Predator Ridge Golf Resort is situated in Vernon, British Columbia, between Vancouver and Calgary in the Okanagan Valley which lies between the Cascade and Rocky Mountains.
Everything about Predator Ridge Golf Resort – from the valet parking, magnificent clubhouse and fitness centre (with gymnasium, pool, hot tub and steam baths) to the spa – reminds you that you're at a top-class venue. Accommodation takes the form of seventy-five studio, 1 and 2-bedroom suites in the lodge and more than fifty 1, 2 and 3-bedroom cottages around the property. Sergio Garcia liked these dwellings so much that he purchased two.
Predator Ridge golf course was designed by Les Furber and opened as an 18-hole facility in 1991. It was extended nine years later to form a 27-hole complex comprising three 9-hole circuits named Osprey, Red Tail and Peregrine. Following an extensive makeover by Doug Carrick a decade later, a new Ridge course was fashioned by adding nine holes to the Peregrine loop, leaving the original Osprey and Peregrine nines as the Predator course.
Wesbilt, the Predator Ridge Resort owners, are giving the Ridge a higher profile than its more established stablemate so it will be interesting to see whether the Predator layout can maintain its rankings dominance in the years to come.
Perhaps the pick of the holes is the par five 8th on the Predator course, it measures 510 yards from the back tee and it’s known by the club as their “inland Pebble Beach 18th hole.” It is a gentle dogleg left with water running from tee to green down the left hand side of the fairway. An offline drive may end up wet on the left or find sand in one of the massive fairway bunkers on the right. Once the fairway has been found, a decision must then be made to play a heroic shot and go for the green in two or play the percentage shot and lay-up to a comfortable yardage for a third shot to the elevated putting surface.
Predator Ridge used to have “stringent rules of play”, which were something of a mission statement and well worth repeating: “1. Bring your camera. 2. Remember golf is your recreation and not your occupation. So enjoy yourself. 3. Make sure others enjoy themselves.” What a fantastic corporate attitude to have and if that sort of statement doesn’t make a golfer want to play here, what will?
Carrick Design remodelled the 1st hole on the Ridge course and the 3rd, 4th and 9th holes of the Predator course at the end of 2017 to accommodate the introduction of new homes that will overlook the golf courses, with the redesign work also intended to improve the playability and character of these four holes.
The most striking thing about Predator Ridge is how little informed I was of the quality golf that exists just north of the border. The inland area of BC has a number of quality layouts and given the exchange rate makes things a bargain for visiting Americans. Given the nature of the pandemic and the existing border closing at this moment I certainly recommend golfers to head there when the situation warrants.
The overall scenery captures one's immediate attention. There is a rugged nature but not to the point where playability is compromised or where players are hounded by situations resulting in maddening lost balls. Just keep in mind, at no time does the layout countenance sloppy play.
Unlike the Ridge Course -- Predator doesn't have the abrupt and ongoing land movements but the shotmaking requirements are good. The opening trio of par-4's is quite engaging. The par-4 3rd is a true test and you have to be air tight with one's approach or you will pay a steep price for the misfire.
The par-3 4th that follows is just a connector to where one crosses a road to play the next four holes. They are worthy challenges especially the uphill par-4 5th and 7th holes respectively. The downhill par-5 8th is a risk/reward hole but the manner by which the green is really tucked into the corner makes 2nd shots only probable if someone truly blasts a tee shot down the fairway. The par-4 9th ends the side in a strictly formulaic manner.
I will certainly echo what Dave mentioned -- the turning left par-5 10th is a brute and one had best pay strict attention to staying on the short grass. Many times, par-5's are viewed by players as easy fodder -- this one is quick to pick your pocket should you snooze even just a tad.
Two short par-4's follow and the change of pace is welcomed. The stretch of holes commencing with the par-5 14th is good -- a reward can be had but it will not be given away lightly as water on this dog-leg right is quick to pounce should one get careless.
Dave rightly mentioned the rigors of the par-4 16th and the closing two holes are no less stringent in their requirements with a long par-3 at the penultimate hole and a fine two-shot hole to close out the round with a green that i beautifully situated -- more so when the pin is placed in the far-right corner just over the water.
Overall, the manner by which the facility expanded the golf from 27 holes to 36 is done very well. Sometimes when facilities go this route there is some sort of major compromise with the golf menu the one shortchanged. There's enough challenge but there's also options for the higher handicap players.
Dave opined the Ridge to be a top 100 Canada layout and while I have played a good assortment of courses with my neighbor to the north, however, I can't say with certainty given the number of classic architecture period of courses I still wish to visit / play.
As I said at the outset -- once the pandemic concludes and some sort of "normal" is underway a visit to the 36-hole complex is well worth exploring. There is so much to do in the greater Vernon area for families and the golf side -- both at Predator Ridge and elsewhere in the greater region is well worth checking out.
M. James Ward
The Predator Course looks sublime in comparison to its’ younger sibling but do not be fooled by first impressions. This layout offers a unique blend of parkland, mountain, and links-style designs in one truly, unique experience. I found it difficult to describe but Claus Larsen, Director of Accommodations, best summed it up by calling it a “links-style hybrid”.
The front nine is more dramatic and very picturesque but the back nine proved to be more difficult. Holes 2 through 5 make a lasting first impression. Your tee shot on #2 is from a plateau and your approach is over valley to a raised green. Don’t be right or short as your ball will funnel away.
Claus told me that the par 4, 3rd has been changed to widen the fairway and remove the large gully in front for ease of play. The 4th hole is a brand-new short par 3 since the original green had a severe slope making it just too tough. #5 is a very picturesque uphill par 4 to a well protected raised green that is narrow but deep and slopes severely from back to front.
#8 is a par 5 straight downhill until the 150-marker then uphill to the green. A pond on the left will come in play on your second shot but you still need to favour the left side to be able to see the green on this dogleg right.
The back side starts with uphill dogleg left par 5 to a raised green that is protected by three large bunkers in front. In my opinion this is the toughest hole on the course. The green is narrow and deep, and the greenside bunkers add salt to an open wound.
Hole #14 is a dogleg right that is totally over water on your tee shot. As with any buffet, eat as much as you can handle but do not overindulge because a pond comes into play on your second shot on this par 5. My guidance would be to play three smart shots to avoid a big score. The ideal move is to layup your second shot and not test the pond on the right and the large deep faced bunker short left.
The 16th hole requires you to drive your tee shot to the end of the plateau leaving you with a downhill approach of some 80 feet to a raised green. The 18th is a tough finishing hole as the green sits on a peninsula with a large pond on the right.
The greens are in perfect condition and the overall design certainly make ‘The Predator Course’ worthy of being in the Top 100 Golf Courses of Canada.