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 her 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 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.”
Predator Ridge – ‘The Ridge Course’ is a spectacular mountain design with huge elevation changes and panoramic views. Every tee shot seems to start from an elevated plateau offering numerous photo opportunities. The only uphill drive you will find is in your power cart heading up to the next tee block. Sir Isaac Newton could have been playing The Ridge when he was quoted as saying “What goes up must go down”. The fairways are well tree-lined that are mounded like a stadium that typically funnel your errant shots back to the short stuff.
The first hole used to be the 10th on the original ‘The Predator Course’ but that is where the resemblance ends, and the sibling rivalry begins. From there on you are in for a roller coaster ride.
In my opinion you would be prudent to leave the driver in your bag for the first five holes since accuracy is more important than distance to begin your round.
One of my most memorable holes is #5, a downhill 229-yard par 3 with the Okanagan Lake in the background. Spectacular view. The advantage is that the power carts come equipped with GPS, with readings to the pin. But the most unique bonus is that all sprinkler heads are marked to account for the slope change. As well all the 150 yards poles have stripes on them to indicate the pin depth. The disadvantage is that you now have all the information you need to eliminate any excuses you may have for making a bad shot.
The 6th is my favourite hole. An elevated tee shot on this par 4 gives you an amazing vista of the lake on the right with the mountains in the background to an elevated green. #8 is a par 3 190 yards where the best chance is to hit your tee shot right, off the side hill and watch it funnel to the green.
#10 is the only uphill hole on the course. You still drive from an elevated block over a valley but are faced with an uphill approach to a difficult green. Play you drive down the left of this dog leg left for best angle at this well bunkered green.
#17 is a great par 4 dogleg left with water down the entire left side. Bite off only as much as you can chew.
This course is visually stunning, with large fast greens and consistent white silica sand bunkers. Certainly, worthy of being #33 in the Top 100 Courses in Canada.
I was fortunate enough to first play The Ridge Course at Predator Ridge about a week before its official opening back in 2010.
Doug Carrick and his team built the $10 million Ridge Course, which features eight completely redesigned holes from the old Peregrine course and ten brand new ones. The terrain is absolutely spectacular, with holes climbing up and down the mountainside, rock outcroppings galore and beautiful vistas of surrounding mountains and lakes always a constant.
The course doesn't feature a "figure 8" routing, instead starting and finishing near the clubhouse on very open land in an "out and back" style.
The first hole plays on this links-style land but a very long cart ride awaits in order to get to the second tee and right away you can see the character of the course change, as you move into more of a parkland setting, albeit on a mountainside with rock outcroppings at almost every turn.
The downhill par four second is a beauty and the two-shot third takes you right back uphill. The dogleg right par four 4th is another strong hole, as you get your first glimpse of the lake well down below.
The 244 yard par three 5th is just a gorgeous piece of business, falling straight downhill the whole way with the mountains and lake providing a memorable backdrop. Things get even more interesting on the 438 yard par four 6th, as a very large and intimidating rock outcropping obscures the landing area from the tee, making first-time play quite a challenge! I think we sat on that tee for at least a minute before figuring out our line! What a golf hole!
You continue your descent on the par five 7th, a lovely dogleg left that starts to climb from the landing area all the way to the green.
From there, you must deal with a tough 229 yard par three before concluding the outgoing nine on the visually stunning par five 9th, a reachable 509 yarder that features rock outcroppings on both sides of the hole.
You begin to climb back up the hillside on the par four 10th, which again features an outcropping that comes into play just left of the green. The 11th is a lengthy par five that climbs the entire way uphill and features a narrow entry into a well-protected greensite.
The 12th is a picturesque mid-length par three measuring 171 yards with a large and undulating putting surface and the 13th is the last par five on the course, a lengthy 562 yarder with a bit of a halfpipe-styled fairway that runs between the outcroppings.
The 14th requires a precise touch both from the tee and green. Not long at only 396 from the tips, the tee shot plays downhill but the second shot is uphill to a partially blind green site, especially if you lay back too far, with a large outcropping on the left side always on your mind on the approach.
The 15th is the last one-shotter on the course, a little 165 yarder with water fronting the left side of the green and an outcropping in the back right that causes trouble for any players that decide to bail out.
The 16th is a bit of an awkward hole, a 336 yard par four that tumbles downhill with a greensite hidden behind the treeline and a water hazard on the left. A definite "position-first" hole.
The course moves back to open, links-style land for the last two holes and both are absolute brutes.
The 17th is a 472 yard par four monster, featuring a diagonal carry across a water hazard with bunkers through the fairway on the right. Meanwhile, the 18th goes back the other way toward the clubhouse and the second shot is a doozy, uphill, over a little creek to a very elevated and expansive putting surface.
Almost all of the Doug Carrick courses I've played share similar characteristics and The Ridge Course is no different. You'll find plenty of elevated tee shots throughout the round, wide playing corridors, more than a fair share of uphill approaches and large and conservatively contoured putting surfaces. He designs fun golf courses and The Ridge definitely qualifies.
As usual with Carrick, the architecture is strong and he's done a very good job using the land given to him. The routing is a bit awkward in spots but I'd be hard-pressed to offer an opinion on what he could have done to make it better. The course is very playable for players of all levels and it's certainly a heck of a lot of fun.
The golf course was pretty much brand new when we first played and I must say that I was extremely impressed with the overall conditioning. You can tell that the resort didn't rush people onto this course, instead letting it grow in and settle before having some play. The turf was nice and firm through the greens and the bunker edges didn't have that brittle look that you sometimes get with newly-designed courses. Bravo!
And I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the views, which certainly rank up there with the best our country has to offer. Simply stunning!
Unfortunately, the course really isn't walkable, with a couple significant green-to-tee transfers and a lot of downhill/uphill climbs throughout the round but I don't want that to deter any ardent walkers from experiencing this fine track.
Predator Ridge's Ridge Course took home some “Best New Canadian” awards upon opening in 2010 and it is considered by many to be among the top 50 courses in the country. It's a must-play for any visitors to the Okanagan region in British Columbia and I look forward to returning, hopefully sooner rather than later.
My full Predator Ridge (Ridge) course profile and pictorial can be found here at Now on the Tee: http://nowonthetee.blogspot.com/2011/03/predator-r...
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