Golfing at the Banff Springs Golf Course is one of those “must do’s” for golfers in the Calgary area. It has a long, distinguished history, which includes visits by royalty, movie stars and entertainers.
The course was first set in place as a nine-hole course in 1911 by Bill Thomson. It was expanded to 18 holes in 1924. Prince Edward VIII (the future King Edward) played the course on his cross-Canada tour in 1919. It was Stanley Thompson, Canada’s most significant and successful golf architect, who created the layout as it plays today. The current Stanley Thompson course is named after him. It was, at a million dollars when it opened in 1928, the most expensive course in the world. Thompson’s layout incorporated some of the original holes but also included a few new ones, such as Devil’s Cauldron, a 200-yard par 3. More about that below.
In 1954, Marilyn Monroe filmed A River of No Return in Banff and was photographed on the course along with Joe DeMaggio. You can find that photo in one of the “pit stops” along the way, as well as in the Heritage Room in the Banff Springs Hotel.
One of the most famous holes in all of golfdom is the par 3, 4th hole on the Thompson course, known as the Devil’s Cauldron. While we were there, two of our foursome got engaged. A spectacular backdrop for a spectacular event. The hole itself is a visual treat marked by water in the front, and a surrounding of bunkers, so a perfect launch is the only way to make par. It’s downhill, but don’t be fooled. It’s a challenge. Stanley Thompson said that when he designed the hole, it was intended to be the “last word on golf.” Nuff said.
The 14th hole brings you face to face with the towering Banff Springs Hotel. A perfect place to pause to get that group shot.
The courses are expensive to play – $259 for the Stanley Thompson course, and $109 for Tunnel Mountain.
While it’s a public course, memberships are available, but are restricted to residents of the Bow Valley and limited to 200 adults and 75 juniors.
Playing Banff is a memorable experience, and well worth putting aside a little extra holiday cash to play!