On to Cranbrook and Shadow Mountain

Our adventures in Eureka were now over, the American money we’d taken with us was all spent, so back in the car we got, all packed up with our suitcases and golf clubs and headed back into Canada. Next stop on this road trip: Cranbrook, B.C.

I’d made a reservation to play golf at Shadow Mountain on Friday, but on Thursday morning, Ruth and I had felt like golfing and re-arranging our plans. So I called the pro shop to see if we could play golf today instead of tomorrow. They said yes!

Shadow Mountain

Tanzine (Food and Special Occasions Manager) and Brenda (Pro Shop Manager) – the welcoming committee at the Shadow Mountain Golf Course.

Were off to the club to have breakfast around 9:30 a.m.  Bacon, sausages and eggs, toast and coffee were very good.

Shadow Mountain

The driving range has REAL greens and a fairway down the middle.

I’ve played Shadow Mountain several times before. It’s one of my favourite courses. In Scoregolf’s latest rankings of public golf courses in Canada, Shadow Mountain comes in 52nd in their top 59. Although I’m glad that it’s on that prestigious list, I’m disappointed that it doesn’t rank better. It’s designed by Graham Cooke and Wayne Carleton, the architects that designed another of my favourite courses, Dakota Dunes just outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Cooke and Carleton seem to be able to take the natural surroundings into consideration when they design a course, and that makes playing their courses so delightful. It’s been open since 2010 and I discovered it in July 2011 and have come back to play it at least once a year ever since. One of the reasons I love it so much is because of their excellent practice facilities, which is much more than a driving range. In fact, this is an experience like no other. They have real greens and bunkers — and a fairway right down the middle of the range, so practicing there is much more real than anywhere else I’ve ever been. I remember watching the TV coverage of the 2012 Ryder Cup which was held at in at the Medinah Golf & Country Club in Medinah, Illinois. There had been some improvements to the practise facilities in preparation for the tournament. The media was oohing and aahing about how great the practice facilities now were, and I remember shaking my head at their comments and thinking to myself, “Whatever! If they want to see a great practice facility, they should come to Shadow Mountain. Now that’s a facility that’s outstanding!”

Before we played we hit some balls on the range, and were on the first tee at 10:45. As you know, the summer has been very hot and dry in B.C. and the golf course has suffered a bit because of that. In an effort to keep the grass from burning they have (it seemed to me) put quite a lot of water on the course.  In fact, in some places, it was quite spongy and soft. We had a great time with no one behind us but one single player who didn’t seem to want to play with us!  There was a foursome ahead of us on the back nine, and we waited just a few minutes on each hole.  I didn’t have any birdies today but this is the second day in a row that I have played with the same ball!

The famous "Monster" hole with smoke from the fires.

The famous “Monster” hole with smoke from the fires.

We still seem to be finding the bunkers and there is an abundance of them on this course.  One of the par 3’s was playing 135 yards but it is extremely uphill.  There was little fairway and it sloped both right and left with trees on both sides.  I remembered that I used my 5-wood there before, and sometimes that was short.  I decided to use it, though, and hit the ball right and still had a 50 yard shot to clear the bunker, green side.  I knew the green sloped from right to left but I could not see any part of the green, just the flag.  There were three maintenance people working just at the back of the green and they waved us up.  I knew I needed to just catch the hill to the right if I was going to put my ball on the putting surface.  I did just that with my sand wedge. When I drove the golf car up to the green, there my ball was, 4 inches from the cup. I got a (rather amazing) par on that hole, and that would have been my shot of the day. As you can see from the pictures, it was pretty smoky from the forest fires that were still burning in Washington State, Idaho and Montana. The smoke from these fires is making its way north into Canada.

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