Kimberly, B.C. - After eighty years of blasting rock and hauling ore out of the Sullivan mine, (the majority of which is located underneath the quaint little town of Kimberly, British Columbia) the gates to the mine will permanently close. On December 21st, 2001, this gigantic cavity beneath the earth will become a desolate cavern visited only by tourists. Although many local residents will be forced to alter their tour of duty and relocate to other mines, many (at least the golf ball striking kind) will opt to stay and retire to the lush fairways of the nearby links. After all, Trickle Creek, the only golf course in British Columbia to receive a 4 ½ star rating from Golf Digest, offers world-class golf right on their doorstep.
Trickle Creek is a tumbling trek through pines and rugged alpine land. The course features many elevation gains and losses. Many of the holes dive with the fall lines and cruise along rocky creeks, reaching greens perched onto shelves or tucked eloquently under pines. Whether you're a local mountaineer or out-of-town "flatlander," the course is a joy to play.
Trickle Creek opened in 1993. Les Furber, known for his many quality designs in the area (there is currently another Furber course under construction in Marysville - just down the road from Kimberly), was the architect and his work is of the mouth-watering variety. Ample use of greenside mounding, tiered putting surfaces, and plenty of bunkering best characterize Furber's work. Trickle Creek has all of that and more.
"With the mine closing, the push for tourism, most specifically tourism revolving around golf, has given many area residents an opportunity to work and play," says Paul Dashkewytch, Trickle Creek's Head Golf Professional. "We have a strong base of local golfers, however, our biggest market is in Calgary," he finished. Calgary, a city of nearly one million people, is the gateway to the mountains and is a four-hour drive northeast of Kimberly.
With a slope of 133 and just under 6,900 yards in length, Trickle Creek is unquestionably championship golf. However, like so many resort courses, it really softens up from the forward tees. Also, the majority of the fairways are wide, allowing you to peg it high and launch it with your driver. The greens are massive, tiered, and a delight to putt on.
Trickle gets off to a sluggish start. In fact, the first two holes do not follow in that "tee-it-up-and-crank-it" philosophy. The first, a short par-4, just 328 yards from the back tees, is very narrow and features a creek crossing the fairway 270 yards from the tee. No.2, another "shortish" par-4 where hitting driver off the tee can cause misery, features a bumpy target area that can be reached with a long iron or fairway wood. From there the hole falls to the left and offers a green well guarded by grassy mounds and sand short.
Trickle starts to open up at the third and it keeps on getting better. No. 3 is a dynamite par-3 with strong bunkering and an extremely long, challenging green. The fourth hole is the first of four terrific par-5s at Trickle. It is the most accessible in two shots and has loads of room off the tee (you'll be dying to hit your driver by this point).
The next three holes are rock-solid par-4's (perhaps the toughest stretch of holes at Trickle), featuring fairways that cruise along the hillsides and require accurate mid-iron shots into the greens. No. 5 is the no.1 handicap hole at Trickle. It's long and mean. The fairway falls off to second tier and beckons for a soft fade off the tee to keep the ball on the top (and much easier) portion of the fairway. From there the green sits up and is well guarded by everything.
Missing in the wrong spot at Trickle is lethal. Take No. 8 for example, which is a tremendous par-3 in a natural amphitheater. Miss the green to the right and you'll need a packhorse and four days of provisions if you want to go find it. Fortunately, just like most anywhere, the golf balls come in sleeves of three in the Trickle Creek pro shop (buy two sleeves at the turn).
The back nine at Trickle includes a variety of captivating holes filled with dramatic views, daring tee-shots, and good ol fashioned mountain golf adventure. No. 11, another one-shot test with a green set way below the tee, is a treat to play. Club selection can be hazardous! Like most of the greens at Trickle, it is well protected by sand and mounding. Take a picture at the eleventh - it's the signature hole.
"There are so many good golf holes there," says Jeff Plett, a local golf professional who heads up to Trickle on a regular basis. "I've had many good rounds going there only to be shot down in flames on the closing holes," he finished. He's not the only one. The closing holes at Trickle are penal, starting with the fourteenth, a beast of a par-3 that requires a pinpoint long iron to reach the floor. From there, the fifteenth, a tricky par-4 that plays over water and up the hill, also features a green with numerous pin placements, all of which are tough to find.
No. 17 offers one last decent chance to make a birdie; however, it won't come easy. The seventeenth is a bold, sweeping par-5 with trouble everywhere. Although it can be reached in two, only those with nerves of steel willing to risk it all in search of glory will come out on top. Anything hit short will be swallowed by the creek and miss-hits left or right will find the woods. It's a great par-5.
The finisher at Trickle is a medium length par-4 that dips down to a giant green (it's actually attached to the practice putting green) with the pond and clubhouse in the background. Again, it's a tricky hole to judge your yardage as the hole falls abruptly, nearly forty feet below the fairway.
Whether you're an ex-miner, ex-marine, or local mountaineer, you're sure to find pleasure on the fairways at Trickle Creek. Understandably, the area is booming with golf (as opposed to booming with TNT). If you get the chance, head to the Bavarian capital of Canada (you'll see what I mean when you visit Kimberly's famed "Platzl" area and downtown core), and don't forget your niblicks. Just like the German pastries you'll find in the Platzl's bakery, the golf is always sweet in the Kootenays.
Trickle Creek Golf Resort
P.O. Box 190
Kimberly, B.C., Canada
Phone (Pro Shop) 1-250-427-5171
Championship Tees - 6,896 yards, par 72, 133 slope, 72.9 rating
Blue Tees - 6,389 yards, par 72, 129 slope, 70.6 rating
White Tees - 5,725 yards, par 72, 122 slope, 67.6 rating
Green Tees - 5,082 yards, par 72, 121 slope, 69.2 rating
$79 - $89 (includes cart & driving range)
The town of Kimberly is located in the southeast quadrant of British Columbia. Kimberly is nestled in the heart of the Purcell Mountains, twenty minutes north of Cranbrook, B.C. By car, Kimberly is an eight-hour drive east of Vancouver and four hours southwest of Calgary, Alberta. The golf course is located five minutes from downtown Kimberly towards the ski hill.
Stay at the Trickle Creek Residence Inn By Marriott, located in the heart of the Kimberly Alpine Village. The Marriott features deluxe accommodations with spas, Jacuzzis, meeting rooms, and restaurant. Call toll-free at 877-282-1200 to make reservations. Inquire about their golf packages. The town of Kimberly also features an abundance of smaller inns, motels, and bed and breakfasts.
Kelsey's Restaurant and bar in the Marriott is a great place to unwind after your round. Kelsey's features a classic menu filled with North American favorites in a relaxed atmosphere. In town, try Chef Bernard's located in the downtown Platzl area. Chef Bernard's is regarded as one of the best dining experiences in the Kootenays. Enjoy authentic Bavarian dishes in a European setting (hint: order the "Hunter" schnitzel).
Kimberly is a recreational haven. There is excellent hiking, fishing, rafting, and other world-class outdoor pursuits in the area. Try fly-fishing in the St. Mary's river - it's regarded as one of the best fishing rivers in the world. Also, Whiteswan Provincial Park, located ½ hour north of Kimberly, is a wilderness utopia with spectacular natural hot springs, lakes, and rivers. Take a tour of the Sullivan mine and enrich yourself with the local mining history.