Last Updated on Saturday, 19 May 2012 15:03
Saturday, 19 May 2012 14:32
by Gord Montgomery
Perception in golf is a strange thing. Take for instance the original thoughts on hybrid clubs only being beneficial for women, that “real men” didn’t use them.
Or how about the belly putter? You know, those unwieldy sticks that only those with a bad case of the yips, or a bad back, used.
Those kinds of thoughts, it seems, can also creep into a player’s mind about the location of a golf course, no matter its reputation, as evidenced by the feelings of some toward Cougar Creek Golf Resort, just west of Edmonton.
For some reason many feel it’s just too far removed from the metropolitan area to make the journey to this great course worth the drive.
Well, think again.
Head pro Ryan Doucette notes the travel time to his layout isn’t all that much different than going from one end of the city to the other to play a course there, especially given the road improvements over the past while around Edmonton.
Located on Hwy. 16 West, a major four-lane roadway, Cougar Creek isn’t out of reach of anyone anymore, he noted, either in travel time or the green fees.
“One way we battle that (misconception) is with our rates. We’re probably still $10 to $15 cheaper than some of the courses around Edmonton – the Red Tail Landing’s, the Northern Bear’s, and so on.
I feel we offer that same service level, the same quality golf course, but because we’re a little farther from town we do have to make sure our rates dictate that because we know people have to drive out here,” the new head pro explained.
The thing is, Doucette continued, with the Anthony Henday extension completed in Edmonton, access to his facility has become much easier and yes, much quicker than ever before.
“It’s easier to get out here; last year was a nightmare,” but now getting to this track, even from the south side of Edmonton, isn’t a chore, taking about 45-minutes at most, at reasonable speeds.
The thing is, once you arrive at Cougar Creek, as those of us who play here as often as possible can attest, you’re in for a treat.
It offers two very different styles of course – a front nine that’s encapsulated by trees and water and a back that’s wide open, but long and if the wind’s up it plays even longer than it looks.
“This is a difficult golf course right out of the chute, with our first hole maybe being one of the most difficult holes in the city,” Doucette stated, so getting started on the right tee box – there are four here – is key to having fun.
And trust us, this is a fun course with lots of challenges no matter how close to the green you start from. “The front is very narrow, a little shorter than the back nine.
The front nine is going to be your target golf. You don’t have to hit it a long way but you have to keep the ball in play and if you do, you’ll have your chances to make birdies and pars or bogeys, whatever your ability is,” the pro said.
“When you get too aggressive on the front is when it really jumps up and bites you.”
As for the back, well, that’s where you can let the big dog out of the bag and go at it…of course you still have to stay in control as this isn’t a sprayer’s paradise given the trees, the OB, and the water that lay in wait.
The changeover can play tricks with one’s mind but there is a way to stay on top of things, Doucette says, and that’s by paying attention to distances.
“There are certain holes where you can be aggressive, but this is a course where on a par 4 you don’t necessarily have to pull driver. I try to play holes from 150-yards in, where at worst you make a bogey.
“This is a golf course where you have to think. You’re going to use every club in your bag. Some courses make that claim, but I think it’s 100 per cent true out here. Every hole is different and that, I think, is what people like.”
What folks also like out here, in the country, is the fact there are no houses on the course; the noise is minimal save for the occasional vehicle on the highway on the back nine, and of course, the service provided by the staff.
photo credit gord montgomery
The 16th Hole At Cougar Creek Is The One Head Pro Ryan Doucette Feels Is The Toughest And It Can Play That Way Given The Water All The Way Down The Left Side, The Narrowness Of The Fairway And Its Contours, and The Large Green
Doucette points out that on weekends there’s a shuttle service from the parking lot to the course’s great staging area; the friendliness of the starter staff and the pro shop people; and the food and beverage segment all make his track stand out.
“We try to be as approachable as possible. We allow denim, tee shirts, we’re casual. We are a resort golf course. We’re not pretentious and when you book a tee time here you’re probably talking to a golf pro or an apprentice…someone who’s very knowledgeable about golf and we always have a professional on (duty).”
In closing, Doucette said the bar has been set high in the past at Cougar by former head pro Jeff Cuthbertson, whom he worked under for two seasons, and as such he has no plans on letting that standard slip.
“We really know what our market is and we try and provide the service that’s needed to make us one of the industry’s leaders.”
So, forget about the drive (except of course when you step onto the tee box) to get to Cougar Creek Golf Resort and make plans to head west because you’re going to discover that the time it takes to get here is more than paid back by what you get when you arrive.
For tee times, call the Cougar Creek Golf Resort pro shop at 780-892-4545 for bookings five days in advance. Their website is at www.cougarcreekgolf.com
About the writer: Gord Montgomery is the sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He has written for Inside Golf for the past four years with the majority of his coverage in north and central Alberta.
He can be reached at
. He’s also on Twitter @#iGgolfwriter.
By Gord Montgomery
About the writer: Gord Montgomery is the sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He has written for Inside Golf for the past four years with the majority of his coverage in north and central Alberta. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More articles by Gord Montgomery