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The fescue turns a striking burnt orange at Predator Ridge.
The fescue turns a striking burnt orange at Predator Ridge. (Chris Baldwin/GolfPublisher.com)

Predator Ridge golf courses' tricked-up greens detract from Okanagan wonder

Chris BaldwinBy Chris Baldwin,

Deep in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, the Predator Ridge resort and spa boasts three nine-hole golf courses: the Red Tail, Peregrine and Opsrey. The scenery and design are spectacular. Unfortunately, Predator Ridge overdoes it in the form of tricked-up greens.

VERNON, B.C. - Remember the kid in high school who yearned so hard to please that he ended up with few friends? You thought he was all right at first, then he ended up going too far in his enthusiasm and doing something strange.

That's Predator Ridge, a 27-hole golf complex in the burgeoning Okanagan golf, wine and lakes region of British Columbia.

This place does a lot of things right. The resort itself is an unexpectedly wonderful high-end stay. The three nine-hole golf courses can be striking, with brilliant burnt-orange fescue framing some holes while others weave around lakes or run through towering pine forest.

But then Predator Ridge goes too far.

No, no one starts running around the fairways in a toga. Predator Ridge overdoes it in the form of tricked-up greens.

So tricked-up that once you land on the putting surface you're no longer playing golf. It might be putt-putt, pool or Pro V1 ice skating by the time you finish the round, but it definitely isn't a whole lot of fun.

Watching a putt roll all the way back to your feet can be amusingly frustrating on one or two holes. Seeing well-hit putts swerve so wild you think Mel Gibson's driving them can be interestingly infuriating now and then.

Getting this hole after hole after hole, though - that just gets old.

Every green you don't three-putt at Predator Ridge is cause for a Tiger Woods fist-pump - heck, maybe even one of those LPGA-winner leaps into a lake.

Welcome to the mad superintendent's playhouse.

"You'd think they'd know better by now," said a clubhouse attendant at another area course, echoing a thought I heard throughout a recent Okanagan trip. "They get enough complaints about it."

Maybe Predator Ridge officials consider it part of the course's identity. And there are surely some golfers who appreciate the different looks these crazy slanted greens provide.

"Predator Ridge is a good course to take on once or twice a year," local golfer Wynn Williams said. "That way the greens don't get to you as much."

Holes like No. 5 on the Red Tail nine deserve better than that. This 568-yard par 5 runs around a lake with an island of trees in the middle of it. You have to clear the lake twice - once off the tee to get onto the fairway and again to reach the tucked-away green.

The yardage book and course literature says the alligator that lived in this mammoth lake passed away last year. It's a joke - there never was a 'gator. But with all the nature that's rustling around Predator Ridge, a visitor isn't likely to catch on.

Families of deer gather at tee boxes. Coyotes sometimes cut across the course. Hundreds of turtles call Predator Ridge's lakes home, sunbathing on the rocks as golfers send balls screaming over their heads. Marmots - large, hairy squirrels with yellow bellies - scurry about. Predator Ridge could practically qualify as its own nature sanctuary, so far removed is it from the main Okanagan town of Kelowna.

In this scene, who couldn't be fooled by a phantom alligator? Maybe the critter knows how to putt these crazy greens.

The verdict on Predator Ridge

You want to like Predator Ridge. Really, you do. Play Red Tail's ninth, a 444-yard par 4 that seems to plunge down into a valley, and your adrenalin's pumping. Until you get to the green.

The Peregrine nine's 481-yard No. 2, the site of which supposedly inspired Predator Ridge's golf-lifer owner Herb Paterson to buy the land for the course, drops 40 feet from the high tee to a fairway flanked by Canadian pines. It's exhilarating high-forest theater. Until you get to the green.

And there's temptation aplenty at Peregrine's curving, drivable eighth, a 510-yard part 5 with water running all the way from tee to green on the left side. "You can be a hero or a dope," the 81-year-old Paterson said, laughing.

But either way, eventually you're going to get to the green. And that's when the laughing stops.

Predator Ridge would be an Okanagan must-play if not for those ridiculous putting grounds, but this kind of torment is not what most resort golfers are looking for. Best to play it once and ask your putter for forgiveness in the morning.

Predator Ridge stay and play

Unlike the course, Predator Ridge's resort strikes no wrong notes. The two main lodge buildings include a spa, and many of the two-bedroom units have huge whirlpool tubs. Ask for a room with a balcony overlooking the out-there nature wonderland.

Dining out

The resort has great high-end buffet type meals where you get your salads, appetizers and deserts out of the line and your main dish cooked to order.

For a blowout dinner in a picturesque setting, Gray Monk Estate Winery (www.graymonk.com) is the spot. The outdoor patio overlooks vineyards that stretch all the way to Lake Okanagan. Cooking with a daring touch goes well with the good wines, and the waitresses may just be the best you've ever had.

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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
  • Mis informed

    Judy wrote on: Apr 10, 2013

    I have read through your information and it seems to be a bit dated. I live in the area and know that there are 2 full 18 hole courses at Predator Ridge, as well there is no spa due to the Sparkling Hill Resort up the hill from Predator. It is a fantastic place to play and walk around though so that has not changed.
    Perhaps you can redo the story with some current information? Thank you for listening and keeping up to date with our beautiful area!