River Stone GC Offers A Unique Layout, Method Of Arrival
- Category: Inside Golf
- Published: 2017-08-30
The Sixth Hole At The River Stone GC Isn't A Long One, But It Is A Memorable One As The Par 3 Of Only 100 Yards Has An Elevation Change From Tee To Green Of About 100 Feet.
TEEPEE CREEK, Alberta (Gord Montgomery/iG) — While every golf course is easily accessible by land there’s one in northern Alberta that’s just as easy to reach by water.
Yes, you can actually drive a boat up to the lower levels of the fun 9-hole playpen known as River Stone Golf Course. Once you hit the ground, a golf cart from the clubhouse hundreds of feet above you awaits to whisk your party up the hill to the first tee.
Unique? Yes. Fun? Even more so.
Braden Rycroft, the owner of the rural property located above the Smoky River and about 45 minutes northeast of Grande Prairie, said a number of golfers use the liquid highway to access his course, completed in 2011. This was the last course designed by architect Herman Olyean, on top of a reclaimed gravel pit, and he did a great job of putting the natural terrain to work as he sculpted the 3,100 yard track.
What’s featured here, besides that cool way to arrive, are the elevation changes throughout. Those are most noticeable when you head into the home stretch of holes starting on No. 6.
While it’s only a par 3, what a par 3 it is. Sitting high above the green, the tee box overlooks a beautiful river valley scene in the distance. The green is large and only 120 yards, or less away, but it’s a daunting shot as it’s surrounded by fescue rough and trees.
Make no mistake here, this is definitely one of those holes where it doesn’t matter if you make birdie, bogey or worse, it’s one you remember.
Team that assignment up with Holes 7 and 9, and you have a backstretch that will stick in your mind for a long time along with those ‘would’a, should’a, could’a’ thoughts.
The seventh is a 510-yard test that calls for an accurate drive from a somewhat elevated tee with trees lining both sides of the fairway. Things tend to run left to right here and because of that there is a large protective bunker on the bottom righthand side. The second shot is also somewhat downhill but with an awkward lie possible after your drive, it can be tough to reach the putting surface and have hopes of making birdie.
The eighth is no walkover by any stretch either. A par 4 of 390 yards with a blind second shot to a green that is situated well below the top side of the fairway this is a tricky test. As well, there’s a huge waste area in the middle of the fairway that comes into play from the tee box.
Then there’s the final hole, which could well be the longest hole on any 9-hole course in the province and maybe the country. The owner won’t go as far as to say that, but if this isn’t the longest it’s certainly in the running for the title.
There’s nothing tricky about the hole other than the length. From the back tees it plays to 658 yards. Even moving up a tee or two doesn’t diminish distance a whole lot as the yardages drop to only 630 and 605.
The fairway is relatively wide here but if you stray too far left with your opening salvo, you’ll find thick rough that most definitely makes for a long third shot if one hopes for a two-putt par on this massive closer.
There are two things to note about River Stone: One is that while there aren’t any sand bunkers in play here, there is a solid alternative to that issue. The areas that are cut out for the hazards are grass-filled at present, and perhaps if that grass was allowed to grow a bit more they could well present even more of a problem than their sandy cousins would for the average golfer. The second thing is that the opening five holes are fun, and not overly long, especially off the middle and front tees, so if you’re going to write some small numbers on your scorecard you best do it there.
What’s most remarkable about this rural course though is that the whole thing is memorable. The second hole, another par 3 is another sight to behold. Again, it’s not long, playing to 105 yards off the back tees but it’s a shot where you need to hit the ball solidly and straight. If your swing is off even a bit, a huge cavern of trees and other assorted nasties are there to swallow up your mistake in a heartbeat.
And speaking of heartbeats, yours will certainly elevate when you see the challenges put forth by Rycroft and his team at River Stone, at what is certainly not only a unique golf course but a course that gives you a unique way to arrive.
For more information on River Stone Golf Course, go to their website at riverstonegolfcourse.com or call them at 780-568-2860.
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