I tee’d it up at the old course in May, no not that old course, but a pretty fantastic old course at Wolf Creek in Ponoka, Alberta. Otherwise known as the middle of nowhere somewhere between Calgary and Edmonton along highway 2.
Wolf Creek had been on my radar for a couple of years and with a work trip scheduled to Red Deer this past May the time was ripe to knock it off my list.
I was actually a little nervous to play the course after a few days in Red Deer where multiple people told me it “wasn’t really that good” or that “conditions had really gone donwhill the past couple of years.” Having now played the course, I have to say those people were crazy, because Wolf Creek was freak’n incredible.
You might have heard of a fellow named Rod Whitman, a couple of years back he designed a little course called Cabot Links out in Nova Scotia. Well, back in 1984 Rob’s first design work was on Wolf Creek and he did a masterful job.
There is nothing pretty about Wolf Creek. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but the land, and subsequently the course, is rugged. The course sits on the land, rather than the land having been shaped for the course. There are no majestic tree lined fairways, but rather fescue and bunker lined burnt out fairways. The par 70 inland links plays between 5691 and 6624 yards, sometimes feeling short, other times no so much.
All joking aside, while it is in the middle of nowhere, it is also conveniently located along highway 2 ( QEII highway), about 25 minutes north of Red Deer. If coming from out of Province, flying into Edmonton is likely your best bet. It is about an hour south of Edmonton.
Wolf Creek really nailed the rustic look with the log cabin club house. I didn’t do much exploring, but it has a well stocked proshop on the ground floor, along with a banquet hall. The upper level features the restaurant/bar where had a lunch there post round. The menu had a pretty solid selection of pub fare that one would expect at a golf course. I went with the Caesar wrap, which was excellent.
There is a lot of good squeezed into a pretty tight space at Wolf Creek. There are a number of holes where tees are not that far beyond greens, especially number one, where an approach shot a mere 5 yards long puts you on the second tee.
One of the great things about Wolf Creek is that it isn’t just one thing. While it’s clearly an inland links course, it does feature narrowed tree lined holes. While it mainly relies on bunkers and mother nature (wind) for protection from low scores, it does feature a a green with water on three of its four sides. Its a inland links course, with a twist.
The course was in great shape, but is not lush by any stretch of the imagination. Everything was greenish, but also brownish, I am sure by design. The browning of the course fits nicely with the facility being marketed as a links style course.
The greens had been punched within a half week of us playing. While you could still tell they had been aerated, they rolled really smooth. They weren’t overly fast, but that was likely a result of the aeration.
From right around 6,000 yards I wouldn’t say Wolf Creek is hard. But, I played it on a day with little to no wind and didn’t play it from the tips. What I will say is that given its a par 70 with two par 3s and one par 5 on each nine, there aren’t a lot of scoring opportunities, unless you take advantage of the par 4s.
While Wolf Creek did have a range and putting green, there were a pretty tight fit between 1st and 10th tees and the 18th green. On the other hand, they were convenient to get to right out front of the clubhouse.
Bits and Bites
- I had a really nice round with a 4 over 74. This included an even par back 9.
- Wolf Creek offers on site accommodations as well as camping. I didn’t see either of these on my visit.
- Wolf Creek is another notch in my belt for courses listed in the 2014 ScoreGolf Top 100. The old course came in at number 30. That brings my number to 9 courses played off top 100 list.
See you at the turn,