• Sky Mountain Golf Course, Hurricane, UT

  • Maureen O’Shea at Torrey Pines

Being on a road trip, moving from place to place, playing golf — and writing about everything that happens — is a little crazy. What made it a bit more crazy is the forest fires in the North Western United States were impacting the places we visited in Northern Montana, Eastern B.C. and Western Alberta – including Wi-Fi reception. It’s only after I’ve been back at my home base and talking with my friends and family about our latest adventures that I remember some details that I think you’d like to hear. So here’s the “Six Days on the Road” Road Trip Review!

Even before we left, we were having problems with the Canadian par offer. Somehow, the dots weren’t connected between the flyer in the Calgary Herald and the reservation team in Whitefish. When it seemed to be finally sorted out, we discovered the Front Desk wasn’t aware of the offer, and they wanted to charge us a price much higher than what was promised, when we checked in. It all got resolved, thank goodness, and I will put up a post about what you need to watch out for with offers like that because we were running in circles for a while. And nobody needs that kind of stress.

The blue sky in Alberta that started our road trip

Alberta blue sky

When we left on Sunday morning, we had a clear, Alberta blue, sky.  Have you noticed? There is a different blue to the sky in Saskatchewan than in Alberta or even in Big Sky Country itself, Montana.  This particular morning was also wind-free, so what a great way it was to start a road trip!

The three highways, #8, 22 and 3 that took us to the USA are in excellent condition but #93 from the border to Whitefish, MT is narrow and breaking down on the sides.  Keeping close to the speed limit makes for a bumpy ride!  Close to Whitefish was the start of major reconstruction of the highway.  I must admit those construction workers seem to work really fast and efficiently there.

It was a bit smoky from the fires when we arrived in Whitefish and it was smoky when we played the North and South courses at Whitefish Lake.  We played as a twosome on Monday and a gentleman joined us on Tuesday, who introduced himself as Bob.

Bob was a true gentleman who spends the winters in Houston and the summers in Whitefish.  He was so encouraging to both of us, and commented so positively on our good shots.  I found that to be so helpful in my confidence and I am sure it was his praise of the way I was hitting my driver that I actually hit one of my drives 220 yards.

I can’t stop talking about it…

I was extremely impressed with the overall design of The Wilderness Club.  The Pro Shop wasn’t large, but it was well equipped. The plans are now to turn it into a four-season resort and the Pro Shop will be used to accommodate winter sports equipment in the cold months.  The eating area is more like a coffee,shop than a dining room, which I think is SMART.  There is no need to have a fancy dining room in the wilderness.  All the public really wants is a place to eat when you finish your sporting activities.  An extensive menu is not needed either.  Good food made by a good chef is all we want!

I wrote about how terrific the cottages are and the BEDS were at The Wilderness Club, but there are a couple of other great details I didn’t tell you about.  The shower was excellent too, with a great shower head.  There was a bench inside the shower, which I thought was an added plus, and the white towels were oversized and exceptionally soft cotton.  PERFECT.

Prestige Hotel and Resort - Jessica and me

Prestige Hotel and Resort – Jessica from the Front Desk and me, Maureen O’Shea

It is only 100 kms from Eureka, Montana and The Wilderness Club to Cranbrook, B.C. and we’d booked into the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort there for the last two nights away from home for this road trip. When we checked in we were gifted with a sleeve of balls and a golf towel each. What a nice surprise for our arrival at our new temporary home!


A sleeve of balls and a golf towel welcomed us when we checked into the Prestige in Cranbrook.

A sleeve of balls and a golf towel welcomed us when we checked into the Prestige in Cranbrook.

The Prestige Hotels & Resorts are a family-owned group of full service hotels in B.C. founded by the hardworking, first generation Canadian, Josef Huber Sr. His story is a very interesting success story and now his son Joe is at the head of the company, keeping it family run.

We were disappointed that there were no lamb shanks on the menu at the Purcell Restaurant at the St. Eugene Mission in Cranbrook, as we went there for supper (and do a little bit of gambling).  It had been two years since I was last there and it looks like their new chef changed the menu as well as the atmosphere: it is high class AND high price now.  But since we saw there were lamb shanks on the menu at the restaurant at the Prestige Hotel, we decided to eat there on Thursday night (both Ruth and I love <3 lamb chops!).  We both enjoyed the shanks and the vegetables were perfect!  Neither of us had seen lamb shanks as big as these before, but they were tasty and tender!

The oldest daughter of my good friend, Bob Fleming, lives in B.C. and she wrote a poem that she posted on Facebook, asking Rain to come and make a visit. I think it’s lovely and I asked if I could re-print it and Jennyi’s given me permission to share it with you.

Dear Rain,
We’ve heard whispers of you dear one,
With smouldering eyes & smokey throats,
We yearn for your arrival dear one,
The earth, her trees, her plant beings, her creatures,
We are all in awe & need of you,
Please Dear 0ne,
Come shower us with your holiness,
Dear one,
We miss you, we cherish you.
We love you.
—–Jennifyre Saje

Read more

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.

Read more