Review: Greywolf Golf Course
Reading Time: 9 minutes In the discussion for one of the craziest mountain designs in the world, Greywolf is world famous for its Cliffhanger hole, but the other 17 aren’t too bad, either
- Panorama, British Columbia
- Public – Daily Fee
- Doug Carrick (1999)
- 15th in Canada (ScoreGolf)
Greywolf is among the handful of the most photographed courses in Canada. Silvertip in Canmore, Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia, Banff in, well, Banff, and Greywolf, thanks in part to its famous “cliffhanger” par 3, 6th. Normally, when one hole that gets so much attention the rest of the course lacks (especially in BC), however, Greywolf is a great track with a lot of really good holes, making it among the best in Western Canada. Some of Doug Carrick’s best is out here, with a lot of really quality holes and few dim moments. For those with the keen eye, you will see it’s fairly similar to Predator Ridge Golf Resort’s Ridge Course, which was also built by Carrick! They are quite similar in quality and are laid out in the same manner. Both mountain courses, both stunning, but we’re here to talk about Greywolf!
The first hole is just a mid length par 4, only at 404 yards. Like a lot of the holes at Greywolf, the shorter ones are straight up the slope, while the longer holes play down. The first starts that pattern, playing up the slope and to the left.
A creek guards the left side of the hole before cutting across the fairway at about 310 yards and continuing up the right side of the green complex. Two bunkers are on the outside corner of the dogleg to catch those really poor shots everyone has on the first tee.
The 2nd was mediocre. Nothing special at 390 yards, it plays straight up the hill as well. Two bunkers left side fairway aren’t in play.
A bunker short right of the green is massive, so avoid that. Other than that, this is a soft introduction to a challenging golf course.
The third is among the handful of quality golf holes here that could be anyone’s favorite at almost anywhere. Not Greywolf of course, as the quality of good golf holes is quite high. Still going up the mountain, this short par 5 measures only 515 yards. However, difficulty awaits, with a creek running up the left and two bunkers right in the driving zone.
Once you navigate this cape-style tee shot, you’re looking straight up and just a wall of bunkering.
What I loved about this hole is there’s two bunkers right, which you can see above are closer, and three bunkers greenside. From the fairway about 240 out, they all blend together, something the famous Canadian architect Stanley Thompson was known for (and Carrick is a big fan of Thompson).
After what feels like forever climbing up the slope, you finally get relief at the 490 yard, downhill par 4, 4th. This is a great tee shot to let it all unwind. If I remember correctly, everyone in my group flew it over 350 yards the first time I played (as of writing this on August 11, 2019, I’ve been fortunate enough to play Greywolf three times), thanks in part to elevation and the downhill nature of the hole. It’s honestly a driver-short iron, regardless of what the card says.
Downhill on the approach as well (obviously), I liked how approachable this green is from the right side, while the left has to negotiate with the bunkers short left.
The 5th is another really, really good par 5. While I’m sure most people would agree that the 6th is the best hole on the golf course, I think the 5th is perhaps the best hole architecturally. What I mean by that is the 6th is so natural that any common architect would (hopefully) stumble across it and build a similar hole, but the 5th is a very high quality par 5 that I don’t see some of Canada’s mid level architects finding.
The hole itself is 570 yards and tumbling down the mountainside. Being at elevation moving down the mountain, this is gettable in two. The creek itself is the key component of this hole, which runs diagonally so every player has to cross it eventually.
Depending on the layup you hit, it’s a pretty standard wedge shot in. I love how it’s a completely different angle in from someone who decides to go for it. As you can also see, the farther you hit it past the creek (understandable), the more that green-side bunker is in play. Fantastic stuff.
The 6th is the hole everyone shows up for. Nicknamed “cliffhanger,” this 200 yard par 3 plays to a peninsula green. I feel like the picture below does all the talking needed/
The 7th to me is interesting, because the first time around I really enjoyed the green complex. The second time around I saw some similarities in some of the other par 4’s on the back nine and felt turned off by that. And then the third time I went back to enjoying the hole. The tee shot is a little vanilla, but that’s the only criticism in my eyes.
The approach on the 7th is the bread and butter of this hole, with some great bunker work from Carrick’s team.
I felt like the 8th wasn’t as enjoyable as the first seven holes. It’s just nothing too crazy. A slight dogleg right (I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of this tee shot on both my rounds the time I went back). with big trees lining the entire right side of the hole. It’s a pretty sharp dogleg right par 4, playing 446 yards. There’s only one bunker short right of the green. To me this felt like a “get us back to the clubhouse” hole.
The 9th is the most artificial hole on the course. I felt like 17 other holes on the course blend into the natural terrain and suited the landscape, but the 181 yard, par 3 9th plays over a man-made pond with condos long-left.
The 10th is a beautiful long 5 at 580 yards. The tee shot bends slightly to the left around two ponds. Bunkering on the outside corner of the dogleg make this a fairly difficult tee shot that demands your respect.
The approach plays to a green running off front right and to the right, with bunkering left. You could get it there in two but for most it’ll be a stout three shot par 5.
The 11th was weird. I love a good short par 4 that’s drivable, and I’d say this hole is a fairly good hole, but it’s just funky. Yeah, that’s the word I’ll use. The tee shot is severely downhill.
The fairway contours and the downhill nature of the tee shot feel like you’d need to play it at least twice to get a feeling of the hole. A pond left guards the green, while four bunkers are in the layup zone. Anything at the pond will be in the lower portion of the layup area, while the upper part of the fairway is at the green complex.
From the bottom, it’s a lot harder of a wedge shot.
But from the top it’s a fairly standard wedge to a receptive green.
Pick your poison!
The 12th is a fantastic, natural golf hole. 180 yards, playing down the hill to a sporty, perched up green complex. Featuring only one bunker short right, the hole relies on the natural topography to create interest. The green complex here is fantastic, as well.
The 13th is a very difficult tee shot. At 441 yards, this hole doglegs right significantly around a massive bunker that’s only a 230 carry.
I think the best part of Greywolf (other than the location, of course) is how friendly it is to everyone. Bust a power fade around the corner? Hit it straight? You’re rarely forced to hit one specific shot here, and that shines at Greywolf.
The approach at the 13th features some fantastic movement as you get closer, with a run off area short left.
Speaking of options, the blind tee shot on the 14th is quite good. Moving to the right, Carrick gives you two bunkers, and a smaller rock to aim at and pick your line. 527 yards on the card, catch a good one and getting home in two is possible!
The par 5’s at Greywolf are all quite good, with copious options and a multitude of ways to play. Good variety in yardage, and moving different ways.
The approach to the 14th is all-worldly, feeling like a climb up the stairs with the devilish bunkering left.
Only slightly uphill as you get closer to this green complex.
The 15th is another par 3 over a pond, but unlike the 9th, this feels more natural. I’m not sure if this pond was here or not prior to the golf course (it was likely soft marshland I would assume), but Carrick did a good job of incorporating this into the design. It’s shorter at 170 or so yards, playing downhill.
The 16th is a really, really good short par 4. Only 390 yards, playing slightly downhill, this hole is a sharp dogleg right. Take whatever club gets you 125 and play the wedge shot in. This tee shot is deceptively downhill.
The inside corner of the dogleg here features some of the most inspired bunkering on the golf course.
The strategy of this hole is to keep it right on the inside corner to have the best angle in. Because it plays downhill, the player will likely end up on the left side and will more than likely have to fly the short left bunkers by the green. Smart players keeping it right will have a far easier approach shot.
The 17th is probably my vote for the hardest hole here because the tee shot is fairly tight. Moving to the left, bunkering up the right all the way to 295 yards off the 450 yard deck is in play. Cutting the corner with driver, or clubbing down is key.
The approach moves down the hill into a natural bowl. This is one of the more difficult green complexes as it features some of the most movement on the course.
In terms of a world class golf course, like anyone could make the argument about Greywolf, it deserves a world class finishing hole that’s the epic conclusion to the round. Unfortunately… 18 here is not that. The 447 yard, uphill par 4 plays to a massive fairway with two bunkers right that aren’t in play. There is so much room here to hit it as hard as you possibly can.
The approach plays to an obnoxiously big green that feels out of place with the other 17.
Once you get past the fact that the 15th best golf course in Canada (as of the 2018/2019 ranking) has an atrocious finishing hole, you realize how special of a golf course Greywolf is. Visually interesting and challenging, score-able and fun, and of course strategic, Greywolf has all the makings of a great golf course. For anyone going to the Rockies, I would do this with Banff and Jasper, which are both obviously amazing, as the third accessory to your trip. You won’t be disappointed in this choice!
1 thought on “Review: Greywolf Golf Course”
A few comments from someone that has played this course 3-5x a year for the past 18 -20 years. Admittedly a hack, but some tips from a higher handicapper:
1. For the bogey golfer, the first three holes are a trial. All play longer than stated yardages due to the steep uphill. Add an extra club or even two on approaches into green. The first hole sets you up to drive to the right corner bunkers and the creek on the left has one wanting to ensure not to pull the ball (for a right handed golfer). It takes force of will to put the ball to the left centre of the fairway. Missed to the slight left of the first two greens will bounce down to the green or close to it. Both of the first two greens are long front to back and narrow left to right.
2. The 4th hole is a majestic welcome relief after the grind uphill of the first three holes. Steep down hill drives soar against the backdrop of Mount Nelson’s shoulder ridge and the Purcell range. Tee shots of normal distances will bounce off the hard rock based rough to the left of the fairway and should bounce down to the fairway, and may even add a few yards of distance.
3. The par 4 – 7th hole, the drive should favour the left side of the fairway to have the best approach to another long, narrow ish green that quarters front left to back right.
4. The 11th hole, the best “miss” is to bounce the ball off the right slope adjacent to the upper fairway. Too far right is in the trees, but the rough is sparse enough that most balls that miss 5-10 yards right the of the fairway will bounce down to the fairway.
5. 13…a very challenging par 4. The tee shot to a narrow landing area over the protective inside bunkers as described. A tee shot on the far left side of the fairway results in a blind approach to the green over a massive ridge and boulder. The green is narrow back to front and very wide left to right, with a large collection area front left of the green. The approach might be th e most challenging in the region, IMO.
6. 16th hole, short par 4. Many locals will try yo go for the green, but that doesn’t give you much advantage. A bad miss hard right to the 17th fairway in front of tee boxes is the better miss as you have a direct shot to the green, just get beyond the trees separating the 16th and 17th fairways.
7. 17th hole. Best line is over the rocky slope on the left to mid-fairway, cutting the corner. However a drive straight towards the shale rock on the far side of the main fairway, visible from the tee box is the “safe “ choice. Driver may well be too much club for this shot.
I agree with your assessment of the 18th hole, though as a slicer, the two bunkers on the right of the fairway are in play for big misses.