Scattered throughout Alberta are a number of great golf courses just waiting to be discovered. Over the past couple years with travel restrictions in place, it has given us the opportunity to explore some of the great courses right here in this beautiful province. One such club we discovered earlier this year was the Athabasca Golf Club.
Located about ninety minutes north of St. Albert set within the towering trees of the boreal forest in the Athabasca River Valley, you will find the Athabasca Golf Course. Known for it’s beauty and perhaps it’s difficulty (ranked as the 4th toughest from the back tees that can stretch out over 7,300 with a 142 slope rating) Athabasca is actually quite playable and fun when you choose the right tee-box.
From the moment you walk from the car park to the back of the clubhouse and see the beautiful view down the first hole you know that the drive (which features some nice scenery along the way) was worth it and that your in for a great day!
The landing areas are quite wide and with exception of the par-3 third and fourteenth holes you could run your approach shots up onto the greens. There are two styles of holes that blend together seamlessly and make Athabasca an interesting and fun layout, tree-lined holes (1 through 10, 17 & 18) and a group of more open holes set high atop the bank of the Athabasca River (11 through 16).
We lucked out on our trip as the sun was shinning and there was just enough of a breeze to keep things comfortable. The course was in great shape, greens are massive – pin placements on a couple holes make you think about your approach shot and to score well one must navigate the tree lined fairways on the front nine well.
Shots sprayed a little to the left or right will have you in the trees and perhaps needing to punch out. We were extremely fortunate to be paired up with a couple guys who knew the course well; Brad who works on the grounds crew gave us loads of tips on how to best play the course, sometimes the golf gods let us follow his advice and sometimes not. The other gentlemen we played with was 84 year young Albert, who hit the ball on a rope every time and often shoots
his age which is no surprise after touring the course with him. It was a pleasure to have them both join us for the round.
The course offers 4 sets of tees from the Gold at 7228 yards right down to the Green tees at 5214 yards and a par 72 track. Be sure to select the right tees and you are sure to have a great day. As we mentioned before, this course is a beast and will challenge the best players from the
My favorite hole on the front nine was the par-3, third hole (shown below). The hole plays anywhere from 88-219 yards with another stunning elevated tee box. Choose at least 1.5 to 2 clubs less off the tee and be sure you have enough club to clear the creek that runs in front of the very approachable green.
The back nine is more open, rolling fairways and a number of risk/ reward tee shots. Once again a par 3 on the back really stood out to me. The 186-94 yard fourteenth is another stunning hole (shown below) and could be considered a ‘signature hole’. With water short and along the entire right side of this beautiful hole there is a bail out area left of the green. If you do find the green you will have a good chance at birdie.
Athabasca Golf Club was designed by Sid Puddicombe and his team and they did a superb job of routing the course. It is a fair and fun test of golf for all skill levels.
The staff in the clubhouse was very friendly, it seemed as though they truly appreciated visitors making the trip up north. While we were there a bus group from Edmonton rolled in and I’m sure they enjoyed the round as much as we did.
There are several accommodation options in Athabasca if you choose to head up there for a couple days, golf, fishing and outdoors activities a plenty. In fact there’s even a campsite adjacent to the golf course.
I would highly recommend you add Athabasca Golf Club to your must play list this summer, you’ll be glad you did. Special thanks goes out to the GM/Head Pro, Geoff Dunn and his staff for the invite and the wonderful day, we will be back!
•First 9 holes opened in 1963, full 18 holes opened in 1995
•Sid Puddicombe design
•18 Holes, par 72
•From the tips rated as the 4th most difficult course in all of Canada
•$45 weekday / $60 weekend (walking)
•Putting green, driving range, restaurant with a great patio, fully stocked Pro-Shop