Around the corner from the Fairmont Banff Springs and Stewart Creek, Silvertip Golf Resort is a modern, thrilling round of mountain golf in Alberta's Canadian Rockies.
CANMORE, Alberta, Canada - Who doesn't love mountain golf? The cool air, gorgeous scenery and even the extra 10 percent of distance we get on our drives sailing through high altitudes.
But some golf courses play through mountains, and others play up and down them. In Alberta's Canadian Rockies, the region's two most prominent classics, Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge are Stanley Thompson designs from the 1920s that play along gently rolling landscape. The mountains surround you while you play a low-lying, traditional valley golf course.
For your mountain golf itch, where you're playing up and down with the mountain goats, you'll want to head to Silvertip Golf Resort in nearby Canmore.
This modern, Les Furber design is as invigorating as mountain golf gets. There is more than 600 feet of elevation change on the property. But before you think it's a resort-style cakewalk where each hole heads downhill and then you drive your cart uphill to the next tee and play back down again, there are plenty of holes that play uphill, and a slew of elevated greens.
Silvertip Golf Resort makes for a pretty stern test of golf, enough for PGA Tour pro Stephen Ames to call it his "home resort course." It plays to more than 7,200 yards, has a slope of 153 from the championship tees, and is full of uneven lies and shots seldom played to the same level as where you're standing.
The roller coaster starts on the recently redesigned first hole: a downhill tee shot that doglegs left, tumbles down a hill even further to a shallow green. Frequent players at Silvertip Golf Resort might even think about driving the green here. If it's your first time, a layup with a hybrid or iron to the bulk of the fairway will do.
From there, the par-5 second is even better, playing downhill once again to a fairway that appears small, but is bowled by two large hills that can help nudge the ball into the center.
But you ain't seen nothing yet.
The golf course tumbles up and down throughout the mountain side on what they call the "sunny side" of the Bow Valley.
Silvertip Golf Resort's 13th is the furthest drop on the golf course, about 150 feet from tee to fairway, with the Three Sisters mountain peaks in the background. And on the 18th, despite playing well over 460 yards, can be had with a driver-wedge if you take the right angle off the tee and get a few springboard bounces down the slope.
If you don't want to just be surrounded by mountains, but play your golf up and down one, Silvertip will be your favorite golf course of the bunch in Alberta's Canadian Rockies.
At least half of the holes at Silvertip Golf Resort, from the sweeping par-5 10th to the gorgeous, water-laden third could be put on the ballot for signature hole here.
If you're not up to something quite as extreme, Stewart Creek across the Bow Valley is a little less steep, but a modern designed, championship golf course.
The Silvertip Golf Resort clubhouse is a beautiful stone and wood lodge and features meeting space, a full pro shop casual bar and grill, as well as a new steakhouse, Rustica, which prides itself on offering 100 percent Canadian Prime, which puts it in the top .3 percent of meat served in Canada.
The golf course and clubhouse is the centerpiece of what is slated to become a pretty extraordinarily large community that looks like it's something out of the Swiss Alps according to an artist rendition in the clubhouse, so stay tuned. Peak season green fees at Silvertip are $150-175 starting from June 1.
Silvertip Golf Resort is about a 20-minute drive from Banff, home to one of golf's most storied and recognizable hotels, the Fairmont Banff Springs.
The monstrous castle set in the mountains was originally built in the late 19th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, the Fairmont property is a 700-plus room resort with 27 holes of it's own, plus it's own shopping center, spa and numerous dining options, including the golf course's former clubhouse, Waldhaus, which means "house in the forest."
Off the course, there are plenty of other ways to explore the wilderness here, from hiking and biking trails to whitewater rafting and river floating.
August 27, 2009