Make Way For Bear at Stewart Creek

Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club, Canmore, Alberta

Wildlife movement corridors are incorporated into the layout of Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club in the Canadian Rockies.  (Image: Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club)

In the second in a series profiling Canada’s greenest courses, we look at how Canmore’s Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club minimizes its impact on the local wildlife.

(Last updated May 2019.)

Few Canadian courses have had their green credentials as rigorously scrutinized as Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club, a high-end Rocky Mountain layout situated in the environmentally sensitive Bow Valley corridor near Canmore, Alberta.

“Our biggest challenge has been to minimize our impact on the grizzlies, wolves, cougars and other wildlife that use this as a migration route,” superintendent Sean Kjemhus says. “I think we’ve won over a lot of critics who were convinced a golf course didn’t belong here.”

Designed by Gary Browning, a Calgary-based architect with a graduate degree in environmental planning, Stewart Creek was considered a model of low-impact design when it opened in 2000. Wildlife movement corridors were incorporated into the layout, as were native grasses to provide forage for migrating animals.

As many as nine holes are closed whenever a bear is on site, both for the protection of golfers and to prevent the animal from becoming desensitized to human contact. Elk are also given a wide berth, particularly during the autumn rut.

But the views at Stewart Creek are awe-inspiring even from an environmentally approved safe distance.

“I remember a group of golfers from Texas staring wide-eyed as a bear kept comically slapping a flagstick on one of our greens,” Kjemhus says. “They said it was the highlight of their trip to Canada.”