The Ranch G&CC offers a pleasurable round to all despite skill levels
By Gord Montgomery
Considering The Ranch Golf & Country Club was once a stop on the Canadian Tour, and could put some hurt on professional golfers, it’s done an about-face in now becoming a place where anyone, and everyone, can play and enjoy their day.
Head Professional Shaun Piercey pointed out that while the course, located just west of the Edmonton city limits on Highway 16A, was very penal towards the pros, it has been softened for the general public in order to ensure they have a memorable day while motoring around this scenic rural layout.
Opened in 1989, The Ranch is a fun test that runs from a links style into parkland and then tosses in a few trees, along with some other interesting obstacles, to make a round most enjoyable. And best of all, it’s challenging without being over the top tough.
“We’re not overly long, but definitely a challenging course,” the pro said. “We were once ranked the number two public golf course in Edmonton by Score magazine and number 14 in Alberta.”
As to those Canadian PGA Tour events, Piercey noted, “The reality is the golf course was set up extremely tough for those events. The rough was super high. If we really wanted, we could make The Ranch have teeth on demand, but to be honest, we’ve been a little more conscious of getting some more friendly cutting on the golf course for a little more margin of error. The last thing anyone wants to do is pay their green fee and then get killed by the golf course.”
With that in mind, the fun starts right off the get-go here, with a tee shot from the top of a hill that has to carry a water hazard down below. Once you’ve cleared that hazard it’s then an uphill shot to the green. The second is a par 5 that lets you air things out a bit, followed by a little uphill par 3 and then a fun, downhill par 4 which, while not long, demands an accurate approach shot into the green.
Piercey then pointed out one of the more interesting, unique holes on the course, the fifth, that is another short par 4 but not easy by any stretch. “Number five we nicknamed The Pit Hole. A very memorable hole for people that play here; they get to see how deep that crater is. From what we know, that was naturally there and it makes the hole tough, especially if you get down there,” where the bottom is roughly 100 feet below the green, which slants back to front.
There are some other fun holes out here including the final three on the home stretch, which could be ranked among the toughest finishing holes in the Edmonton golf market. The 16th is a downhill tee shot toward a lake where the landing area beside it is quite narrow; the penultimate hole is a par 3 with the tee shot across the same body of water, and then the home hole is a dandy par 4 with a split fairway around another huge water hazard.
“You get to 15 and things might be going pretty good, but then you get to 16 where most of the water on the course is,” said Piercey. “If you can get through those three holes at par, or one over par, then you’ve done really, really well. They force you to be quite focused.”
While that scenario maybe scares some people, don’t let it keep you from teeing it up at The Ranch. This is a fun track and you can say, when you’re finished, that you’ve played a course where the pros played … although your score may not be comparable to what they carded.
The thing is, with a wealth of tee boxes here, anyone can come out and have fun on this course and with a new idea in play, that means anyone.
“We’ve taken into account the mood of the public, just dialled it back a bit, to make the course, I wouldn’t say easier but just a little less difficult. What we did was add some beginner tees at the start of our fairways. We had quite a few people play those and enjoy them because they’re ahead of the trouble.
“We’re in that mindset right now that the game is struggling to grow and people don’t have a lot of time to play, so we’re trying to do those things that are becoming trends in the industry, that are helping people enjoy the game more,” and that idea starts at The Ranch where the pros once played.
This summer will be a great time to take advantage of some special tee time offerings at The Ranch and try out the track if you haven’t already done so. Or, make a long-planned return to this fun golf course. Piercey noted that they’re trying to fill in some slow times, especially during July when festivals take centre stage in Edmonton, so they’ve teamed up with Play Golf Alberta to entice the public to take advantage of some good rates.
“We’ll pick some days where we have a little more vacancy to get some more people playing out here,” he explained. Green fees at The Ranch include your tee time, range balls and GPS-enabled carts. “We’ve always prided ourselves on being high in value,” said Piercey. “Compared to our competition we feel we’re priced really, really well.”
For online tee time bookings, go to www.playgolfalberta.com.