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Talking Rock Golf Course feels a bit isolated in a part of Canada that is packed with courses.
Talking Rock Golf Course feels a bit isolated in a part of Canada that is packed with courses. (Wes Gilbertson/Travel Golf)

Bring your sand wedge -- and sandals -- to Talking Rock Golf Course at Quaaout Lodge near Chase, British Columbia

Wes GilbertsonBy Wes Gilbertson,

CHASE, British Columbia -- The scorecard says something about "2,400 feet of sandy beach," an easy detail to glaze over as you read up on the challenge that awaits.

About midway through your round at Talking Rock Golf Course at Quaaout Lodge, it'll hit you.

That must not include the bunkers.

The sandy beach? That's located just a few steps away from the lakefront rooms at the back of the lodge.

The bunkers? Well, they're everywhere.

"Yeah, there's a lot of bunkering," said Adam Blair, director of golf at Talking Rock. "But I think people are all right with that. You're not hitting into a pond that you can't see or over a crevice or looking at forced carries -- things that make it difficult for a 15-handicapper to go out and enjoy their round. But it's not a flat, non-dramatic, no-fun layout, either. It has some character."

I counted more than 80 bunkers at Talking Rock G.C., although my playing partner swears I missed a few.

Some, such as the one that's smack-dab in the landing area on the first fairway, seem almost impossible to miss. Others, like a trio that guard the putting surface at No. 15, you'll hardly even notice. From the elevated tee box on that 210-yard test, the sailboats, sunbathers and other activity on Little Shuswap Lake will steal your attention.

Talking Rock, which is owned, operated and adored by the Little Shuswap Indian Band, is also starting to earn some of the attention it deserves.

Located just a short drive from the itsy-bitsy community of Chase, along the Trans-Canada Highway (if you're a city sort, Kamloops is about an hour away), the 7,129-yard layout feels a bit isolated in a part of Canada that is packed with golf courses. While Talking Rock hasn't scored a lot of national or international accolades, the Graham Cooke/Wayne Carleton design was recently voted as the ninth-best course in British Columbia (No. 4 among public tracks) by club and teaching professionals from around the province. Chances are, you've heard of several of the setups down the list.

"I just think it's a fantastic golf course," Blair said. "It kind of mixes in everything you want out of a resort/mountain golf course. There's lots of space, so you kind feel like you're on your own golf course. There's fantastic views. It's forgiving. It's not unfair. Everything is right there in front of you. You can see the fairways. You can see the greens. It's not tricked up. It just plays like a traditional golf course but has that true mountain feel to it, as well."

Talking Rock is home to a teaching academy and one of the most impressive practice facilities in the region. There's also room for future growth, with real estate plans and enough land for a nine-hole addition or an 18-hole executive-length course.

Talking Rock Golf Course at Quaaout Lodge: The verdict

They wouldn't call them "traps" if they were easy to escape.

It's worth remembering, though, that even a flubbed bunker shot usually feels better than teeing up a provisional or watching a brand new ball splash into scuba territory.

While Talking Rock Golf Course is littered with sand traps, the wide fairways and opportunity to bounce the ball onto every green is good news for beginners. And low-handicappers certainly won't be bored as they strategize shots and try to avoid duties with the rake.

"Ultimately, people come off the course and they don't feel punished," Blair said. "If you hit a bad shot, there's still an opportunity to save face. And you're not punished for hitting good shots. People love that. You can get lost in the mountain atmosphere, but you're not going to get your butt handed to you, either."

Where to stay: Quaaout Lodge

It doesn't get much easier than this.

The long-range plans for Talking Rock include a full clubhouse. For now, the pro shop is located just steps from the front desk in the lobby of Quaaout Lodge. It's not an exaggeration to suggest you could check in for your room and your round in a span of two minutes. The golf carts are parked right outside the main doors.

Convenience isn't the only reason to spend a night or more at Quaaout Lodge, which was renovated in 2010 and is open year-round.

The rooms are standard fare, although the cuisine is anything but. Jack Sam's Restaurant serves authentic Native dishes, and culture-hungry visitors will also find a teepee and traditional sweat lodge on the property.

In the summer months, the opportunity to swim, canoe or walk along the beach on Little Shuswap Lake is a bonus.

Wes Gilbertson covers the NHL’s Calgary Flames and writes golf features for Postmedia in Calgary, Alta. When the snow melts, he's living proof that thin mountain air doesn't turn everybody into a long-drive specialist. Follow Wes on Twitter at @WesGilbertson.

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

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