Canadian Rockies Golf Course Redesigns 9th Hole
Before closing for the season, Stewart Creek Golf & Curling Club in Alberta’s Canadian Rockies gave the 9th hole a major face lift.
A par-4 since the opening of the course, the newly renovated No. 9 is now a par-3 design – one that the staff believes offers a much more playable and rewarding hole for golfers of all skill levels.
For some insight into the decision and execution, we spoke with Chris Schatzmann, Head Golf Pro at Stewart Creek.
1) Why did the staff at Stewart Creek feel the need to redesign the 9th Hole?
The original par-4 design offered great views from the landing areas and, depending on your lie and angle to the green, a fun approach shot to the hole. There were some reoccurring issues that we felt could be improved. The tee shot did not fit well with the overall flow of the golf course. Most of our guests play the white tees and would hit a short to mid iron off the tee that would land in a very undulating and potentially unfair part of the fairway. We knew we wanted to offer better sightlines and improve the overall experience, and we knew in order to get it right we had to have [original course designer] Gary Browning craft the new design. We also knew that the club selection process from the tee and the severity of the lie on the approach shot was causing a pace of play issue that was often backlogging play on holes 7 through 9.
2) Take us through the construction process.
The very first step is the design phase. Having Gary lead the process ensured the new 9th would fit perfectly into the character we already have at Stewart Creek. As for the construction itself, most time is spent shaping the tee decks, adding new drainage systems, full irrigation and overhauling the cart path to lead right up to the new tee boxes.
3) The new 9th Hole was completed with about two weeks left in the 2014 season. What was the feedback from those who got to play it?
They love how playable it is. Now you can see the entire green from every location on every tee box. We also found that we were able to confirm an anticipated benefit: pace of play should drop. Before, many golfers would accidentally mistake the 18th green for the 9th green. Poor sight lines and limited access to the fairway also made club selection and determining aim points a slow process. The new cart path and par-3 layout will provide guests with a much more efficient flow of traffic.
4) So now that the hole is finished, what’s the best strategy for playing it?
You’re still dealing with an elevated tee box to a downhill green, requiring less club than the yardage might indicate – most likely two clubs less for most players. The teeing areas are fairly sheltered, however, the green is exposed to the prevailing left to right gusts. Play close attention to what the flagstick is doing and aim accordingly. Play your ball to the left edge of the green and let it float to the hole.