Last Updated on Sunday, 03 July 2016 19:20 Sunday, 03 July 2016 19:06
KIMBERLEY, British Columbia (Gord Montgomery/iG) — At first glance this assignment seems pretty pale in comparison to some other tests you may have undertaken. After all, the first hole at the Kimberley Golf Club is a par 4 measuring out at only 290 yards from the tips. I mean, how hard can that be?
And then one step further down the scenic fairways, this whole track is compressed into less than 6,300 yards. So basically, it’s a walk in the park, right?
Well, maybe not so much.
This is a case of not letting first impressions fool you. You see, that first hole test is a downhill gem but it leads you into Never-Never Land off the back edge if you muscle up even a bit too much. And after that, trees seem to jump out of nowhere to get in your way, hole after hole after hole.
So a walk in the park, while a good descripion of this wonderful old layout, established in 1924 as a 9-hole challenge, is anything but reality as to its playability. It is a true case of accuracy over length on the opening nine, and for us distance-challenged types that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Then again, if you also tend to wander around on the grassy slopes, well, good luck out here.
Simon Jones, the affable new director of golf at the Kimberley GC, who moved to this mountain paradise from the Fairmont Banff Springs, agreed golf courses don’t need to be long to offer plenty of challenges.
“The front nine is a little more parkland, a little bit tighter,” he said of the original concept. “It is definitely more challenging off the tee.
“Then, the back nine opens up with some great views,” of the river that sits far below and the incredible vistas in the distance. “You have a great view from almost every tee box with the mountains.”
The one thing the new head honcho wants to emphasize to the general public is this: You don’t have to be a member to play here. While that was the original case, it’s not so anymore.
“Historically, with the mine here we were very fortunate to have over 800 members but the membership has gone down,” Jones explained. “We are trying to attract people, let them know that we are available. We are definitely surrounded by a lot of good golf courses, so it’s about how we can we get people to come here and enjoy it here.”
Well, once you’ve played here you are likely to become a walking, talking billboard for this track. It’s fun, it’s pretty and it should be on your must-play list.
What may surprise some people is the talent level that has come out of this historic old gem, again showing big, intimidating holes don’t necessarily always make the best golfers in the country. For example, the No. 1 amateur player in Canada called the Kimberley GC home at one time.
“For a small town it’s a fantastic achievement,” Jones said of local product Jarret du Tois held the No. 1 ranking as the best amateur player in the country for several consecutive weeks. “And we’re very fortunate to have a lot of other young golfers here that are taking inspiration from him.”
One of the ways in which the old course is promoting golf is by bringing those youngsters into the fold. Jones has teed up a great junior program which has already met with overwhelming success in its first year and he’s looking to grow that going forward.
“With our membership declining, one of our avenues to try and grow it is the junior program.”
Of course, the venerable old lady of the golf world in this part of the country is also welcoming everyone, of any age, to come and give it a whirl because the membership is willing to share what they have.
“We’ve got some great members here (who like to share their course knowledge with visitors), some great stories, great legends,” Jones said of the open-arms policy for tee time bookings. “We save tee times every day for the public.”
In closing, Jones said he was delighted to make the move to the Kimberley course from the high profile posting he had in Banff.
“Part of my reason for coming here was this is a beautiful golf course and we are going to open it up more to the public. We just try to keep opening those doors a little more,” so all golfers visiting this area can taste the history of the Kimberley Golf Club by simply taking a walk in the park.
For more information on the Kimberley Golf Club, go to their website at kimberleygolfclub.com or for tee times, give them a call toll free at 1-877-427-4161.
About the Writer
Gord Montgomery is a retired sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He is now in his eighth year of writing for Inside Golf. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s also on Twitter at @gordinsidegolf.