Located just to the south of Vernon, in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, the Predator Ridge resort now offers visitors 36 holes of championship-standard golf.
Established as an 18-hole facility in 1991, the layout was expanded by the end of the millennium to form a 27-hole complex.
Demand was such that another nine holes were added by respected architect Doug Carrick in 2010 and this new circuit, along with the old reworked Peregrine nine, which was completely rebuilt, now comprise the 18 holes of the Ridge course.
The former Osprey and Redtail nines have been combined to form the Predator course, a solid golfing layout that was originally designed by Les Furber.
The newer Ridge course is now marketed by Wesbild, the owners, as the principal layout at the resort so it will be interesting to see if this will be reflected in the relative position of the two Predator Ridge courses in future national rankings.
The routing of the Ridge course takes advantage of the site’s elevation changes to locate some lofty tee positions, at the same time minimising the number of tough, uphill holes that all golfers hate.
AJ Eathorne, Academy Manager/Instructor at Predator Ridge Resort, was kind enough to describe a few of his favourite holes for us:
“After walking off the green at the spectacular downhill par three 5th, you will think that life can’t get much better… until you walk onto the tee at the next hole. There you will see a beautiful spread before you of the Okanagan Valley, including the great Okanagan Lake that defines the region.
A natural rock face runs along the right side of a hole that drops down dramatically down from the tee. Aim for the left centre of the fairway and let the bowled landing area take your ball to the bottom of the hill. A short iron is all you will need from there to reach the green.
The path to the tee at the long par four 17th passes the Hockey Canada Log Cabin, the official summer home of the Hockey Canada team. A visually intimidating tee shot then awaits because golfers can see water stretching all the way down the left hand side of the hole.At the 18th, the fairway leads towards the clubhouse with many bunkers on either side to test your accuracy off the tee one last time. Take one or two extra clubs to reach the elevated green because, with people in the clubhouse watching, you’ll want to make sure your final shot to the green gets onto the putting surface.”
The issue for many of the courses that are in the greater Kelowna area of BC is their lack of visibility on the global stage. I had the opportunity to visit the interior part of the Province from the sage advice of a tour operator based in the area. His advice was spot on because there are a slew of good options to enjoy.
The Ridge Course is striking for its overall beauty. Given that this is a resort it's crucial to keep the course within the playability of the widest array of different handicap types.
Opened in 2010 and designed by Doug Carrick -- the Ridge starts with a series of four par-4 holes that are functional but not exactly scintillating -- that changes when you arrive at the long par-3 5th. The elevated tee provides a glorious view of the countryside below. It's truly an eyeful. The drop shot is a tough one -- wind can be swirling -- and being able to commit before starting the backswing can be a tough chore.
The par-4 6th and par-5 7th that follow continue the connection to Mother Nature in a big time way. There's more room than many players might envision but be forewarned playing the appropriate tees is a must unless you feel compelled to be a major supplies to the Predator Ridge ball fund.
The counter-clockwise routing makes a turn back to the clubhouse when you reach the par-3 8th hole. Carrick smartly avoided draconian uphill holes although the par-5 9th does rise from tee to green.
The stretch of golf from the 5th through the 11th is one where one must execute to a high level consistently. There's a bit of forgiveness but if you're looking for divine blessings for wayward shots think again.
The Ridge drops down a bit in terms of hole quality when you reach the par-3 12th. The uphill par-5 13th is simply a repeat type hole from what one played earlier at the 9th.
Interestingly, just as one is finishing the short par-4 16th -- you wonder how the course will concludes. The 17th and 18th occupy completely different land to the holes that preceded it. You break out into meadowland for the two holes.
The 17th at 472 yards is arguably the most demanding tee shot at the course. Water hugs the left side from tee to green and there are a few bunkers well-positioned down the right side for those who bailout. The green is narrow in the front that flares out on both sides to the rear. Getting near the pin is no small task. The 18th offers no reprieve. Going in the opposite direction the 461-yard par-4 also tests one's tee game. There's more space to land the ball but for those who hit the rough you'll face a devilish predicament as a stream cuts roughly 40 yards in front of the hole. If one is left with a so-so lie it's best to lay-up and play from there. The green is elevated so it's more than likely additional clubs will be need to get to the target.
The Ridge is a solid resort golf test. One has to be in control of your tee shots in order to have any hope in posting low scores. However, the bunker style is fairly vanilla and the green contours are mild with little in terms of complexity.
All in all, The Ridge is akin to an Indiana Jones movie -- you didn't come for the riveting dialogue but the course does provide more than its share of thrills and spills. Just fasten your seat belt.
by M. James Ward