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abound. A visit here is mandatory, even if you aren’t staying on the property. It’s difficult to imagine a more sublime setting to have a drink than the Rundle Lounge overlooking the Bow Valley. Stunning geography has a way of


inspiring extraordinary living. The 27-hole Banff Springs routes


around the hotel and along the Bow River under two towering peaks, Sul- phur Mountain and Mount Rundle. It features an original Thompson 18- hole routing that, upon its debut in 1928, was the most expensive course built in the world. It was the first golf course built north of $1 million, as loads of topsoil were imported, and the wilderness had to be tamed. Nine additional holes were eventu-


ally added, and the clubhouse has since moved, but the resort still has days when the original Thompson sequence is played.


This might not matter to some, but to the architectural aficionado, it’s difficult to imagine a more dramatic backdrop to the first and last holes than the Banff Springs Hotel. The eighth hole in that sequence, now No. 4, is called the “Devil’s Caldron,” and it is the one included among Golf magazine’s greatest par 3s. Playing 192 yards over a lake to


a bowl-shaped green with towering Mount Rundle looming behind, the hole is visually spectacular. But as dif- ficult as the hole looks, it plays rather easy. More birdies and holes-in-one are made here than any other one- shotter on the course. But one of the greatest holes in


the world wasn’t even included in the original design. During construction, an avalanche created a small glacial lake. Thompson gladly re-routed the course to take advantage of beau- tiful setting. It was a tribute to the force of Thompson’s personality that the


44 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2015


The Tunnel Mountain hike yields bird’s-eye views of the Banff Springs Hotel Golf Course.


course was even built. The Canadian architect’s masterpiece replaced the resort’s original Donald Ross course, and came close to shutting down dur- ing construction multiple times. But the Toronto native clung to his vision and was able to complete the job, despite the record-setting cost. The course plays shorter than


its 6,938 yards due to its setting at more than 4,500 feet of elevation. But even though I’m able to hit my 9-iron a pro-like 150 yards, precision is still mandatory on the well-protect- ed greens. Post-round, be sure to try the Bow


Valley Grill, with its superb view, or Castello, a satisfying Italian restau- rant, to cap your day. Away from the course, seek out


the Tunnel Mountain hike. The short hike (less than three miles round-trip) yields panoramic views of the town and golf course. It’s a photographer’s delight. Connecting Banff and Jasper is


the Icefields Parkway, also known as Highway 93. Numerous stops along this drive provide one stunning vista after another. Besides Peyto Lake, which is the highest point of the 140-mile Parkway, the Bow Valley


Lake and Columbian Icefield are worthy scenic stops.


A good way station for an afternoon


drink, hike or overnight stay is Lake Louise. Sitting on the outdoor deck of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s Lakeview Lounge gazing at the beauti- ful alpine lake is a truly memorable and relaxing experience. There’s also the five-mile Lake Ag- nes tea house hike. It’s a workout, but the view from the top looking down on the lake and hotel is well worth it, and you can enjoy a cup of tea or a sandwich at the tea house before heading down. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is smaller than its Banff counterpart, but the same grandeur and luxurious sen- sibility prevails. Waking up to a com- manding view of the azure waters of the lake and the towering mountains behind it is unforgettable. A short drive from Lake Louise is


Moraine Lake, one of the Canadian Rockies’ iconic images. When the Fairmont Jasper Park


Lodge golf course debuted in 1925 three years before Banff, it served as a milestone in Canada because it proved a golf course could be constructed in the rugged environment of the Cana- dian Rockies.


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