It’s an 18-kilometre drive up a winding mountain road and the anticipation builds through every turn in the road.
Finally, Greywolf Golf Course appears at the top of the mountain at Panorama, B.C., and the adventure is about to begin.
And what an adventure.
The 20-year-old course, part of a cluster of terrific tracks in the Invermere, B.C., area, should be on a must-play list for any golfer serious about the game.
Mountain courses have a natural geographical advantage and course designer Doug Carrick did an exceptional job of shaping an outstanding golf course within the rocks, trees, creeks and mountain slopes with which he was presented.
“It’s amazing how playable it is considering it’s built into a mountain,” said Justin Brown, director of golf at Greywolf.
The course has a steady climb on the first three holes before the spectacular fourth, a steep downhill par-4 called “Descent.”
By the sixth hole, you’re ready for a par-3, but this hole, the ‘Ciffhanger’, is no ordinary par-3.
There’s no escaping a poorly struck tee shot.
The 155-, 175- or 200-yard hole has a tee box and a green and nothing but a tree- and rock-filled canyon in between.
A couple of years ago, the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey offered golfers a chance to play a simulation of the hole.
“We know that Cliffhanger draws a lot of people and it should, because it is one of the best golf holes I’ve ever played,” general manager Dane Thorogood of Totem Golf, said in a Calgary Sun interview.
Totem Golf has owned Greywolf’ since 2013.
“I can’t think of a hole like it anywhere in the world,” Thorogood said.
A number of positive changes at Greywolf have been made since the ownership change, said Brown.
A new, 6,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse/ restaurant was built, replacing an ATCO trailer, offering a “more fitting image for this calibre of course,” he said.
The new owners also improved course drainage, paved all the cart paths and undertook a project (currently under way) to build 12 new forward tee boxes that will provide an option for guests to play the course from about 4,600 yards.
The Panorama Mountain Resort also offers about 500 condo units, providing a number of stay-and-play options for visitors.
While Greywolf provides a true challenge to golfers of all skill levels, a four-hour trip around the course is memorable — good golf or bad.
“The scenery is what blows them away,” said Brown.
Don’t just take Brown’s word for it.
ScoreGolf’s ranking of every golf course in Canada has Greywolf at No. 15. The same publication’s ranking of public courses (the Top 59, which uses value as one of the criteria) slots Greywolf in at No. 5 — behind only the two Cabot courses in Cape Breton (Cliffs and Links), and the national park courses in Jasper and Banff.
“That’s pretty good company,” said Brown.
Brown said all the changes the new owners have made since 2013 “have paid off.”
The short season at Greywolf runs from around the first of May to early October, but Brown said “just shy of 20,000 rounds” will be played in 2019.
And as word spreads around the world about the beauty and playability of Greywolf, that number should continually rise to mountains-peak levels.
If you go, by car it’s a five-hour drive from the Okanagan through beautiful scenery through Revelstoke, Golden and Invermere to Panorama.