Situated in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, around an hour’s drive from either Calgary or Banff, is the small town of Canmore, next to one of Canada’s premier public golfing destinations, the Kananaskis Country Golf Course.
There are two 18-hole courses at Kananaskis, routed through 600 acres of prime land in the Kananaskis Valley with the Rockies forming a formidable backdrop of towering mountains 10,000 feet above sea level.
Funded by the Alberta government and designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior in the early 1980s, the Mount Kidd and Mount Lorette courses are named after the soaring limestone peaks that overlook, and frankly dominate, the property.
The main challenges at both courses is navigating around the Kananaskis River and glacial creeks as well as contending with nearly one hundred and fifty enormous crushed granite bunkers. Another feature that may hinder a good score is the way in which many of the holes are doglegged, with pine trees lining most of the fairways.
A couple of feature holes at Mount Kidd are par threes that both measure 197 yards from the back tees. The 4th is played to an island green with bunkers on three sides and the 12th has water and rocks to the right of the green with additional bunker protection front right and back left. An interesting aspect of the course routing is that the 9th at Mount Kidd and 18th at Mount Lorette share the same double green.
When you play at Kananaskis, your scorecard is stamped by the starter at the first tee then again as you leave the 18th green. A small gift can then be picked up from the pro shop if your round has been completed in under four and a half hours – some clubs might look at the flip side of this innovation and decide that you should be punished if a round took that long!
The Summit Restaurant, lounge and patios are at the disposal of the visiting golfer and are an excellent choice of venue for relaxing after the completion of a round or two at Kananaskis where spectacular views come free with the green fee.
Both Kananaskis courses were devastated by flooding in 2013 and were rebuilt by architect Gary Browning at a reputed cost of $23 million, with the province expecting to recoup three quarters of that sum from Ottawa’s disaster recovery program. Thirty-two of the thirty-six holes that were badly damaged by gravel, mud, silt and fallen trees had to be totally reconstructed from scratch. The Mount Lorette and Mount Kidd layouts re-opened in the summer of 2018.