COLUMN: Golden times at Silvertip Resort 0
This past week I had meetings in Canmore at the Silvertip Golf Resort. I took advantage of the situation to speak with Head Golf Professional Travis Mann and Golf Sales Manager Rhett Bokitch about the facility and then loaded my clubs onto a cart and played the course.
Travis has been Silvertip's head golf professional since July 2010. A native of Nelson B.C., he spent four years as the head pro and two years as general manager at the semi-private Granite Pointe Golf Club before moving to Canmore. Rhett - a CPGA golf professional - is a native of Saskatchewan and has worked at such notable resorts as Tobiano and Talking Rock in the B.C. Interior.
Silvertip opened its doors in 1998 as an 18-hole championship course designed by Les Furber - a resident of Canmore. Since it's opening, Silvertip has undergone some significant changes. Travis explains that people still remember playing the course when the clubhouse was still a tent. Nowadays, the clubhouse is more than 11,000 square feet and a timber-frame structure that houses meeting rooms, a large banquet facility, two dining areas, a pro-shop and is connected to an amazing patio with great views of the closing hole.
Both ownership and management have fully endorsed an extensive program to ensure the golf course is playable for every golfer on every day. The improvements undertaken to ensure this included: managing the fescue grasses that frame holes with the thought process being to make it more a feature than a hazard; adjusting mowing heights - widening the fairways and making the rough less penal; better management of tee block and pin locations - in some cases new tees have been built and green complexes modified; and the removal of some trees and bunkers - providing less obstacles to contend with in your round.
The changes are designed to increase enjoyment, speed-up play and ultimately lower golfer's scores. Travis commented, "We are hearing great comments on the changes and it has made the course a more enjoyable experience for golfers."
I don't think any golfer will disagree with improving these three metrics especially the last one!
In addition to the modifications, Robin Sadler and his turf team have taken great pride in the conditions of the course. Travis smiled - and I thought had a slight chest push out - when he proudly exclaimed, "The course has been consistently in great shape the past few years."
I can confirm from playing the course that it was in great condition - at least on the holes I decided to play in the fairway and not in the trees.
Talk is cheap, so I was glad to be at the facility to see if what I heard was real or simply a marketing pitch.
My first impression of the Clubhouse was how clean and new it felt. The staff was all pleasant and easy to talk with. I had lunch on the patio and was tempted by many selections, including a Ciabata chicken sandwich, but settled for the fish tacos that did not disappoint. The soup of the day was very tasty as was the summer salad as my accompaniment - and I will add the sweet potato fries that just happened to be on the plate of one of my playing partners sitting next to me were also good dipped in the chipotle mayo.
I noticed a wedding happening during the day! Everyone seemed happy, the set up outside for the ceremony was great as were the people from the wedding watching us finish the 18th hole and acknowledging our play - we even found a golf ball during our round for a wedding happening that very day!
When I took to the course I was excited to have the chance to hit balls before hand on a grass tee deck. Given the mountain conditions and size of space needed to run a grass tee on your range, most mountain courses don't have grass warm up tees. It was nice that Silvertip have found a way to accommodate using grass tees for warm-up prior to your game.
We talked to the starter before teeing off and she was knowledgeable and helpful in guiding us down the first hole. She properly held us to ensure the group ahead had created a gap so play would move smoothly and she gently convinced me to put down my driver and settle for a 5-iron to put my tee shot in position for approaching the green.
The pace of play was excellent and the GPS provided yardage and guidance in moving around the course, so we were never lost or without accurate information to make an informed choice for our golf shot. At first, I thought the greens a bit slow for my liking, but as I found myself on the high side of some pin positions I quickly learned the undulations on the greens meant putts were quick going downhill. Naturally, you can't have the greens cut too low or people would struggle with downhill putts increasing scores, pace of play and reducing enjoyment - all counter to what the course was trying to achieve.
I found the tee selections available provided a wide variety of different challenges for golfers and a different risk/reward equation. I would have no problem choosing from five sets of tees and each would provide me a different experience and challenge for the course that I would enjoy.
The greens rolled true. There is nothing I like more than knowing when I watch a putt leave the putter face that if it is tracking towards the hole it will eventually end up in the hole - no bounces left or right or 'shimme's' as the ball glides to the hole. The fairways provided ample space for me to play my tee shots into them and they were cut to a height I could spin the ball easily. The rough slowed balls from going into the trees but was not too thick that it cost me strokes for being there.
Like all the courses in the area, the views were spectacular. There were a number of vantage points, once we cleared the first four holes, to view the mountain ranges and features on the opposite side of the valley. We could clearly see the Three Sisters mountain range, Rundle Mountain, the Nordic Centre, the different housing developments and downtown.
After our round, we were pleasantly greeted and while we carried out a conversation our clubs were cleaned and we were wished a great rest of the day.
While I did not do any shopping - too many golf clothes as it is - I did tour around the golf retail shop with Travis. The set-up and merchandising was excellent and the selection of brands had broad appeal. The counter area was clean and neat (a pet peeve of mine) and the staff pleasant.
I liked that when you enter the clubhouse the pro-shop is well positioned to be seen and frequented - the washrooms are even positioned across the hall so you always find yourself taking a peak on your way in and out of the bathrooms.
To Travis and Rhett - a pleasure to play the course and I enjoyed my time spent on the patio taking in the view, golf and great food. I hope it won't be too long before I am back and I will definitely leave time to have some food on the patio before and after my game!
CHIP SHOTS: Kelly Smith of the Canmore Golf & Curling Club recorded her first ever hole-in-one at the Golden Golf Club Ladies Open last week on the 13th hole - congratulations.
Steve Young is the director of golf at the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course. Do you have an interesting fact or results from an event that occurred at your facility or from golfers in the area at events around the province? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be more than pleased to share these in our Chip Shots.