadian Rocky Mountains of Alberta overlooking the crystal waters of Lake Beauvert. Canada’s most famous and most revered architect, Stanley Thompson, literally moved the earth to create Jasper Park in 1925.
Stunning snow-capped mountain peaks are now aligned with Jasper’s fairways which are set in the valley which in turn provides thrilling lakeside views. Few golf courses in the world can match the awe inspiring Jasper Park Lodge experience.
Thompson’s course was re-routed twenty years after it opened in 1925 and it now follows a circular direction in an old fashioned out-and-back manner with the 9th at the farthest point. Nevertheless, Jasper Park remains a classic architectural example and almost exactly as Thompson originally designed it.
Jasper Park Lodge is a course that will appeal to golfers of all levels. It is both interesting and challenging without being brutal. This is not a championship layout – Jasper Park is simply a lovely course which is set in a gorgeous and romantic location and it seems fitting that the club has its own annual competition called the Totem Pole.
The course at Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club is in a valley surrounded by four distinct tall mountain ranges in the distance. I could not get good photos because the unusually hot day produced a thick haze and then the mountains seemed too far away. Surrounding the course are miles and miles of pine forests. Large sections of these had a red tint color, the result of a pine beetle disease that killed the trees. British Columbia to the west has been dealing with this disease for the past two decades and it is now spreading to Alberta.
The course is 6,663 yards with a par of 71. It is in a valley at 3,478 feet of elevation. However, the terrain is fairly hilly in a lot of places. For instance, the uphill first hole produces an approach shot where only the top of the flag stick is visible. Throughout the round there are many uphill, downhill, and sidehill shots.
Although many of the fairways are tree-lined, the trees are fairly distant from the wide fairways. Also, the pine beetle disease seems to have caused some thinning of the tree lines. The property is part of a 700- acre tree-filled site that produces an expansive, peaceful, quiet feeling throughout the course.
There are seven dogleg holes. The most pronounced is #18 (463-yard par 4) with a sharp downhill right to left swing. There is a dramatic downhill approach shot to a large well-bunkered green. Water comes in play on only three holes. Big and beautiful glacial Lake Beauvert directly affects play on holes 14 and 16.
There are 101 bunkers with none on two holes and a staggering 19 on another (#6). The bunkers are sharply-edged, which emphasizes their beauty. Thompson designed and built very distinctive bunkers. At Jasper, they range in size from huge all the way to tiny. The picture below (courtesy of Ian Andrews) gives a feel of the size and number of bunkers on the 492-yard par-5 #10. I was fascinated by the name “octopus” for the huge bunker half way up the fairway. The opposite in size are the four tiny and mean pot bunkers behind the 5th green.
The greens were in really good condition considering the time of year. Their size is medium to large with the most depth at 38 yards and the least at 22 yards. The average is 32 yards. The greens feature a lot of slope and subtle ridges. There are a few with false fronts.
All five par 3s are outstanding. They vary in length from 240 yards (#4), 231 yards (#9), 181 yards (#12), 178 yards (#7), to 138 yards (#15). Most of the greens are raised. On #7 the medium sized putting surface cannot be seen, even from the elevated tee. Hitting and staying on these greens is a challenge. If not successful, there are long chip shots, sometimes off tight lies. In total, golf at Jasper is a huge treat and certainly merits a visit to this part of the world.
A beautifully stunning scenic course with an average layout. Worth playing it you were in the area. It was worth playing and I enjoyed my round but was only awed by its location.
In 1925 Stanley Thompson opened his mountain masterpiece to add to the allure of the property as a holiday destination. The Fairmont Jasper Park offers all sorts of healthy activities such as horse riding, bikes, walking, golf, tennis etc- all in a truly beautiful location. The course and hotel are set in a large valley beside Lake Beauvert which is clear as a bell, and pretty as a picture!
Thompson has used the might peaks surrounding the property as a focus for the holes- some of which soar to 11000 feet!
His routing is impressive, making the most of the property to provide nice elevation changes, although still very playable. The knockers on Jasper Park will say that it is not a true championship course, that it perhaps isn’t a strong enough test of golf, but I don’t agree.
Good design allows different standards of golfers to play the course according to their own strengths and weaknesses, and although Jasper Park has a number of greens open the front to allow weaker golfers to bounce in their approaches, their are still many challenges for the stronger golfer as well.
Thompson has provided variety throughout the course, so it is a delight first time around, and remains that way on repeat plays. The big crescendo are the holes he built on a tiny peninsula on the lake.
Holes 14, 15, & 16 use the land nicely to produce two shortish par 4’s and a par 3 that are delightfully tricky.
One added bonus to playing Jasper is the wildlife. Play a late afternoon round and you are likely to meet the natives!
Whenever you play you will remember the tranquil, almost surreal setting- it is a very quiet, peaceful place to play golf, and you can get caught up just taking it all in.
Notable holes include:
- hole 2, named Old Man, is a pretty par 5 where players will need to plot their way past the bunkers
- hole 3, called Signal Dip- a strong par over a rise and down before approaching a raised green set into a ridge
- hole 9- Cleopatra- a long downhill par 3 with a big bunker directly in front of the green
- hole 13- Grand Allee- a strong par 5 which dips down to a sheltered green
- hole 14- Lac Beauvert- a short par 4 requiring an accurate tee shot over the lake from a peninsula tee through a gap in the trees to hit the fairway, and then an accurate short iron approach
- hole 15- The Bad Baby- a ticklish short par 3
- hole 16- a mid length par 4 with water protruding out infant of the green
Jasper Park is the sort of course you could play with family, and everyone would enjoy the course. It is the sort of course you want to play again.
It is no accident that two of the greatest golf architects- Alister McKenzie, and George Thomas rated Jasper Park among their favourites..