Red Tail Landing Golf Club Is Your First Course to Play in Alberta When Landing At The Edmonton Airport
by Scott A. Sumner
Last week I left my home city of Thunder Bay at 1:40 pm and was on the beautiful Red Tail Landing Golf Course at 4:30 pm. That's a pretty good connection and makes golfing Alberta very easy. Located just a 5 minute drive from the airport, this links style course is ranked very highly in Canada each year. The course was opened in June 2003, after a construction period started in 2000. The course is over 3 kilometres long from the No 14 back nine to No 4 front nine. There is also a 19 acre practice facility with all grass tee areas, 5 putting greens and bunkers and is double ended with a teaching academy done out back. Red Tail Landing has 120 members who are Silver, Gold and Platinum for a membership fee of from $1200 to $3500, with no initiaton cost. The greens fee is $80 Monday through Friday and they have an early bird rate of $65 Monday to Thursday before 10am and a twillite fee of $65 after 3:30. There is also a nine hole walking fee at 6 pm of $30. On the weekend it is $80.00 which includes a cart. The range is $6.50 a bucket of balls or an unlimited yearly membership which is $300.
Red Tail Landing, located in Nisqu, a suburb of Leduc, is owned by the Puttycomes, world renowned course designers whom own courses mainly in BC and Alberta as well as New Zealand and other parts of the world. All are high ranked courses. "We were ranked 81st out of the top 100 courses in Canada by Score Golf this year,' says Brady Richards asst golf professional at Red Tail Landing. "This year we have 30,000 rounds of play so far and year expect 5 or 10,000 more by the end of the year. On average we have 230 players per day and hold lots of corporate events and Canadian Events like the Asst Professional series. We just hosted the world deaf championships."
The course cost $12 million including clubhouse and this year opened on the April 13th and will stay open to mid October. If you are on a trip to the Edmonton area I think you will enjoy the Red Tail Landing course. It is a true links style track with exceptional conditioning. In fact it remined me of a course I had previously played Le Challenger in Montreal, located in a similar urban setting near their airport. You will see the freeway from Edmonton to Calgary on some holes and other the fields of alfafa crop. This is really Alberta.
Alberta Springs Is A Beautiful Layout
Alberta Springs opened August 6, 1996 after being under construction for 4 years and is privately owned by Gary Whalen. With a green fee from Monday to 45 Friday of $50 and a power cart cost of $32 this is a good value. "We will do 38 to 39,000 rounds per year and started early in April this season and go to end of October,' stated Allen Norlin who is the Head Professional at Alberta Springs Golf Club and been in the golf business since 1980. "I just love the whole golf facility we have here. The owner and staff are great and we all work towards to a common goal. Our players come from Calgary and Edmonton and we hold many corporate events as it is a good central place to meet."
Want To Play The Longest Hole In Canada? Try The Nursery at 782 Yards
The Nursery Golf Course began its life as a tree nursery, The Lacombe Nursery, until 1994 when the current owners, the Heinzes decided to build a golf course. The first nine was built then and in 1998 the back nine added and this course is improving each year. The front nine has several dog legs and the back nine has a creek that follows you around.
Unique to the Nursery Golf Course is the longest hole in Canada at 782 yards and a par 6. This brute of a hole requires an accurate drive from a shute through trees uphill, always into a wind with an irrigation pond in the middle. "Last year Rogers Sportnet came out and did a feature on it as one of the top 18 toughest holes in Canada. Also in Alberta was no 9 west at Wolf Creek and no 5 at Blackhawk,' stated Kevin, the Golf Pro at the Nursery. "We do 16 to 18,000 rounds per year and are nicely located between Calgary and Edmonton. It will cost you $33 weekdays and $38 on weekends to play The Nursery."
For 75 years it was trees and shrubs for sale on this property. "We bought it when it went into receivership and ran it as a tree farm before changing over to a golf course. It was a lot of labour and work as 90 % of the design we did ourselves,' notes Heinz. "I went from course to course to see other layouts and got ideas. We didn't want to be crowded like we were in Europe so came to Canada. I have been 26 years here in Canada and really enjoy it' Do the Heinzs play golf? "We go to some other courses to golf as we get side tracked here.' smiled Heinz.
Edmontons Northern Bear Golf Course Begins To Shine
Jack Nicklaus, course designer, would be proud of his creation Northern Bear located in Canada at Edmonton, Alberta. "We opened in 2002 with Mike Weir and Wayne Gretzky playing an event here. It was a severe drought then and we shouldn't have opened but we were too far along with the exhibition to stop. There were 18.000 people watching with no grass in the rough,' smiled Bill Penny, General Manager and Director of Golf at Northern Bear. "That year we closed early but for two months were sold out. The next year we opened late in July for August and Sept. This year, 2006, the course shows how we all envisioned it would with the fescue growing in and the greens getting better. We have done a lot of work on our greens with venting and will continue to work on it."
The construction of Northern Bear took 3 years but had a few up and downs along the way. The real start was in 1989 when Nicklaus first came to the site. "A local individual, Wilf Weinkaun, found the land and put a deposit on it and got a hold of Jack. Jack flew up looked at the property which was solid trees, loved the terrain and said when your ready to go I'll be there. An agreement was signed and then financially everything went south,' stated Penny. "Jack was contacted again 4 or 5 years later, came up and made a big announcement and started construction. There was then more problems raising the funds and also the contractor got into financial problems, didn't pay his subtrades and it seemed like it was doomed. However we got some investors out of Vancouver, one of which is former liberal cabinet minister Herb Dahilwal, who heads up about 8 investors all out of Vancouver and in the hotel business not golf. Today we are making our projections."
Northern Bear came in at the $10 million mark including the club house with the clubhouse costing $3.2 million. There are a total of 200 acres and 170 housing lots to be developed on the course including multi family and single family sites. 50 founding members of Northern Bear put $30,000 each and that $1.5 million was released when the club house was built. There are about 15 annual members but the course hopes for 150 members.
"The clubhouse has been very successfull and we have tripled our projections here. We do a Sunday brunch all year round and get 130 people each day,' said Penny. "We play 200 rounds per day at 9 minutes from 8:30 to 5:30. The drivers range is very nice-double ended and Im looking at a major instructor coming here in the next few years. Jack is excited about coming up and that would be tremendous. We want him here now when the course is how we want it' Bill Penny was previously head pro at Edmonton Creek and then Stewart Creek and is the only Executive Master Professional in Alberta. You can play Northern Bear for $100 or a twilite rate after 6 of 65 with a cart and driving range included.
Wolf Creek A Fun Course To Play
In a great location between Calgary and Edmonton is the Wolf Creek Golf Complex. This 27 hole course is expanding with 9 more holes and a real estate development which should solidify its position as one of the best golf facilities in Canada.
"We started building in 1982 and opened with 9 holes in1984 with 18 in 1985. Our family owned the property which was used by my uncle Harry for rodeo stock. There are 150 acres in the orginal course, 110 acres on the south and 237 acres where we are doing our new 9 and the real estate development. My dad and Uncle Harry made a deal to get the extra land we needed in the early 80s. It took us about 3 years to get everything completed and we expanded in 1990 with another nine holes and hope to be 36 by 2007 or 2008,' noted Ryan, owner of Wolf Creek. "Our growth is probably driven by needing a match up 9 for the south course. When we built the next 9 it didn't match so we will have two distinctive courses to play. Also in this day and age in the golf business if you want to survive you probably have to tie yourself into some kind of real estate. That is way of our world so when that opportunity came to us we went for it.' Wolf Creek will build 132 lots at about 1/3 acre each and they are not very close to the course. The new 9 will go down in the valley and the houses up on the ridge. "In the old days you would build the houses first and golf second. We are golf people so we build the golf first and houses second. The golf is an attraction,' noted Ryan. "The lots are over $120,000 and you must build 1500 square feet. I think most will spend $350 to 400,000 for their house."
Wolf Creek will do about 30,000 rounds this year, leveling off in 2006. It will cost $70 or $84 with a cart plus GST. "In the central market our rate is pretty high with only Black hawk and Northern Bear higher. About 40% of our players come from Edmonton, 30% from Calgary, 10 to 15% from Red Deer and the rest from all over. Most of out traffic travels 60 miles or more,' stated Ryan. "It is a good business and has been good to our family We have exceeded our expectations a long time ago. We built a small little family thing and it got wings after a few years and got some notoriety. We had issues where we are located but that is why we built this style of golf course. It is a niche type of course as it is a whole different look."