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August 2015

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Elk Ridge Resort

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Green Golf Designs

Dakota Dunes
Dakota Dunes
Dakota Dunes
Dakota Dunes

Dakota Dunes Golf Links
- "Experience it in Autumn Splendor"

By George Bowditch, Sask. Golfer

The days may be getting a bit shorter and the air is crisp but Dakota Dunes Golf Links is a spectacular place to play golf in autumn. The links style course offers wonderful views of the countryside in fall and offers a very special leaf-free golf where you do not have to search for your golf ball in huge mounds of leaves.

Saskatchewan has many varied ecosystems that add to the beautiful landscape and you can count on many different types of golf courses based on what the province's landscape has to offer. The layout at Dakota Dunes Golf Links is no different.

The links style course is located on the Whitecap Dakota First Nation land a short drive south of Saskatoon. Dakota Dunes Golf Links is situated on natural sand dune formations and the indigenous prairie grasses.

Five tee decks with yardages ranging from 5100 to 7300 yards allows golfers of all abilities to be thoroughly challenged and entertained. Rolling fairways with large greens that are in immaculate condition await and ready to receive shots. Dakota Dunes has been designed to be playable for golfers of all levels.

It is located throughout sand dune formations and indigenous prairie grasses. During the spring and summer at the course you may see cactus flowers, crocuses blooming, smell wild roses and on and on. The fall season is no different with the fall colours of gold and red painting the countryside. The course is an experience from more than just a great game of golf as it features nature at its best.

While the surrounding scenery is great, don't underestimate the golf course as if you do it can bite you big time. The large greens are meticulously manicured but full of subtle breaks and the fairways are rolling tests of skill that will challenge you from hole to hole.

General Manager McLaren Taylor describes the par 3-15th hole as the signature hole on the course and this writer agrees with him that this hole is extra special. You will not be disappointed.

"The signature hole at Dakota Dunes Golf Links is the par-3 15th hole. With layered tee decks set high among the dunes that range from 115 to 176 yards, this hole plays downhill with the green set in a natural coulee. It is one of the most spectacular views on the course, both down to the green, and across the links that stretch beyond."

In addition to the golf, the Dakota Dunes Casino is located next door. The casino is an architectural masterpiece where you can try your hand at a variety of casino games. The Casino also brings in world-class entertainment for your enjoyment as well.

Dakota Dunes Golf Links is also the venue of the PGA Tour Canada's Dakota Dunes Open each year during the first full week of July. Many top calibre professionals have honed their skills at this tournament and gone on to bigger things. Player such as Graham DeLaet, Josh Geary, Andres Gonzales, Matt Hill, Adam Hadwin, Brad Fritch, and James Hahn walked the fairways at Dakota Dunes.

You are advised to book ahead when planning to be in the area and want to play this masterpiece of a golf course. You can call toll free at 1-877-414-4653 and the friendly golf staff led by General Manager McLaren Taylor and Head Professional Mike Jacobs will do their best to make sure your golfing experience at Dakota Dunes is one you will remember fondly.

Plan to come back often as the winds drop in fall and the autumn colours adorn the landscape surrounding the emerald green fairways. Come and experience the Autumn Splendor of Dakota Dunes. We are waiting for you!

Dakota Dunes
Dakota Dunes
Dakota Dunes
Dakota Dunes

Golf and Gambling in Las Vegas

By Andrew Penner

Golf and gambling go together like cake and ice cream. Beer and nachos. Steak and potatoes. Or, in Vegas, Kobe beef and a bottle of Bordeaux. Indeed, swinging with some swagger - and going for broke whenever possible - on Sin City courses is just par for the course.

For golfers and gamblers looking to throw down a few bets - on either the tables or the turf - hunkering down at the MGM Grand always does the trick. The massive hotel, owned and operated by MGM Resorts International, has it all. And then some.

(MGM Resorts International owns and operates 12 hotels in Las Vegas. They include: MGM Grand, Bellagio, Aria, Vdara, Mandala Bay, Delano, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur, and Circus Circus. For information on all their resorts you can visit www.mgmresorts.com)

With 5,033 guest rooms, including 751 suites, the MGM Grand is mind-boggling in size. The hotel, which consists of four 30-story towers, occupies one of the most prized plots of land - the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard - in the city. It also boasts the largest casino in Las Vegas with over 170,000 square feet of gaming space. To give you an idea, there are more than 2,500 slot machines and over 150 table games in the casino.

The hotel also boasts a 380,000 square foot state-of-the-art conference center, 22 restaurants, a 16,800-seat arena (they have hosted acts such as U2, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, and many more), as well as the largest bronze statue in the United States. The 100,000-pound bronze lion that guards the front entrance to the casino sits on a 25-foot pedestal and reaches 45-feet high.

With all those over-the-top numbers, you'd think the number of golf courses owned by MGM would also be an eye-popper. Shockingly, it's not. They own just one. Of course, for anyone who has ever heard of Shadow Creek - or, better yet, made divots on the hallowed grounds - this is "one" course with the beauty and charm of a 100.

But before we wax too poetically of Shadow Creek's many virtues, there are other courses in the area that guests of the MGM Grand should consider playing. For example, MGM's corporate partnership with Walters Golf is certainly worth noting. Guests of MGM-owned hotels are entitled to various packages and promotions, which can equate to more bets at the tables! The two courses owned by Walters Golf - Bali Hai and Royal Links - are also two of the top "upscale" tracks in the city.

Located right on the strip and just a few minutes by cab from MGM Grand, Bali Hai captures the Vegas golf scene with all the glitz and glamour you might expect. But, then again, this is Las Vegas, so one always has to expect the unexpected!

While the soaring hotels on the strip provide the backdrop on many holes, it's the gorgeous white-sand bunkers, the plants and palm trees that pepper the property, and the pristine water features that really give it character. Its distinct South Pacific look is unmistakable and, certainly, a trademark of the Brian Curley-designed course.

True to the Vegas mantra, there are a number of holes that should satisfy the risk/reward "gamblers" who come to play. The 16th, for example, an island green hole of striking "Balinese" beauty, is always a blast. When the pin is tucked back right you're certainly rolling the dice by going for it. The 9th, another great par-3, also invokes the "are you feeling lucky?" question. Going pin hunting can be a precarious proposition. Of course, this town was founded on the "going for it" principle so, let's be honest, you should try to attain "hero" status on every shot!

Flirting with flags - and nasty pot bunkers, knee-high fescue, and historic rock walls - is also part of the equation at Royal Links. A replica course inspired by many of the best golf holes on the British Open Championship rota (think St. Andrews, Troon, Carnoustie, Royal Liverpool, etc.), Royal Links serves up an old-world golf experience unlike anything else in Las Vegas.

The ultimate gamble here is on the 10th, which is a very cool take on, arguably, the most famous hole in all of golf, the 17th, or "Road Hole," at St. Andrews. How much of the corner do you want to cut off? What are you willing to risk? The choice is yours!

Another choice - mind you, it's a $500 one! - you need to make is whether or not to play Shadow Creek. Only guests of MGM Resort hotels are able to gain access and the rule is strictly adhered to. However, I'll cut right to the chase: if you're an MGM guest and you appreciate top-notch golf...play it! It will not disappoint. In fact, it will exceed all your expectations. It's that good.

A legend in its own time, Shadow Creek is one of those ultra-rare courses that words and accolades just can't quite do justice to. It really - from the limo ride there and back - has to be experienced to be appreciated and understood.

A Tom Fazio design that was built with an unlimited budget, Shadow Creek is spectacular from start to finish. It's one postcard-perfect hole after another. And, certainly, golfers who like to "go for broke" are going to fall in love with the place, especially the par-5 closer. A water-framed hole of incredible beauty, this par-5 captures all the strategy, drama, and risk/reward options that you might expect. But, then, again, this is Vegas we are talking about.

For more information visit www.shadowcreek.com, www.waltersgolf.com, and www.mgmgrand.com.

Andrew Penner is a freelance writer and photographer based in Calgary, Alberta. You can visit him at www.andrewpenner.com.

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Melfort Golf and Country Club
- A thinking man's course

By George Bowditch, Sask. Golfer

Located on the south side of the town of Melfort, the Melfort Golf and Country Club will challenge to play to the top of your game. The course appears to be flat and relatively wide open with little trouble so it should be a piece of "cake" to play. However a little thought is paramount if you want to score low.

Once you get the opportunity to play the Melfort Golf and Country Club, a public championship golf course with a fully stocked pro shop, excellent restaurant and spacious lounge you will find that your first impressions were wrong and the only thing wide open will be your eyes. This 18-hole gem is a very good test of any golfer's skill.

The par-72, 6580 yard layout has three tee boxes on each hole to ensure every golfer can enjoy playing to their ability without feeling over-matched.

A large water hazard that runs through the centre of the golf course presents a challenge to golfers on numerous holes. The biggest challenge, though, are the small relatively hard to hit and hard to hold greens. While the greens roll true, you must figure out their many breaks as the greens are not flat. Trees will catch your errant shots as will the well placed sand traps that are present around the course. Again, good placement of shots is important so choose the right club.

The course record is 62 so as you can see the course will give you a fair test of your game.

Led by General Manager Kevin Ryhorchuk, you will find the staff at the Melfort Golf and Country Club very willing to help make your visit to the golf course a memorable one. The can handle all your group functions and tournament needs.

The Golf and Country Club General Manager explains that the proper club selection is needed to get your ball in scoring position.

"The 17th Hole would be the signature Hole; it's a Par 3 that measure 216 from the back tees and usually plays into a prevailing head wind. You have to carry it over water to a big green and you don't want to be above the hole so choosing the right club is a must." explained Ryhorchuk.

Their fully stocked pro shop will take care of any your golfing needs whether you need a cart for your round, a new set of club or balls and tees. Their prices are excellent and they will match up with any golf shop around. Also, if they don't have what you need, they will do their best to get it for you! You can't ask for anything more than that.

The Melfort Golf and Country Club has a very spacious driving range on which you can warm up on and hone your skills. The range is well marked with yardage markers and target for you to aim at. If you feel you need a lesson, the staff at the pro shop will be happy to arrange one for you.

The restaurant and lounge are waiting to satisfy your cravings whether it is for a breakfast before your round or lunch or a delicious supper meal. You don't have to be a golfer to come out to the Melfort Golf and Country Club and enjoy their great meals. You are welcome.

Once you have had the opportunity to experience what the Melfort Golf and Country Club has to offer, you will no doubt realize that yes indeed first appearances can be deceiving! Play it once and you will want to come back time and time again....with you thinking cap firmly attached.

he Willows - More than just golf...all year round!
he Willows - More than just golf...all year round!
he Willows - More than just golf...all year round!
he Willows - More than just golf...all year round!
he Willows - More than just golf...all year round!
he Willows - More than just golf...all year round!

The Willows - More than just golf...all year round!

Saskatchewan's premiere semi-private golf course is a rolling dunes-style course structured around 22 beautiful lakes and 150 sand bunkers. Golfers are treated to one beautiful scene after another amongst its strategically placed trees, ponds and bunkers.

The Willows is for everyone. Whether you are a junior on the course for the first time, a beginner seeking lessons or a seasoned golfer, The Willows course challenges both novice and accomplished golfers alike.

The driving range offers seven target greens and a fairway practice bunker. The putting green is perfect for warming up and fine tuning the putter before a round, while their wildly contoured practice green allows for fun and challenging chipping and bunker practice. "We have great practice facilities for golfers to improve their game," says Guy Beatty.

The golf course, which opens for golf at 6:00 am each morning during the summer, has senior rates for people 60 plus, early bird rates, junior rates and twilight specials, plus customized membership options. New for this year is a twilight membership and junior membership rates have been reduced. Power carts, pull carts and club rentals are also available. The Visage GPS system on the Club Car, 140 unit cart fleet, gives instant yardages to the pins, along with hole maps and pro tips to help play each hole.

The Canadian Professional Golfers Association of Saskatchewan named The Willows the Facility of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. This is an impressive "four-peat", especially considering all of the great competition from other quality golf operations. The award was won previously in 2006.

"The Willows is the premiere tournament and special event host facility in the province," says general manager Guy Beatty of his course that has hosted four Canadian tour events, and numerous provincial golf championships over the years.

"The banquet facilities, from casual barbecues at The Red Barn, to elegant meals in one of our spacious banquet rooms, are second to none. They all come with an abundance of windows each framing a spectacular view of the golf course, in all four seasons."

Whether it be for a wedding, special event, team building seminar or convention The Willows delivers. Only eight minutes from downtown, the Willows offers an excellent alternative for business meetings, with ample parking, fantastic menu options and accommodating facilities plus the great views of the course.

The "Il Salici Ristorante" offers "classic Italian with a modern twist," says Beatty, and is home to a seasonally updated menu with many of the same great Italian classics that have been enjoyed over the past years, with a few new additions each season. Il Salici Ristorante boasts spectacular views from every seat and a warm, inviting atmosphere. It's the perfect setting to discover great Italian food. You'll enjoy authentic Italian dishes and receive friendly, professional service.

Friday and Saturday nights feature Martin Janovsky, an acclaimed composer and pianist, providing the perfect atmosphere for that date night or night out with friends with live piano musings. Sunday brunch features live piano music as well, and offers the opportunity to spend time with family and friends in a pristine setting. With the dining room and lounge open year round, you can book a table online at willowsgolf.com.

"People sometimes come out here for a bite to eat and a cocktail, to socialize or to just enjoy the sunshine or beautiful sunsets settling over the golf course at dusk," says Beatty.

The Willows is home to one of the "top golf shops in the county," says Beatty, "offering top lines, all the latest in equipment, apparel and accessories in the industry."

With a goal to provide the highest quality in golf apparel at affordable prices, you'll find the latest fashions from Travis Matthew Golf Apparel, UnderArmour, Oakley, Ecco, Nike, as well as premium lines of golf equipment by Callaway, Titleist, TaylorMade, and Ping, travel gear and luggage by Projekt, along with many other lines which can be personally fitted and ordered on request.

The Willows Golf and Country Club is located on Cartwright Street, west of Clarence Avenue and the public is welcome. For more information about their nine and 18 hole rates and their dress code, etiquette, tips on technique and other amenities, including additional membership information, please check their website at www.willowsgolf. com or for tee times call 306-956-Golf (4653).


The Links of North Dakota

Flowing Springs

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Golfers Are Always Rewarded in the Thompson Okanagan

By Andrew Penner

It's just 250 yards to the front edge and the wind is helping. True, I've been spraying it all over the planet, but I've got the firepower. My foursome is egging me on. My adrenaline is flowing. A lay-up with a "chicken stick" is not an option. I take the headcover off my driver and there are smiles (and smirks) all around. Will my risk be rewarded? Who cares? We're in the Thompson Okanagan. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. The orchards are in full bloom. And, truth be told, we were rewarded the moment we teed off.

Well designed golf courses invite you to go for broke. To take chances. To take out the big stick when common sense says otherwise. After all, you only live once. May as well live life to the fullest. At least, that's what I usually tell myself just before making a triple.

For golfers playing in the Thompson Okanagan, the pain of poorly-timed triples (is there ever a good time?) is tempered by experiencing some of the finest golf courses in the country. Unquestionably, this region of world-class golf is satisfying on every front...regardless of how may "others" you pencil on the card.

With over 30 championship-calibre golf courses to choose from in the Thompson Okanagan, there is no shortage of places to play. From high-in-the-hills stunners to lakeside charmers, there is plenty of variety as well. Whether it's Kamloops or Kelowna, Oliver or Osoyoos, the sun-soaked brand of golf here - together with the vineyards, the orchards, and the lakes - makes for one of Canada's most popular and recognizable golf destinations. And, if you love to play with a little go-for-broke swagger, rest assured, there are ample opportunities.

At Predator Ridge, for example, which features two super-scenic courses that tumble and roll in the arid hills near Vernon, golfers can throw caution to the wind and try to be a hero on numerous occasions. The Doug Carrick-designed Ridge Course, which SCOREGolf Magazine awarded the Best New Canadian Course in 2010, features three reachable par-5s and a drivable par-4.

Like most reachable par-4s, the 16th on the Ridge Course epitomizes what a risk/reward hole is all about. The downhill 298-yard par-4 (the direct line to the green is approximately 250 yards) is fraught with danger. A large, ball-hungry pond protects the front of the narrow green so any attempt to go for it must be hammered high in the air and struck perfectly. Of course, a bail out right and short is always there for the taking. So, yes, hitting a "chicken stick" - say a 5-iron - might be the prudent thing to do to take the water out of play. But, come on, where is the fun in that!

With numerous accolades and awards over the years, Predator Ridge is certainly a must-play in the Thompson Okanagan. The luxurious course-side accommodation, the world-class practice facility, the fitness center, and the restaurants and patios overlooking the action all add to the allure.

Another awesome benchland course in the Vernon area is The Rise. Designed by Gene Bates and Fred Couples and opened in 2008, The Rise careens through a variety of natural settings, including dense pine forests, wetlands, and vast, sage-covered bluffs that serve up stunning Okanagan views. In fact, if panoramic vistas are your thing, The Rise is the Okanagan's trump card.

And, for edge-of-your-seat drama when it comes to "risky" shot making, The Rise also accommodates. The 13th is a great go-for-the-green par-4 that also features an incredible lake and mountain backdrop. At just 280 yards and with the hidden green sitting well below the fairway, even medium-length hitters have a shot at it. The same can also be said for the 9th, a 480-yard par-5 that swoops down the hill. The perfect plan here involves a solid drive, a laser-straight hybrid down the hill, and a tap-in for eagle. Regardless of whether your heroic plan comes to fruition or not, a photo capturing the spine-tingling backdrop is absolutely required!

For its sheer visual and photogenic appeal, Tobiano, a challenging Thomas McBroom design located high above Kamloops Lake, should also be high on your list of places to play. This is one of those rare courses where choosing a signature hole would be an extremely difficult proposition. However, if we're talking risk/reward holes, it doesn't get much better than the par-5 8th. This unique par-5 - it cruises along the edge of the bluff in eye-popping fashion - will entice you on the tee shot (clearing the ravine is a must!) and again on the approach (right is dead!).

The hole previous, the diabolical 7th, is an all-or-nothing par-3 with a green hanging on a precarious perch with drop-offs all around. Ever get nervous over the ball? Guaranteed, your knees will be knocking here! Unquestionably, there are many such "nervy" shots at Tobiano that will test your bravado. But, at the end of the day, and regardless of how satisfied you are with your score, this is one of the most impressive courses in Canada and an opportunity to play it should not be passed up. SCOREGolf Magazine, Canada's highest read golf publication, ranks it the number one public golf course in British Columbia.

Other excellent courses in the Kamloops region include Sun Rivers, The Dunes, Sun Peaks, Rivershore, and the Kamloops Golf & Country Club. A different course every day for a week in the Kamloops area is not a bad call!

Another Thomas McBroom design that has turned plenty of heads since it opened in 2007 is Tower Ranch in Kelowna. The course features significant elevation changes, gorgeous views, and an exciting collection of golf holes, including one of the best finishing runs in the province. The first two holes plunge down the hillside and the second, a medium-length par-5, is a great early-round "gambler."" If you can blast your tee shot down the left center it will run forever, affording you an opportunity to hit the green in two. But be warned: a poorly struck approach will likely find a watery grave. Tower Ranch, thanks in part to its sweet finish on an exposed hillside, was recently voted the number one course in Kelowna by members of the British Columbia PGA.

While Kelowna's golf scene is certainly hot - other great tracks in this area include Sunset Ranch, The Okanagan Golf Club, Gallagher's Canyon, Kelowna Springs, and The Harvest Club - there are other mini destinations within the Thompson Okanagan that also pack some heat! Take the south Okanagan, for example. Home to Canada's only true desert, the Osoyoos area is a little slice of heaven for golfers.

The Osoyoos Golf Club - a 36-hole semi-private facility - is a great place to start. Thanks to its warm climate, this area boasts one of the longest playing seasons in Canada. They often start their season in February and go well into November. Not bad for "The Great White North!" Other courses worth playing in this area include Nk'Mip Canyon and Fairview Mountain. Both are staged in beautiful natural settings and surrounded by some of the prettiest vineyards in British Columbia. (Golf and wine pair well together.)

Another region within the Thompson Okanagan that's always a go-to spot for birdies, beaching, and boating is the Shuswap. Although known for being "The Houseboat Capital of Canada," the Shuswap is certainly a tidy little place to do some swinging. Talking Rock, located near Chase, is a gorgeous lakeside crusade that features isolated, tree-lined holes and plenty of photo-ops throughout. There's always a "risk" when you play the par-3 15th. It's one of the most picturesque holes in British Columbia. However, if you miss the green, your "reward" will be an extremely difficult up and down. Thankfully, the finishing run here, which includes a reachable par-5 and a drivable par-4, offers daredevils another chance at redemption.

As for rolling the dice on other courses, the Salmon Arm Golf Club, easily one of the best parkland layouts in Canada, finishes with a beautiful par-5 that epitomizes what the adventurous brand of golf in the Thompson Okanagan is all about. The picturesque hole - it sneaks down the hill and features a kidney-shaped green protected by sand and water - dares you to put it all on the line by going pin-hunting. What will you do? What's the sensible thing? Hopefully this little morsel will help you make up your mind: everyone who tees it up in the Thompson Okanagan has already been rewarded. So swing away, my friend. Swing away.


Greebryre Golf Resort