Future of Stanley Thompson’s Elk Island Unknown

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The future of Stanley Thompson’s Elk Island, located about 45 minutes east of downtown Edmonton, is up in the air following a two-year closure due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Located in Elk Island National Park, the golf course is one of a handful of Stanley Thompson designs located in a national park, including Banff Springs, Jasper Park Lodge, Clear Lake, Waterton Lakes, and Cape Breton Highlands Links. The future of Elk Island Golf Course is currently up in the air, with Parks Canada taking feedback on the future for the land the golf course currently sits on.

Opened in 1937 at the hands of the Public Works Program to spark employment following The Great Depression, Elk Island shares similarities to Cape Breton Highlands Links, a stunning Stanley Thompson golf course on the East Coast in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Like Highlands Links, No. 5 on Beyond The Contour‘s 2022/2023 Top 100, Elk Island is fruitful with topography suitable for golf, further provided by manual labour and a lack of machinery to provide more jobs. Both golf courses are designed by Stanley Thompson, Canada’s greatest architect.

It is not unreasonable to include Elk Island in the discussion for Canada’s best nine hole golf course, and certainly some of the most dynamic contours and ground for golf in the country. At least according to Beyond The Contour founder Andrew Harvie, who puts it as the best nine hole golf course in Canada, and a golf course worth saving:

Elk Island’s ability to tap into the natural surroundings of such a beautiful park have not only provided an exciting routing, but some of the best holes in Canada. The 7th could reasonably be the best drive-and-pitch hole in Canada, and Thompson’s artistry—at the same time as Highlands Links, no less—is on full display here. The dramatic 9th, up and over the ridge, is one of the most exciting finishes in the province. Losing Elk Island would be a shame for the local golf community and architecture community in Canada.

Andrew Harvie, founder at Beyond The Contour

Rolling hills full of either macro or micro contours provide dramatic shots across all nine holes, which include numerous highlights, including the par 4, 1st, the up-and-over par 4, 9th, and the hog’s back par 4, 7th, which would make a “best in Canada” list. For a full course tour & review, click here.

In total, six golf courses can lay claim to having Thompson’s brilliance in Alberta: Jasper Park Lodge, Banff Springs, Waterton Lakes, Royal Mayfair, Edmonton Country Club, and Elk Island. Unfortunately, Thompson’s plan at Lethbridge was never implemented, and Prince Rupert (Edmonton) no longer exists. Losing another Stanley Thompson, especially of such interest and importance to a National Park, would be unfortunate.

Those looking to show support for Elk Island Golf Course should do so here before March 17, 2023.


2 thoughts on “Future of Stanley Thompson’s Elk Island Unknown

  1. Spot on. Incredible course. Would be a shame to lose it. With the right operator maintaining it and marketing it, could make a good go.

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