Date: 2008-Jun-06 Review by Alberta Bound
Sixteen of the eighteen greens were excellent. The other two had areas of ground under repair where the staff had to replace the grass after some winter kill. These greens were large enough that it was not a problem. The fringe was even and smooth around the greens and the second cut was dense and even as well. The bunkers like the fairway bunkers were excellent and all trimmed nicely. There were no really difficult greens with valleys and ridges that I remember. For the most part they all slanted back to front and a few had a couple of different levels. Check the pin location map on the cart as a few of the greens were quite long.
The fairways were wide and generous in most cases. The grass covered the fairway, was smooth and cut to a decent height. The second cut was even and the grass was dense. You could play you shot from the second cut without a lot of difficulty. The second cut gave way to bush that was partially cleared so you could locate your wayward ball most of the time, however sometimes the terrain did not permit a lot of hunting. Sprinkler heads were marked and the cart path was also marked. Marking the cart path is a big asset when the fairways are closed to carts. All the fairway bunkers were excellent. They were trimmed and had plenty of good quality sand. There were 3 rakes per bunker.
There are five sets of tees. The yardages are; 7195, 6831, 6375, 6026 and 5136. The tee boxes were well groomed, flat and soft. They had attractive tee markers and when you might have trouble deciding where the tee box was located from the cart path, they had what I believe to be an old coal miner lantern colored white or blue. On a number of tee boxes there were old artifacts from the coal mining era that occupied the golf course site. There were bear proof garage cans at each tee box. Each tee box had lots of sand in cart containers in case you ran out of sand and seed. The different tee boxes had official yardage markers which matched the signs and the tee markers.
Steward Creek is a wonderful layout. If you take away the scenery you are still left with a great course to play. This course is a golfers course that has a little of everything. You start from an elevated tee to the first fairway maybe 75 feet below, and you end the nine holes with a 100 foot drop to 9th green with water on the left. The marshal indicated that a number of long ball hitters do try for the green but the rest of us have to lay up to the top of the hill. There are a couple of holes that you might want to take the cart up the fairway to have a look at what is ahead. Number six has maybe a 10 foot ledge with trees that separates the fairway and could cause you a few problems. Number 15 has a creek that crosses in front of the green about 30 yards out. Number 14 is a great risk reward hole. It is only 274 yards from the white and blue tees but has a large gully that crosses in front of the green. Most lay up but a lot go for it. You end your game with a par 5 with the green once again at the bottom of elevated fairway. A lot of golfers should be able to reach the green in two giving them a chance at an eagle.
Value for the dollar is a tough one to score. The green fees are $195 which puts it right in the middle of the other two courses in Canmore and Banff that would be their equal. However for me $195 is too much so I have to rate the value lower as there are also a number of great course within, say 1 to 2 hours drive away that are as good but may not have the scenic value. There is not much lacking at Steward Creek in the way of service, quality of course and condition of the course.
The slopes from the blue and white tees are 128 and 125 which should indicate a course of some difficulty. Most fairways were wide and there was not a lot of water that could cause too many problems. There were an average amount of bunkers on the fairways and around the greens. The sides of the fairways where they had wildlife corridors or forest are red staked to speed up the play. I think all levels of golfers will find this a rewarding place to play if they pick the right tee box to match their handicap.
The course is in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. What more do I need to say. Peaks everywhere looming above you. In fact you may loose your concentration because you are staring at the mountains. There are also a number of old mine shafts dotting the sides of the fairways which make for something different to look at. Steward Creek runs through the property and three or four green lakes dot the landscape. There a few rock outcroppings especially on number 17.
We were treated very well by all the staff. One of our threesome is handicapped and after the first nine we indicated that we would like to drive his cart on the fairway so that he did not have to walk so far. No problem the marshal drove off and got us a flag right away. You are greeted by the staff at the bag drop and they load you cart for you. At the end of 18 the club has a fellow there to clean your clubs. We arrived early and it was not a problem for the pro shop staff to move us up to a vacant tee time. The starter gave us a big welcome and a few tips about the course, like lay up on number nine. The girls in bar heard us talking about finding a hotel and they went out of their way to get us the phone number of a hotel they had stayed at. Over all the staff were friendly and helpful. I also noticed that the on course staff were were dressed in nice golf jackets.
The clubhouse is new this year and has two levels with a large balcony that overlooks the 9th and 18th fairways. There is a small bar and a large dinning room. The menu is not large and has about 4 meals and the traditional golf course food as well. The wine list is average and prices were reasonable. The pro shop was well stocked with everything you might need or forgot. The parking lot was paved and landscaped in front of the clubhouse.
They include the practice facility in the price as well as electric carts with windscreen, rain cover, ball washer, club cleaner, cooler with ice, tees, tip booklet, and water. The cart paths are continuous and paved all the way. Washrooms on and off the course are clean and placed in convenient places. I believe the course is Audubon Certified and they have signs and fences up to protect the areas that are the wildlife corridors. The half way snack bar is conveniently located so you do not have to go out of your way. The parking lot might be too small as I saw a number of cars and trucks parked on the road into the course.
We played here about three weeks after the course opened for the year. It was in great shape and will be even better when the sun gets a little hotter. It wintered very well. I understand they are going to make it a private course as soon as their second course is finished in a year or two. We enjoyed our round and the weather cooperated and it did not rain. It was cool but there was no wind. If you can afford the green fees you must give it a try.