Famed Predator Ridge Resort Now Fully Open To Public


VERNON, British Columbia — As the world slowly begins to open up again, in baby steps in many cases, golf courses and resorts have been leading the charge of getting back to normal. One of the most popular such destinations in the Okanagan Valley in B.C. is Predator Ridge, where they have now fully opened their doors, both for golfing and lodging, after a month of catering strictly to their members.

In a write-up for Inside Golf, British Columbia Golf reporter Brad Zeimer quoted Predator’s head man as saying, “We have really taken a cautious and gradual approach,” (to reopening) says general manager Rod Cochrane. “We are part of a community as well as a resort so we have a responsibility to more than just the golfers and resort guests who are here on a given day.

“We are monitoring everything to make sure we are doing the right thing. We are definitely not going to be aggressively advertising and realistically our expectation is going to be local. It is going to be staycations from Kelowna.”

Cochrane acknowledged that could change if the province begins encouraging British Columbians to travel within the province. The Vancouver area is a key market for Predator Ridge as well as Calgary and Edmonton. “We are going to be doing that when it is the right time,” Cochrane said. “In many ways here at Predator Ridge we like to think we are a leader and in this particular case we think the smartest course of action is to be a bit of a follower. We want to make sure we are not seen as pushing it. Our primary goal always is to be a desirable place for people to live. Right now, if we jammed our resort I don’t think that would make anyone feel comfortable about living here or considering to live here. We need people to come here and understand this is a safe environment.”

As of June 1, the resort was offering golf to the general public, as well as rental accommodations in the lodge and the on-site cabins. While those amenities are now in play, the idea of staying close to home and within your own province is still a top priority. However, now that anyone can tee it up at this phenomenal 36-hole layout, let us give you the lay of the land on the two courses, The Predator and The Ridge.

The Predator course is the older layout of the pair but it still has plenty of bite.  Host to the Telus Skins Game in 2008, starring Mike Weir and Fred Couples among others, you know you’re going to get your money’s worth on this track although it has been softened somewhat and changed a bit.

Speaking to this 18-hole gem, Claus Larsen, the Director of Accommodations in September of last year, he noted The Predator 18 is a hybrid links style of play. “It’s still 90 per cent in its original state. It’s still a very tough challenge of golf. A lot of people say this is their favourite; a lot of people say The Ridge is their favourite. So we cater to everybody now.”

On The Predator, one faces rolling, sloping fairways and large greens, highlighted by varying slopes. The two holes that stand out here are both on the back nine, with one staring you down as soon as you make the turn.

The 10th is a par-5 uphill beast of 526-yards and more, which is guarded by a phalanx of bunkers as you approach the green. Come  up short of a rather narrow putting area and you’re faced with an uphill sand shot, where if you’re long, your sphere tumbles down another hill on the far side of the green making for another tricky shot.

The other notable hole one the inward nine is the other par-5, the 14th, which requires a tee shot over a big lake regardless of where you tee it up. Carrying that hazard isn’t overly tough — as long as you don’t try to cut too much of it off. Landing safely though only means another carefully placed shot toward the green below you, that’s again guarded by bunkers and the edge of the lake on the right-hand side of the green.

“The Predator was the original course and was a very tough, but very fair course,” noted Larsen.

The Ridge Course At Predator Ridge Is A Layout That Offers not Only Some Spectacular Downhill Tee Shots, But Also Some Spectacular Views Of Okanagan Lake And The Hills Around Vernon.

Having wrapped 18 up there, you move onto the fun and camera-friendly Ridge course. While it may be deemed a somewhat easier play than its big sister, it can also provide challenges. And, it gave a welcome break to the amount of traffic on the older Predator track.

“It got to a point and time where we got so busy we saw the need for a second course,”  Larson pointed out, leading to the building of the resort-style layout, The Ridge. It’s acclaimed as being more accommodating “to the average golfer.”

“With it’s elevated tee boxes and views of the lake, it’s very, very stunning,” Larsen said of the second 18 that was put in play. “But it also caters to the short golfer so they can all feel good.”

This track is extremely photogenic but it can play long, over 7,000 yards if one desires so it’s no walk in the park. The usual tees for players though measure out around 6,200 yards and with so many downhill tee shots, it actually plays somewhat shorter. The fairways here are large and inviting as are the greens making it a fun, relaxed play no matter what your skill level.

And remember — have your phone or camera battery fully charged when you tee it up here because you’ll be delighted when your scorecard records fewer shots than your device at the end of the day.

Sleeping Over

Anyone going to Vernon from outside the area needs a place to stay, and really, there’s likely no better place to settle in than at Predator Ridge’s fine variety of accommodations. And, they’re available for small to large groups on a short-term or long-term basis.

As the popularity of Predator Ridge Resort has grown over the years, some changes have come into play to handle the volume. Claus Larsen, the Director of Accommodations here noted the area is now busy year-round, so housing visitors became a priority. Interestingly enough, that’s why the changes happened to the two golf courses.

“As the resort developed we saw the need for more accommodation. So, we decided to move hole number one on The Ridge course. We moved that over 140 feet and that also affected three holes on The Predator course. During the winter of 2018-19, we moved 24,000 dump trucks of dirt,” and through the oversight of Canadian architect Doug Carrick, and member input, the new designs were incorporated to great acclaim. And while the golf, and other amenities here are wonderful, he housing options are outstanding whether you’re in the lodge or one of the premier cabins. Short- and long-stay visitors are welcome here, year round.

So, while things are opening up, slowly, and people are advised to stay within their own province when possible, this is a must-stay-and-play for any resident of B.C. who loves golf. And soon, hopefully, it will also welcome visitors from all over.

* With files from Inside Golf and Brad Ziemer (British Columbia Golf)