Visiting a golf course under construction reveals a lot about the process. Truthfully, I have only really seen renovations under construction, but each time I have visited a renovation, they have been fruitful in knowledge and gaining perspective. Whether it is Jeff Mingay and Christine Fraser showing me around at Cutten Fields during renovation of the old Chick Evans/Stanley Thompson golf course, Keith Cutten around Brantford, a very old golf course and club (in fact, the 4th oldest this side of the Atlantic) rejuvenated by sophisticated architecture, or before getting into architecture, being a member at Kelowna Golf & Country Club as a junior revealed Jeff Mingay’s meticulous work, usually ongoing in the fall.
At Revelstoke, however, I had never seen a raw site before, let alone a project of such magnitude. This is, after all, Cabot’s second venture into the Canadian golf landscape. On the opposite coast, and closer to home for me.
The first time I heard of the project was in 2019, way before I should have, through industry chatter and leaks. Someone trusted me to talk about it, although living in BC for a period of time prior to my now-residency in Toronto, I thought: “it is difficult to build a golf course in BC. I will believe it when I see it.”
Well, we are on the way to believing it, and while my site visit did not include architects Rod Whitman, Dave Axland, or Keith Cutten, I was able to grab a look at what will be one of Canada’s premiere golf courses.
This project is not like Inverness, Nova Scotia. In fact, quite the opposite. Revelstoke is an exciting, already established resort town, whereas Inverness was a struggling coal mine. Revelstoke is in the mountains, whereas Inverness is on the ocean.
As an added benefit, Revelstoke is a well-known resort town in its own regard out west. Granted, it is a winter destination, with arguably Canada’s best ski hill (the steepest and with the most powder each year). In the summer, hiking, exploring the Columbia River, and mountain biking are the main draws, with golf at Revelstoke Golf Club also being included in the fun. As opposed to Inverness, Cabot Revelstoke is adding to the fun, not beginning it.
My site visit, however, revealed a lot about the golf course. Firstly, the property is expansive and hilly. For those who have been to British Columbia, hilly is not exactly a surprise. What will be, though, is it should be a walkable golf course. Corridors reveal short green-to-tee walks, and a rolling property never too aggressive. For fans of mountain golf, there are those “wow” moments you get, plus some intense elevation changes. For those purists, this is not your typical mountain golf course.
There are demanding uphill holes, ones where golfers will traverse up the base of the mountain towards the famed ski hill. The par 4, 18th will be like that, whereas the opening par 4 is a dramatic short 4 down the mountainside, dropping some 100 feet tee-to-green (above).
With every mountain golf experience, the downhill holes are exhilarating and what everyone comes for. They will come in swaths at the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 11th, 15th, and 17th, but for the difference between a good and a great golf course, the uphill holes make all the difference in the world. On an initial scouting report, the 10th, 12th, 14th, and 16th holes will be dramatic, even if they do climb the mountain.
Expect Canada’s Best Modern Mountain Golf Course
With all due respect to Sagebrush, which I love, Revelstoke looks poised to take over the crown for Canada’s best modern mountain golf course. Sagebrush is excellent and worthy of carrying the crown, but the differential will be walkability. At Jasper Park Lodge, Canada’s best classic mountain course, walkability is a key aspect as to why the golfer enjoys the journey around the mountain, through the meadow, and down to the lake. Likewise at Capilano, which is famous for being walkable whilst traversing very hilly terrain. Similarly to Jasper tapping into the emotional journey of a golf round by changing scenery, Revelstoke will follow suit. It is a mountain golf course, but the canyon around the 8th, the meandering creek around the 4th/5th/12th/13th, and the expansiveness of the 6th, 7th, 9th-11th will tap into those emotions. Expectations are high.
Instagram’s New Favourites: The 8th and 17th
Even as dirt, the 8th and 17th are immediate standout holes from a camera perspective. The best part? They beautifully juxtapose each other. At 259 yards, the 8th is a stout par 3 around a mountain canyon. In press releases, Rod Whitman has compared the hole to the 16th at Cypress Point in terms of how it will play. A very dramatic golf hole, welcomed by the yang to the 8th’s ying at the downhill 166 yard, par 3 17th. The 8th is tucked into the mountain landscape, while the 17th, high atop the region overlooking the Columbia River valley and the Monachee Mountains in the back, fully encapsulates the beauty of Revelstoke. Neither will be as universally marketed at Cabot Cliffs 16th, but expect one of the two (or both!) to be everywhere once it opens.
Revelstoke Is Not Inverness
There are things to do in Inverness, Nova Scotia, but not quite like Revelstoke, which has been a bubbling tourist destination in the west for years. If golf is all you seek, pair it with Sagebrush, Tobiano, and Predator Ridge’s Ridge course, using Kelowna International Airport (YLW) as your travel port. If you’re seeking other things to do, Revelstoke has numerous activities in the summer, such as hiking, Guerilla Gigs, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Enchanted Forest, and more. For more details, visit See Revelstoke.
Holes To Watch: The Par 4, 2nd
There are always holes that you expect to blow you away, such as the aforementioned 8th and 17th, but the par 4, 2nd is shaping up to be a sneaky great golf hole. At 427 yards, this mid-length par 4 is cut into the side of the hill at one of the lower parts of the golf course. The fairway is titled to the lower side bunkers, with the green orientated to favour a fade coming in. Remind you of somewhere? St. George’s, one of Canada’s best and a staple on World Top 100 lists, often asks you to fade a ball off a draw lie, or draw a ball off a fade lie.
Holes To Watch: The Par 4, 7th
Being the leading act to the par 3, 8th will be a difficult task, but the middle length 7th should be able to do it. A small dip in the fairway, a la Pasatiempo’s 14th, will dictate strategy off the tee, but the highlight will be the green complex, cut atop the canyon that the 8th carries over. Oh, and the view will be pretty good, too.
Holes To Watch: The Par 4, 15th
Rod Whitman was/is apparently a good player, so in his golf courses, there are various points that the good player ought to separate himself if he wants to win. The par 4, 15th seems to be that moment, at least on the initial scouting report. A middle to longer par 4 just shy of 450 or so yards, a tee shot slightly downhill/slightly side hill off the right will battle with two bunkers right, and one left. Different than the 2nd, the draw-biased lie will be better suited for the green complex, but a short grass collection area left will catch the overcooked shots.
If it was not obvious yet, we are excited to see the final product and as the golf course progresses, we will do our best to keep you in the loop. For now, enjoy our photo gallery below, and stay tuned until an opening in 2024!