Canmore: Gateway to Rocky Mountain Golf

Silvertip Golf Course (Image: Silvertip Golf Course)

Les Furber-designed Silvertip Golf Course is one of the most scenic tracks in the Canadian West. (Image: Silvertip Golf Course)

Nestled in the spectacular Bow Valley, the Alberta boomtown of Canmore is the ideal home base for a Rocky Mountain golf vacation.

(Last updated March 2022.)

For years Canmore was one of the best kept secrets in the Rocky Mountains: a town with the same spectacular scenery as nearby Banff, but hipper, friendlier and more affordable.

Located just outside the gates of Banff National Park, 104 kilometres west of Calgary, Canmore is an ideal home base for a mountain golf holiday. But also budget time between rounds for hiking, kayaking, rafting and the other summer activities that annually help draw more than a million overnight visitors to this high-spirited community of 13,000.

Found a short drive east of Canmore, at Kananaskis Country Golf Course, are two acclaimed Robert Trent Jones Sr. courses, Mount Kidd and Mount Lorette. Almost destroyed by floods in 2013, they reopened to national applause in 2018 after being rebuilt under the supervision of Calgary-based architect Gary Browning. (For more about Kananaskis Country Golf Course, see our story Play Canada’s Most Anticipated New Courses.)

Even closer to Canmore, two more of Canada’s most dramatically scenic mountain courses have been carved through the Bow Valley corridor.

At Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club, golfers are treated to a thrill ride of elevation changes on a Gary Browning-designed layout set in the shadow of the Three Sisters, an awe-inspiring three-peak massif.

Silvertip Golf Course, on the opposite side of the corridor, is just as thrilling. Glacial ponds and forest-lined fairways define a design by Canmore-based architect Les Furber that includes stirring cliff-top tee shots.

Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club

Gary Browning-designed Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club. (Image: Stewart Creek)

And right in town is Canmore Golf and Curling Club. This older, classically designed layout offers many of the same mountain golf experiences found at higher-profile Stewart Creek and Silvertip—mountain vistas, forests of towering fir trees, a meandering glacial river—at about half the cost.

But the biggest draw for golfers is the Banff Springs Golf Course, just inside the park’s gates in the alpine town world-renowned for both its beauty and the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

In the valley below the 764-room, castle-like grand hotel, legendary Canadian golf architect Stanley Thompson built the first course anywhere to cost more than a million dollars. Opened in 1929, Thompson’s layout has long been included in virtually every ranking of the game’s leading courses, and its most celebrated hole, the par-three Devil’s Cauldron, numbers among the most photographed in golf.

Visitors often make the mistake of neglecting Canmore in favour of glitzier Banff. But Canmore is equally beguiling in its own unpretentious way. Pubs, coffee shops, boutiques and art galleries line the streets of a town that is said to be home to more Olympic athletes than any other place in the world.

Towering over the community are the magnificent peaks of the Rundle Mountain Range. The fast-rushing Bow River snakes through Canmore’s heart, while a network of wildlife corridors and trails spreads out in every direction.

It’s a setting perhaps unsurpassed in the Canadian West.



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