Canada's Jasper Lodge Scenic Golf
by Larry Larsen
While it's only 6,598 yards from the white tees and a par 71, it's hard to beat a course that deliberately follows the undulation of the surrounding mountains and provides such
stupendous views at every approach. This is not a course for the long hitter, rather for the golfer that likes playing strategic shots and enjoys his/her short game. The typical
round costs around $200 in high season, and we were hoping that price would match expectations. We were not disappointed.
Upon arrival at the golf course, we were provided with rental golf clubs, Taylor Made brand in excellent condition. The practice range was
more than utilitarian, it was beautiful. Although small (only 12 stations), it was appointed with large plastic mats with built-in ball containers which kept the balls within easy
reach. The practice stations were separated by large planters of beautiful colorful flowers, offering a colorful backdrop to the sound of hooks and shanks.
As our tee time approached, we realized that the golfers' names were announced through a loudspeaker, providing a little notoriety to each player. As we prepared to tee
off and got the first good look of the first hole, we knew we had better give this layout our best try. This long 368-yard par four was a steep uphill battle to the first tee. We're
in pretty good physical shape, but we huffed and puffed all the way. It gave us an inclination of how we were to play the rest of the course.
The second hole turned out to be a difficult par 5 despite its wide fairways. We had brought a dozen balls, and the first one of many was lost on this hole. As with all the
holes on the course, the green is open on the front, but a massive bunker near the green tends to worry you a bit. This hole was named "Old Man" due to the silhouette of the
distant mountain which looks like an Indian chief resting.
The #4 hole was the first time we had played a par 3 blindly, literally. We had to wait until the foursome ahead of us rang a bell to let us
know they had cleared the green. Like all the par 3s, this one was devious, uphill as well as blind. Even the bunkers behind the green were scenic on the #5 hole; they were
designed to imitate the contour of mountains in the distance.
One of the most spectacular and scenic holes was the par 3 #9, with the impressive Pyramid Mountain
behind it. Let us not forget this par 3 plays much shorter than indicated on the scorecard. Thompson's design is of a raised green surrounded by seven, yes seven, bunkers. Don't
let your mind wander.
We won't easily forget hole #11. A young black bear was parked at the edge of the fairway watching the golfers and chomping on wild berries. Fortunately, the bears on the
course and along the highways (we saw several) focus on the ripe in mid to late summer. As a result they are not much of a threat to man unless you get between them and
their cubs or food source. We kept our ball away from the bear and continued our game.
It was an unusually hot day in Jasper, nearly 85o F, with low humidity but we weren't used to the steep hills and fairways throughout the layout. As
the game progressed, it got tougher and tougher. But it didn't matter, especially on #14, "Lac Beauvert.". This is the first of 3 holes built on a peninsula and
surrounded by a crystal clear glacial lake. When we were ready to tee off, we noticed a flock of 50 Canada Geese about 130 yards away, between us and the hole. Our balls
bounced up to them, and they didn't give them a second look. As we approached in our cart, the grazing geese moved over to the opposite edge of the fairway. We stopped our
cart and looked up to see a young moose just quietly staring at us not 20 feet away. Most Canadians are accustomed to this wild side of nature, but we certainly didn't expect it!
The next hole, "Bad Baby," is the shortest in distance but also the toughest. The green is extremely narrow, only 14 yards, and bordered by two huge sand traps
that are not as close to the green as they seem. If you don't make the green on the first shot, then resign yourself to two or three shots just to get on the green because the ball
will either bounce or roll off this highly elevated surface. Ryan Logan, one of the golf pros, indicated the resort is making it even tougher by shortening the green some more!
Pity the future players.
By the time we reached hole #17, called "The Climber," our energy was completely gone. Our legs were tired, our arms were sore and apparently the heat was tougher on us
than we anticipated. In this altitude, it's wise to stay hydrated.
Jasper Lodge Golf Course is set in a valley among the spectacular 10,000 Rocky Mountains as a distant backdrop. Needless to say, this setting definitely alleviates the
difficulties of playing this course unprepared. It is truly a visual delight and, like most excellent golf course layouts, one that a player must experience more than once. Let's hope so!
For information on the area and the golf course, contact:
Jasper Tourism & Commerce
Phone - 780-852-3858
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Hotel Tel: (780) 852-3301