Planning a round of golf or two on your next road trip to the West Kootenays? With our lush inland temperate rainforests, expansive lakes and rivers and towering mountains, it’s tempting to be distracted by our dramatic landscapes. But our challenging courses demand attention. To help give you an advantage, and some insights into the fairways and greens, we’ve compiled a list of pro tips from some of our local courses.

Riondel 9 Hole Golf Course

This 60 year old golf course just north of the Kootenay Bay ferry landing may be small but has some big challenges. With small greens you will have to sharpen your short game skills. Here’s what to do: bring along those wedges that have been sitting in your garage because the greens are tight and elevated. This is an opportunity to practice that necessary flop shot. A flop shot is a high, soft shot that lands and stops quickly once it hits the green. Make a full swing, keeping the lower body quiet and letting your arms and hands do most of the work.

You will also encounter a variety of lies because of the mountain terrain. Here’s what to do: take more club (a club that has less loft) if you’re on an uphill lie because the ball tends to fly higher. Use less club (a club that has more loft) from a downhill lie because the ball has a lower trajectory.

Castlegar Golf Course

Perched on a scenic bench overlooking Castlegar and the surrounding valley, this championship course provides a top notch experience at a great value. With a fully stocked pro shop, driving range, practice greens and an acclaimed restaurant and patio, it’s a bucket list on a Kootenay road trip.

Hole Two is the course’s signature hole, offering great risk and great reward. The longer hitters can hit a driver part of the way down the hill and make it a reachable par five, but a difficult, downhill, side-hill second shot awaits. The smart play is a safe tee shot to the top of the hill, another shot about 150 yards and then a short iron in. But who plays golf to be safe?

Hole Nine is the hardest par four on the golf course from the back tees – or maybe any tee box. A well placed shot just left of the trees on the right side of the fairway can leave a long second shot to a very difficult green to putt on. Try to leave yourself an uphill putt as downhill putts are famous for rolling right off the green. A bogey here can feel like a par.

Bonus tip: visit the course website for a Fly Over of each hole to help you prepare (and stoke your anticipation).

Kokanee Springs Resort

Sprawled over 500 acres of lush forest near Kootenay Lake, this course is one of Canada’s most spectacular golf courses. Kokanee Springs Resort is a unique golfing oasis, combining on-site amenities with breathtaking views of the Selkirk and Purcell mountains, and meticulously manicured holes. Located in quiet Crawford Bay, the resort invites guests to stay and play, with over 50 guest rooms and villas and a comfortable club house restaurant and patio.

Some advice: On the course, golfers are advised to focus your efforts on accurate and controlled tee shots. A well placed drive is key to set up easier approaches to the multi-tiered greens. Club selection on approach shots is crucial, with greens ranging from 28 to 55 yards in depth. Choosing the right club will ensure you thrive on Kokanee’s well guarded greens.

Balfour Golf Course

The Les Furber designed course overlooking the main body of Kootenay Lake is a showstopper. Challenging yet playable holes compete with expansive views and expertly maintained grounds for a winning combination. The 18 hole, 6,800 yard course offers a premium golfing experience at an affordable rate.

Hole Seventeen is Balfour’s signature hole. It demands golfers to be focused on a tee shot that favours the right hand side to avoid the hazard that sneaks in left and to leave the best angle for your second shot.  A second shot lay up that covers the infamous Furber Gully will leave you with a clear view of the hole position and a straightforward approach to the green.  Those who challenge the green with their second shot need to be aware of the near unavoidable hazard left of the green.  Once you’ve found your way to the green and have soaked in the most breathtaking views found on our golf course, putting is fairly straightforward to a front or middle pin.  A back blue flag ups the challenge of putting on our signature hole with another, slightly smaller, Furber Gully to contend with.

Whichever course(s) you play, you’re sure to find an unbeatable combination of value, challenge, and scenic surroundings that combine to create an unforgettable golfing experience.