A parklands course sitting on over 400 acres of forested property, River Bend sits on land owned by the municipality but is operated by the River Bend Golf & Recreation Society.
In addition to the 18 hole championship golf course and the practice amenities that go with it (range, practice green, chipping area), the property also features a 9 hole pitch and putt, an outdoor water park called Discovery Canyon, 9km of hiking trails, and 15km of cross country/biathlon trails in the winter, along with a biathlon range.
The course itself plays as a par 72 between 5484 and 6769 yards. While the course is rated, it is not a member of Golf Alberta / Golf Canada and therefore its rating is not valid and you can’t submit any scores from here for handicap purposes.
River Bend is pretty conveniently located on the outskirts of the city of Red Deer (it might actually be within city limits), but its address does not show up in google maps, so getting there can be a challenge if you don’t know where you are going. Added to the lack of good google map directions was the fact that the road network around the course was under construction when we were there, which complicated the matter.
For the record, from downtown you wan to take 50th or 32nd street (depending where you are) east to 30th and you take 30th north. Eventually 30th will turn into highway 11, but after a few kms highway 11 will turn left, and you turn right to stay on 30th, from there you go through a round about and keep heading north. Entrance to River Bend will be on left.
Really easy once you know where you are going and shouldn’t take you any longer than 15min from downtown.
The clubhouse was modern, but not overly large. It featured a good sized, well stocked pro shop (mainly Nike product), a restaurant and a banquet room that could be sectioned off into smaller rooms. While they have a full kitchen, the presentation of the restaurant is very informal, looking more like a snack area with concession than a full functioning restaurant.
One of the really neat things about River Bend is the use of water. The same body of water (a central pond/lake) comes into play on at least 7 holes, while other bodies of water come into play on multiple holes as well. All in all, there are more holes with water hazards than without.
I really enjoyed the layout of the course, not only the use of water, but the shaping of the holes and the general flow of the course from one hole to the next seemed to come together really well.
The course conditions were very good, especially for a mid priced public course early in the season. Things weren’t as lush as you would find at a higher end course, but I would say they matched the price point of River Bend very well.
Many of the holes that hugged the water were fairly wide open, allowing you to grip it and rip it as long as you avoided the water, but there were a few holes in more forested areas that demanded more target golf. Overall, I wouldn’t say River Bend was a difficult course, but courses management was important given all the water in your way.
As it was early in the season there was still some early season course work going on. One area that staff seemed to be in the middle of attending to were the bunkers. As such, several bunkers were more or less Ground Under Repair, while others were quite nice.
The only disappointment from the round, although understandable, was the fact they had just punched the greens, either earlier that day or the day before. As a result the greens were pretty sandy and bumpy. I have seen better jobs of smoothing out the greens after an aeration.
I am not sure if I would say River Bend had a signature hole. But my favorite hole was the understated 18th. With no water in play, it didn’t fit the mold of the course, but the long par 4 with a slight dogleg right and a green tucked into the side of a hill was a very well laid out golf hole and a great finishing hole, requiring two solid shots for a birdie chance.
The course featured a range, chipping green and a large putting green. The putting green was the only warm up I got. It was big and offered a lot of different putts, which was good.
Bits and Bites
- For my second round of the year I played pretty good. I hit the ball real solid, but couldn’t make any putts, the bumpy greens didn’t help. I shot 80.
- River Bend will be a host venue for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, it will host Cross Country Ski and Biathlon.
See you at the turn,