Ralph Vold was an outstanding Canadian sportsman in his younger years, excelling at baseball and ice hockey. He played professionally for the Brooklyn Dodgers and San Fransisco Giants baseball teams. As he grew older his sporting interests turned to golf and he devoted himself to constructing a first class golf facility on grazing land owned by his family.
Vold enlisted the golf architect Rod Whitman in 1981 to construct a golf course and clubhouse on his brother’s ranch in Ponoka, between Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. Two years later, a log cabin clubhouse was completed and, at over 20,000 square feet, it is one of the largest hand carved log buildings in the country.
The next year, the nine-hole West course opened for play, followed in 1985 by the nine-hole East course. A further nine holes were added five years later when the South course came into being, bringing the total number of holes up to 27. Plans to expand the golf resort further into a 36-hole, two 18-hole course facility came to pass in 2010. Now the facility can boast two fine courses, the Old and the Links.
This new, North nine holes was created by Rod Whitman and there are some monster holes - a 270 yard par 3 and a 650 yard par 5, for instance – for golfers that are obviously from the John Daly “grip it and rip it” mould!
The existing Wolf Creek course (now known as the Old course) saw a lot of earth moved during construction – imitation dunes were fashioned – but it often receives comments from visiting golfers of how natural the terrain is. This is a compliment to the architect that artificial features blend in so well to the native landscape on these “faux links” holes. Its rugged terrain and dramatic contours cause the course to play a lot longer than the yardage on the scorecard reads.
The signature hole is probably “Hawk’s Alley”, the 385-yard par four 4th on the Old course, where the tee shot, through a narrow chute of black spruce trees to a generous landing area, is followed by an approach to a green surrounded on two sides by water, with a deep bunker protecting the right side.
Wolf Creek Golf Resort has lodges on site for “stay and play” golfers who want to rest overnight before or after their golfing trip. And, interestingly, they not only offer twilight golf green fees, they also have “moonlight” rates too – they certainly breed them tough out west!
December 20, 2008