Review: Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club


  • Quilchena, British Columbia
  • Temporarily closed; normally public
  • Rod Whitman, Richard Zokol & Armen Suny (2009)
  • 10th in Canada (2014’s ScoreGolf list)

Memphremagog, James Island, Mount Bruno, Ovvinbryd, Domaine Laforest: the hardest tee times in Canada to get. Lately, its felt like Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club outside of Merritt, British Columbia has been added to that list. Closing to the public at the end of the 2014 golf season, tee times here are hard to come by, even though the course is still maintained. I’ve played Sagebrush three times and every time was spectacular.

The opening hole, a gentle par 5 up the slope, playing a mere 510 yards for today’s standards. It’s a slight dogleg left, though nothing too crazy, with a fairly big fairway that accepts a big blast.

I really enjoyed the green complex, as the back and the middle portion of the green bowls, while the front features a massive false front. I wish I would’ve gotten a picture!

The second hole is probably my favorite on the property, although there is a lot contenders. Playing around 450 yards, the hole dives down to the right, almost like a ski hill, with the Nicola River in the background. Truly an all-world par 4.

The third, a shorter par 4 that doglegs to the left, is a neat hole that uses a bunker short right of the green as the prime strategic point. Hug the left and have a good angle and an easy approach, or take the easier tee shot down the right and have a difficult wedge.

The fourth, which is likely the signature hole at Sagebrush, is a 180 yard drop shot par 3 with the Nicola River as a backdrop. You can hit this shot up to 30 yards short and let the nature slope take it, but with bunkering left, long and right, it’s a calculated risk that would depend on the wind (which there’s a lot here).

The middle of the course is still good, but I unfortunately only took pictures of the first 6 or so and the final 6. I loved 5, a mid length par 4 that forces you to challenge the right side, though a big carry, for a unobstructed view of the green (with what seemed to be an ode to Pine Valley’s Devil’s Asshole bunker short right).

6 is a solid par 3, measuring 260 odd yards, with a neat green complex. 7 was the worst hole on the course, at 650 yards, the par 5 was an awkward tee shot, with an awkward layup and a weird second shot if you’re going for it (yes, it’s reachable). The 16th is just a better version of this hole, anyway. The good news is they ripped this hole up and rerouted it for a driving range and hole variety, so lets hope it’s better.

8 is a really cool bunker-less hole, playing closer to 490 yards from the back deck, and the fairway looks like the wrinkles on a cotton shirt after you leave it under your bed for months. There’s no such thing as an even lie on the 8th.

The 9th is my favorite green complex I’ve played, with a back left tongue and a huge bowl in the front. There is some really wild pin locations here that I would not want to play a tournament to. You likely won’t know all the correct spots your first time around but try and leave yourself with the easiest putt you can.

The 10th, a shorter par 3 around 160 yards goes downhill. This is the only true dull hole on the course, but nevertheless a good green complex saves the hole.

The 11th is another really cool dogleg left, measuring 487 from the back deck. This fairway is a legit 150 yards wide, so if you miss this fairway, well, I have a good teaching pro I can refer you to.

The closer you hug the left, the better cause you can get a mid iron in. If you hit it to the right, you could have three wood in.

The 13th, a drivable par 4, plays slightly downhill. There’s a water hazard in the layup area left that pretty much forces you to hit driver, but it’s a pretty tough green complex to get up and in for birdie.

The 14th is among the best par 5’s I’ve seen. From an elevated tee, this 550+ par 5 doglegs to the right off the tee shot, and then swings up to the left on the approach, playing through some natural dunes to a spectacular green site. One of the coolest par 5’s!

The fairway on 14 joins up with the fairway on 11, so swing for the fences! It’s close to 200 yards wide.

The finish at Sagebrush starts with a reachable par 5 at 16, playing 656 yards, but straight downwind and with firm conditions (as well as the approach). A massive bunker guards this green, so avoid that and you should be good to go.

18 is another nice hole, but nothing real special. Strategically it is interesting, though, with a wide enough fairway to make you comfortable. Hit your shot to the right for the ideal angle and view of the green—missing in the left side of the fairway gives you neither.

It’s tough to really put into words how awesome Sagebrush is. No tee markers, no rakes in the bunkers, just pure golf. The course is big and bold, and knocks it out of the park with another Rod Whitman course being a grand slam. Out of the 4 I’ve played, Sagebrush is the best, and with Cabot on schedule for September, I’m excited for the gladiator match that is Rod Whitman’s best course. For Cabot, it’ll be tough to beat Sagebrush. Hopefully it opens soon so the public can enjoy once again!

Before your round ends, don’t forget to stay until dark to use the putting course with the lights. The experience is exceptional and the food is amazing.

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