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Heritage Pointe Golf Course: Prairie Golf At Its Finest

Andrew PennerBy Andrew Penner,

Thousands of years ago, Pine Creek etched its way atop the prairies of southern Alberta. It flowed peacefully through grassy knolls and stands of cottonwoods in the sandy soil of the Bow River corridor. After years of spring runoff, which faithfully gathered in the Pine Creek, a beautiful valley was formed. This valley would become the home for deer, birds, prairie flowers, pines and cottonwoods, and the local grasses would provide the carpet for this habitat. Then in 1992, keeping this environment intact, the Heritage Pointe Golf Course was also given life within this valley.

When the 27 hole Heritage Pointe project was completed, architect Ron Garl proudly stated, "This is the finest work I have ever created." Mr. Garl is the author of many golf courses worldwide, so the folks at Heritage Pointe should count their blessings - and they do.

The Heritage Pointe Golf Course is a wonderful golf experience located on the outskirts of Calgary, Alberta. Nestled in the Pine Valley, hidden from the hustle and bustle of one of Canada's busiest metropolitan centers, Heritage Pointe offers a prairie golf getaway that's sure to please.

Not to say that Heritage Pointe is just a "prairie" golf course. The land here moves. In fact, the Pointe course (the other 9-hole courses are "Heritage" and "Desert") offers more elevated tees than most 18 hole courses you're ever going to play, something not too common when referring to prairie golf. The valley is gouged deep into the landscape and the "Desert" nine, located atop the valley among grassy hills more reminiscent of Scottish linksland, is really the only true "prairie" nine at Heritage Pointe. Interestingly enough, the "Desert" nine is arguably the strongest nine.

With the strong prevailing winds blowing and the native fescues dancing with the gusts, Heritage Pointe offers a stern test of golf. Strong enough to host the Telus Calgary Open (a stop on the Canadian Tour), the challenges confronting the rising stars of the game at Heritage Pointe were warmly welcomed and adequately showcased.

The Desert/Heritage combination is clearly the strongest 18-hole offering. The Heritage nine is a blend of rolling prairie holes with deep ravines and crossings over creeks lined with tall bulrushes and of course, the native grasses. The endless opportunities to have a golf ball swallowed by the tall grasses can make for some frustration - keep it on the straight and narrow on the Heritage course!

The first and last on Heritage, both dramatic par-5s, epitomize the contrasting nature of what golf is all about here. The first requires a daring shot down to a landing area framed by pines, a creek, and numerous sandy bunkers guarding anything hit long. The second shot must twice clear the creek to find the fairway sitting well below the thin, elevated green. Deep bunkers guard the front and a grassy slope protects the rear of this difficult green. The 9th, a par-5 that's much more reachable, offers ample space to "let it out." The island green, reminiscent of the rock-lined 17th at PGA West, beckons the bold and humbles the hacker.

The Pointe Course is different than the other two. Its character is defined by shorter, quirkier holes with unique green sites and plenty of elevation changes. It's not uncommon for golfers to feel a little unsure of themselves on the Pointe nine. A number of landing areas are small and stifled, cut short by a creek or grassy swale. It's sometimes difficult to tell how much to hit and which path is best to take. For this reason, the obvious choice for tournament play is the Heritage and Desert nines.

As earlier mentioned, the Desert nine has a Scottish flavor with its grassy mounds, wind-swept fairways, and hidden pot bunkers. Many holes feature huge sandy areas protecting fairways and hugging greens. The par-5 seventh is a great par-5, which boasts the longest sand trap in Canada. For four hundred yards, the left side of No. 7 is protected by this gigantic sandy wasteland. The green, sitting high with a steep bank protecting the front, is a difficult target to hit in two (or three for that matter). Like most greens at Heritage Pointe, the challenges one faces on the dance floor are apt to test your senses to the max. If anything, the greens at Heritage are a tad too severe at times.

No. 8 on the Desert Course is a bold par-4 with a "must-carry" tee shot over a grassy depression. Numerous pot bunkers guard the green, some ten feet deep. "The golf course can be tough on the beginner player" cited a recent member who joined the fold. "Fortunately I can work on all these shots at the practice area, which is twenty steps outside my front door," he finished.

Residential property is flying high at Heritage Pointe. "The Lake At Heritage Pointe" development is selling lots to interested "prairie dwellers" with the added benefit of lakeside recreation. "'The Lake' is a 28 acre, 475 home site residential development which is doing very well for us," commented John Wilson, the Director of Golf at Heritage. With additional townhomes, valley-view home sites, and condominiums, Heritage Pointe continues to position itself as one of Calgary's most prestigious golf course communities.

The practice facilities at Heritage Pointe are top notch. The practice area features a unique three-hole "loop" with a par-5, par-3, and a gutsy par-4 which would be strong enough to be included on any championship venue. The short-game area, complete with bunkers, chipping areas, and a massive putting green is sure to help whatever ails your game.

Corporate Calgary is gobbling up the game with a relentless zeal. Heritage Pointe caters well to this executive crowd. With green fees a little steeper than most public facilities in Calgary, the trend to service and the "country-club" approach at Heritage Pointe seems well received by the local business crowd. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings are "corporate days" at the club and at 42,000 rounds in a six-month season, this Calgary facility is obviously doing something right.

Taking the trip into the Pine Valley and the Heritage Pointe Golf Course is like going back to the heart and soul of the prairie. As you absorb the sights, sounds, and smells, the wind will caress your back and remind you that 10,000 years ago it wasn't much different - except they didn't have titanium.

Heritage Pointe Golf Course
#1 Heritage Pointe Dr.
R.R. #1 De Winton, Alberta, Canada
T0L 0X0
Pro Shop/Tee Times: (403) 256-2002

Desert/Heritage Course:
Championship Tees: 7079 yards / par 72 / 129 slope / 74.0 rating
Black Tees: 6495 yards / par 72 / 123 slope / 71.0 rating
White Tees: 5967 yards / par 72 / 117 slope / 68.5 rating
Red Tees: 4967 yards / par 72 / 120 slope / 68.0 rating

Green Fees: $90 (includes cart & practice facilities)

Directions: Heritage Pointe is located 10 minutes south of Calgary, Alberta on Dunbow Road. Take Highway #2 (or Macleod Tr.) south and then turn east for one mile on Dunbow Road. You'll see Heritage Pointe on your left.

Where To Stay

Calgary is a city of nearly one million people. Stay in the south end of Calgary at the Super 8 (close proximity to shopping, dining, & entertainment). Call 1-403-254-8874 to reserve. (Calgary has numerous hotels, motels, inns, lodges, B & B's, etc.)

Where To Eat

The dining facilities at Heritage Pointe are excellent. The lounge is spacious and the deck is ideal for sunny afternoons. In Calgary, eat at the "4th Street Rose" in Shawnessy for great food in a relaxed atmosphere. Calgary offers hundreds of dining options. For an outstanding dining experience, head to "The Inn On Lake Bonavista" in Calgary's south end. "The Inn" is regarded as one of Calgary's best. For the best prime rib you'll ever eat, head to "Smugglers Inn", also in the south.

Other Activities

Within close proximity to the Rocky Mountains, Calgary offers countless opportunities for day trips, hiking, biking, fishing, boating, etc. Attractions in Calgary include: Heritage Park, Glenbow Museum, The Calgary Zoo, Canada Olympic Park, The Calgary Stampede (early July), & professional hockey, football, & baseball.

Andrew Penner is a freelance writer and photographer based in Calgary, Alberta. His work has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout North America and Europe. You can see more of his work at www.andrewpenner.com.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Harriet Watson Tournament of Champions

    Phyllis M. Allen wrote on: Sep 8, 2011

    On Tuesday, September 6th 2011 I was fortunate enough to have played in the Harriet Watson Tournament of Champions at your STUNNING golf course - Heritage Pointe. The course was in superb condition. The greens were immaculate....fast but fabulous. We played the Desert and Heritage and both had their share of challenges.
    The service in the lounge was great and the staff was exceptionally accomodating.
    Thank you so much for such an entertaining experience.
    I hope some day I will be able to play again.
    Sincere regards,
    Phyllis Allen