RedTail Landing Golf Club offers golf the way it’s meant to be played
by Gord Montgomery
RedTail Golf Club in Edmonton is all about the way golf was meant to be played. After all, the guys who invented the game played in an area of land bereft of much more than sand, wind and a small hole to deposit their golf ball.
That’s what links golf is all about and for those of us who love the challenge of stepping away from the country-club atmosphere of most tracks these days the one place that answers the bell here is RedTail.
The course has been in play for nine years and has built itself a reputation as a true test of your ability, especially when the wind’s up.
Head Golf Professional Josh Davison said his course, designed by the famed Puddicombe family, is set up to resemble its ancestors in Scotland.
“What makes this a true links course,” he noted, “is that it’s very wide open with lots of sand and lots of tall, native grasses.”
What it also features, on every hole, is a way to get your ball to the green by not having to hit it high and thus having the wind affect it – that is, if you’re in the right spot to pull these kinds of shots off.
“All the greens are designed with a roll-up (area). The golf course is made that way to give you that option.”
“It’s very simple; just stay within your game out here,” Davison continued about how to approach his track. “You always want to hit the ball where you can see it. Yes, we have fairly wide fairways but if you miss them, that’s where you get into trouble with the tall native grasses and fescue grasses.”
What one has to realize out here, Davison added, is that the course is challenging enough by itself. You, as a player, don’t have to help it out by thinking you can play from farther back than your handicap suggests and simply try to overpower it because, well, there aren’t many hazards really visible to the eye out here although they do exist.
“We have five tee boxes,” ranging from the front at 5,466 yards to 7,322 imposing yards from the tips. The others boxes are set out at 5,988, 6,470 and 6,730 yards respectively. “You always want to play from the right tee box,” the pro commented.
Jeff Sveen, the owner of Play Golf Alberta and a Class A professional says this course is demanding in every sense.
“’As good as it get’s, bring all your clubs,’ is their slogan and this is so true,” he noted.
“This is one of the best public courses in the Edmonton region and wow, does this course challenge your game. With the wind and this links style course every hole is unique and is very challenging. The Puddicombes have designed a real gem using mounding and bunkers to giving you clear direction for every tee shot.”
To help you out on the course, and elsewhere, RedTail offers a superb, natural grass practice area.
“We do have a 19-acre hitting area,” the club’s head pro pointed out. “I don’t think there’s anything else like this in Western Canada. We have two putting greens, a chipping green, a sand chipping green. It gives you everything you need to get prepared for the game.”
Every hole here is a test but to Davison, and likely the vast majority of players that make the rounds here each season, the toughest hole is the par 5 11th, a 526-yard jolt off the blue tees with a forced carry over a huge water hazard staring you down off the tee.
There are suggested routes on the cart-provided GPS unit, with measurements to each landing point, but that’s really beside the point. First, you have to get the ball up, and over, the water to carry on.
“It’s a no-brainer what our signature hole is,” Davison noted. “We call it Ocean’s 11. The tee ball is that forced carry and then your approach shot is another forced carry over water, so it leaves an impression in the amateur’s mind and the professional’s mind. It’s a good test of golf with great visual features.”
“The things that set us apart from everyone else is the condition of our golf course, the quality of our greens and our overall service,” Davison said about that country-club feel not being overlooked beyond the bounds of the course itself.
To course superintendent Brad Eshpeter, it’s a continual battle for he and his staff to keep this course in the great condition golfers expect at RedTail. That includes both on the greens and in the bunkers.
“It’s important for people to fix ball marks and the rule of thumb is, fix yours and then one more,” he explained. “If you do that, there are no issues.”
Eshpeter went on to say his crew fixes at least 30 to 40 ball marks every day – on every green on the golf course, so you can see why they need the player’s help.
As for the many bunkers that dot this course, they’re being retrofitted, the superintendent noted.
He said the wind at RedTail plays havoc with trying to keep sand in place and if they become a bit scarce of the commodity, people let him know.
“It’s important to stay on top of the bunker issue,” he agreed. “That’s one thing people let you know about and we are addressing that,” by redoing the hazards.
Great food services offered
For Food and Beverage Manager Dean Stefanic, golf course food doesn’t have to be, well, golf course food. He noted RedTail offers an extensive and different eating arrangement for players and after-round eats.
“I like to do things fresh and homemade,” he began, “but also go outside the box and do different things.”
Such ideas include hot sandwiches at the halfway window, where while you can grab fast food you can also eat a bit healthier here.
“Most people just expect a hot dog or smokie. We have golf course fare but we also hot sandwiches like bar-b-que beef or Italian sandwiches. It’s a little something different.”
What is also different is the daily lunch buffets offered here, where a hungry golfer can eat to their heart’s content on daily specials. As well, RedTail caters to tournaments, weddings, and things like company retreats for up 250 people on a year-round basis.
So, to test your game in a style that’s not overly common in today’s golf community, both on the course and in the restaurant, go to www.playgolfalberta.com for a tee time.
About the writer: Gord Montgomery is the sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He has written for Inside Golf for the past four years with the majority of his coverage in north and central Alberta.