Bighorn G&CC Offers Up A Taste Of Desert Golf & The Occasional Spectator

By Gord Montgomery, Senior Writer, Inside Golf

When you arrange a round at the Bighorn Golf & Country Club in Kamloops, your foursome may well be joined up by a fifth — or even a sixth — comrade. Not that they’ll be swinging the sticks too, but all the same, they’ll be there watching the action.

Those ‘guys’ aside (and we’ll get back to them in a while), the golf here is a taste and test of desert-style play, something not often seen in Canada. The club’s General Manager Ian Henson explained his track’s location this way: “We’re on the bench land below Mount Paul and Mount Peter and not too far from downtown. Kamloops is actually on the tip of a desert. The majority of the land, if you’re climbing in the hills, it’s a lot of sagebrush, that sort of thing. It is a desert climate.”

When this layout first opened under a different name, it was recognized as the Best New Course in Western Canada and forged a tie with an Eastern layout (Taboo) as the Best New Course in Canada showing it is indeed a great place to tee it up.

“It’s a beautiful property on the bench land with fantastic greens. Lots of different undulations,” explained Henson. “It’s one of the best, certainly the best, golf experiences in this area pre- and post-round that turns a round of golf into a beautiful day.”

For the most part, the only awkward lies one will find on the fairways here are uphill and downhill. Since the course sits on a flat part of the terrain, there aren’t any swales on the short grass, meaning those tough and sometimes treacherous sidehill shots are next to none. That, of course, comes with a caveat — you need to be accurate with your shots and hit fairways. “There are sidehill lies if you miss the fairways,” Henson clarified, adding there is some relief if you miss the correct side of the landing areas.

“On the side closer to the hillside, there will be a slope that will bounce the ball back into play. On the side that’s away from the hillside, you don’t want to hit it there, as it will bounce away from the hole. The holes usually run along the bench land itself so it may go up or down a bit with lots of little ravines and undulations everywhere. So yeah, there’s lots of terrain change. The property itself winds up and down the hillside.”

There are a wide variety of tee boxes here with the longest yardage being 6,800 yards and winding down to 4,900 with a few combo tees added in. To get you geared up to take on the challenges here, the course offers two putting greens with a third one being added in, as well as a practice bunker. While there is no driving range, there are hitting nets to loosen up your swing.

One of the big things with Bighorn G&CC is the proximity to the city, sitting only minutes away from the downtown area meaning you get to spend more time driving balls around this course than driving to the course.

About those ‘extras’ that may join up with your group, Bighorn sheep tend to wander down from the hills to check out the action and, as it turns out, maybe have a drink or two alongside you.

“It depends on the time of the year,” Henson said of those drop-ins. “The big males are around in the fall. In the September area, you see them a lot. They wander around which always brings up conversation. It’s kind of a unique selling feature as you don’t get to see that at a lot of places. They’re generally looking for water sources, to drink at sprinkler heads,” which means you don’t even have to foot the bill for what they knock back.

All in all, Bighorn Golf & Country Club offers you the chance to take on a style of golf not often seen in Canada, as dunes make for interesting topography and a desert-area climate both add to your day’s enjoyment. Then there are the desert-dwellers liable to join you at any time.