Sunday, March 13, 2011

Predator Ridge - The Ridge Course

Predator Ridge Resort - The Ridge Course
Vernon, British Columbia, CANADA


7123 YARDS (PAR 72)
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: 73.8/133
COURSE ARCHITECT: Doug Carrick (2010)
ACCESSIBILITY: Resort
COURSE WEBSITE: http://predatorridge.com/
ROUNDS PLAYED: 1
LAST PLAYED: July 26, 2010.
LOW SCORE: 74 (+2)

ACCOLADES -
- Golfweek Best Canadian Modern Courses 2015: #28
- ScoreGolf Top 100 in Canada 2014: #25
- ScoreGolf Top 59 Public Courses in Canada 2015: #8
- Canadian Golf Magazine Top 100 in Canada 2015: #33


The final stop on our 2010 golf trip to British Columbia was the Predator Ridge Resort in Vernon, just outside of Kelowna.

We arrived at the club well past midnight, grabbed our keys and drove out to the Peregrine Cottage that was assigned to us.

The accommodations were unbelievably spacious and comfortable and our only regret is that we didn't get any time at all to enjoy them, as we quickly hit the sack in preparation for our early morning tee time.

We were going to be playing the brand new Ridge Course at Predator Ridge and it was a bit of a coup, as the course wasn't officially going to be open to the public for about another week.

Doug Carrick and his team are behind the $10 million Ridge Course, which features eight completely redesigned holes from the old Peregrine course and ten brand new ones. The terrain is absolutely spectacular, with holes climbing up and down the mountainside, rock outcroppings galore and beautiful vistas of surrounding mountains and lakes always a constant.

Being our last round of the week and one that we needed to get done in a timely fashion in order to catch a mid-day flight, we decided to play the 6655 yard Blue Tees as opposed to the Blacks.

The course doesn't feature a "figure 8" routing, instead starting and finishing near the clubhouse on very open land in an "out and back" style. The first hole plays on this links-style land but a very long cart ride awaits in order to get to the second tee and right away you can see the character of the course change, as you move into more of a parkland setting, albeit on a mountainside with rock outcroppings at almost every turn.

The downhill par four second is a beauty and the two-shot third takes you right back uphill. The dogleg right par four 4th is another strong hole, as you get your first glimpse of the lake well down below.

The 244 yard par three 5th is just a gorgeous piece of business, falling straight downhill the whole way with the mountains and lake providing a memorable backdrop. Things get even more interesting on the 438 yard par four 6th, as a very large and intimidating rock outcropping obscures the landing area from the tee, making first-time play quite a challenge! I think we sat on that tee for at least a minute before figuring out our line! What a golf hole!

You continue your descent on the par five 7th, a lovely dogleg left that starts to climb from the landing area all the way to the green.

From there, you must deal with a tough 229 yard par three before concluding the outgoing nine on the visually stunning par five 9th, a reachable 509 yarder that features rock outcroppings on both sides of the hole. My attempt at reaching the green in two ended up hitting the rocks on the right and bouncing back over to the left, just in front of the green, where I'd make my first birdie of the day.

You begin to climb back up the hillside on the par four 10th, which again features an outcropping that comes into play just left of the green. The 11th is a lengthy par five that climbs the entire way uphill and features a narrow entry into a well-protected greensite.

The 12th is a picturesque mid-length par three measuring 171 yards with a large and undulating putting surface and the 13th is the last par five on the course, a lengthy 562 yarder with a bit of a halfpipe-styled fairway that runs between the outcroppings.

The 14th requires a precise touch both from the tee and green. Not long at only 396 from the tips, the tee shot plays downhill but the second shot is uphill to a partially blind green site, especially if you lay back too far, with a large outcropping on the left side always on your mind on the approach.

The 15th is the last one-shotter on the course, a little 165 yarder with water fronting the left side of the green and an outcropping in the back right that causes trouble for any players that decide to bail out.

The 16th is a bit of an awkward hole, a 336 yard par four that tumbles down hill with a greensite hidden behind the treeline and a water hazard on the left. A definite "position-first" hole.

The course moves back to open, links-style land for the last two holes and both are absolute brutes. The 17th is a 472 yard par four monster, featuring a diagonal carry across a water hazard with bunkers through the fairway on the right. This hole was very notable for yours truly - to this point, I had hit every single green in regulation. That's right - I was 16 for 16 and I never had hit all 18 greens in one round in my entire life. Well, that streak would continue, as I drove into the fairway bunker and with approximately 200 yards left, I proceeded to hit the lip on the bunker shot and barely escape the sand. It didn't take long for the smile to return to my face though, as I would hit my next shot to within ten feet and make the putt for the extremely satisfying par!

The 18th goes back the other way toward the clubhouse and the second shot is a doozy, uphill, over a little creek to a very elevated and expansive putting surface. I'd three-putt here, my fourth of the day and shoot a strange 74 (+2) despite 17 greens in regulation.

Almost all of the Doug Carrick courses I've played share similar characteristics and The Ridge Course is no different. You'll find plenty of elevated tee shots throughout the round, wide playing corridors, more than a fair share of uphill approaches and large and conservatively contoured putting surfaces. He designs fun golf courses and The Ridge definitely qualifies.

As usual with Carrick, the architecture is strong and he's done a very good job using the land given to him. The routing is a bit awkward in spots but I'd be hard-pressed to offer an opinion on what he could have done to make it better. The course is very playable for players of all levels and it's certainly a heck of a lot of fun.

The golf course was pretty much brand new when we played and I must say that I was extremely impressed with the overall conditioning. You can tell that the resort didn't rush people onto this course, instead letting it grow in and settle before having some play. The turf was nice and firm through the greens and the bunker edges didn't have that brittle look that you sometimes get with newly-designed courses. Bravo!

And I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the views, which certainly rank up there with the best our country has to offer. Simply stunning!

Unfortunately, the course really isn't walkable, with a couple significant green-to-tee transfers and a lot of downhill/uphill climbs throughout the round but I don't want that to deter any ardent walkers from experiencing this fine track.

My only personal regret was playing the Blue tees instead of the back deck. At just over 6600 yards and playing much less than that distance due to the elevation, I only used my driver on two or three par fours so I feel I would have gotten a stronger test from the tips. That's something I'll rectify in my next trip out west!

Predator Ridge's new Ridge Course recently took home the ScoreGolf award for Best New Canadian Course in 2010 and I will predict right now that the course will find a place somewhere comfortably inside the top 50 when the magazine comes out with their next country-wide rankings in 2012. It's a must-play for any visitors to the Okanagan region in British Columbia and I won't be surprised if it quickly becomes more popular than the original course at Predator Ridge. I look forward to returning, hopefully sooner rather than later!

The Peregrine Cottages at Predator Ridge




2nd Tee

2nd Hole Approach

Looking back from behind 2nd Green

3rd Tee

Approach shot on the 3rd

4th Tee

Approach shot on the 4th

The lovely 'drop shot' par three 5th

Cal having second thoughts about leaving Canada for Israel

Steve and Ryan check out the beautiful view

The captivating 6th hole

Approach on the 6th

Looking back toward the ominous outcropping on the 6th

The beautiful 7th hole

Second shot into the 7th

The par three 8th hole

The 9th Tee

Approach shot on the 9th

Looking back down the 9th fairway from behind

The 10th tee

Approach shot into the elevated 10th green

The 11th Tee

Approach shot into the par five 11th 

Looking back down the 11th fairway from behind the green

The short 12th hole

The 13th tee

Approach shot into the 13th

The 14th Tee

Tough approach into the 14th

The par three 15th

Tee shot on the downhill 16th

Little pitch approach into the 16th

The 18th tee

An uphill approach into the elevated 18th green


2 comments:

  1. Hi Matt! This is an amazing post! The photos are gorgeous! What are you shooting with?

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  2. Thanks for the comment Annette,

    I'm using a Nikon D90, a great DSLR and have a the stock lens along with a zoom lens.

    ReplyDelete