For those who want even more than a world-class golf experience with high-end service, the Alberta Canadian Rockies are the perfect destination with extra curricular activities and natural beauty abound.

We were swooshing through the rapids on the Kananaskis River in the alberta Canadian Rockies when it hit me-this must be what it was like for the earliest thrill-seekers to discover one of Earth’s great natural adventures.


Rafting on the Kananaskis is titillating in the extreme. Cascading through chutes of current surrounded by impossibly majestic, snowcapped mountain spires? Check. Rushing adrenalin and travel mates whooping in exhilaration as we sweep down the river? Check.

“Today is a good day,” I remember thinking. “It can’t get better than this.”

Wrong, I discovered, while hovering in a helicopter next to 9,000-feet high peaks not far from the North American Continental Divide. Drinking in 360-degree views of the lush green valley below, pale blue sky, ancient, gray mountain faces and turquoise mountain lakes created by melt water made for an equally exhilarating experience.

Not bad, considering these were après-golf activities during our annual buddies excursion. While golf in the Alberta Canadian Rockies is excellent, it’s the “extracurricular” events, which put it over the top for us.

This province’s natural gifts are an epiphany for many-and certainly for our merry group- thanks to Banff and Jasper National Parks. Located about 80 miles west of Calgary and 250 miles southwest of Edmonton, respectively, the two parks are essentially next to each other, spanning roughly 8,000 square miles along the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies.

Think unspoiled wilderness. I did when we saw bighorn sheep, enormous elk, coyote pups,

OH, YEAH … GOLF!

It would be a mistake to forget golf while in central Alberta, where we headquartered at the Grand Rockies Resort in Canmore (near Banff) during our visit.

Our three “must-haves” when planning our group golf trips are great golf courses, a variety of after-golf activities and high-end service and execution.

The Canadian Rockies exceeded our expectations in all categories.

We try to find packagers which bundle transportation, tee times, luxury lodging and other preferences conveniently via dedicated websites. For the Canadian Rockies, booking was easiest through www.canadianrockiesgolf.net, where we found the link to vacation packages and more on the home page. Moreover, the staff was knowledgeable and customized the experience based on our preferences.

Because we insist on pampering ourselves, we chose a luxury coach for our Alberta ground transportation, via Luxury Motor Coach Charters. In true rock band royalty style, our custom ride came with a stocked refrigerator, kitchen with fresh snacks, couches and huge picture windows throughout-the better to see the stunning scenery that is omnipresent. Directions, keeping the group together and arriving on time were never a problem, and our driver provided tour information that only enhanced our experience.

Our playing choices were of the trophy-course variety. They included The Fairmont Banff Springs, Canmore Golf & Curling Club, Silvertip Resort, Stewart Creek, The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and Kananaskis Country (which is currently closed after a 100-year flood last season).

We loved the mix of these courses, which were complementary and compelling through their unique differences and memorability.

For instance the two Fairmont courses- designed by “Golden Era of Golf ” architect legend Stanley Thompson-included holes named “Devil’s Cauldron” and “Cleopatra.” These were spectacular, unforgettable holes and indicative of the masterful designs to which they belong.

Canmore is a membership club, which embraces outside play. Lucky for us, because not only was the course a glorious walk through a park-land style routing-graced by mountain walls so close that we watched our shots seemingly climb the granite face backdrops as they flew-but also for its hearty, earthy off-course vibe. If you’ve seen the TV sitcom “Cheers,” you know to what I infer-a place where friendly people unwind in a jovial setting, enjoying life and welcoming visitors.

Silvertip and Stewart Creek are resort-style courses, which are as beautiful as they are challenging. These will simultaneously test your game and reward your discerning choice in courses, as both are modern gems. We found their after-golf culinary and club amenities superb. For instance, taking a post-round glass of wine from Silvertip’s elevated clubhouse patio while enjoying prime Alberta beef at the award-winning Rustica Steakhouse-all while perched over the water-side 18th green below-is to indulge the senses.

While the two 18-hole courses at

Kananaskis are currently closed-both designed by Robert Trent Jones and ranked among the best in Canada-they’re not to be missed when open. Make sure you check when booking your trip.

MAN CANNOT LIVE BY GOLF AND ADVENTURE ALONE

Lodging options abound. We chose the two aforementioned Fairmonts in Banff and Jasper as bookends for our weeklong trip, with stays at Canmore’s Grande Rockies Mountain Resort and the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis.

Not only were these luxurious digs; they were also close to hiking trails and ranches or in town pubs and eateries, all of which we thoroughly explored. All had quick access to in-house spas, where I enjoyed getting a massage and taking a cool dip in the pool after a vigorous day of sun and outdoor recreation.

If you take my advice and visit the Canadian Rockies, stop at the Canmore Golf & Curling Club, and ask for Darren “Cookie” Cooke. Tell him I sent you. He’ll make you feel right at home.

PLACES TO STAY
Delta Lodge at Kananaskis, (403) 591-7711 www.deltalodge.albertanetwork.com
Grande Rockies Resort, (877) 223-3398 www.granderockies.com
The Fairmont Banff Springs, (403) 762-2211 www.fairmont.com/banffsprings
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, (780) 852-3301 www.fairmont.com/jasper

THINGS TO DO
Travel Alberta www.travelalberta.com/en-us/
Banff National Park, www.banffnationalpark.com
Jasper National Park, www.jaspercanadianrockies.com
Kananaskis Heli Tours Inc, (403) 881-2500 www.discoverkananaskis.com
Rocky Mountain Raft Tours, (403) 762-3632 www.banffrafttours.com

PLACES TO PLAY
www.canadianrockiesgolf.ca

LUXURY GROUND TRANSPORTATION
Luxury Motor Coach Charters, (403) 678-2990 www.luxurymotorcoach.ca

AIRPORTS
Calgary International (YYC) www.yyc.com
Edmonton International (YEG) www.flyeia.com

MORE INFORMATION
www.travelalberta.com