Kimberley BC – A summer golf oasis

You can also read this story on the Calgary Herald

I live on “Mountain Standard Time”, literally, and whenever I can, figuratively too.  Getting onto “Mountain Time” is easier than you think: it’s not just a place, but a state of mind. On a recent golf trip to Kimberley, BC, we sank into Mountain Time before our vehicle even rolled into town.

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Unanticipated summer construction on the highway had delayed our arrival, and watching the clock with alarm as we crossed the Alberta/BC border, we called Bootleg Gap, where we had a scheduled twilight tee time that evening. “I’m so sorry,” I blurted, explaining there was no way that our foursome we would make our 6:08 tee time due to the road delays. “No problem,” was the quick reply back, “We’ll see you when you get here. It’s light out until around 9:30 these days, so you should still be able to get in nine.”

That was it – no re-arranging between other foursomes, re-scheduling, cancelling or rushing. “See you when you get here” is the epitomy of being on Mountain Time.

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The joys (and pains) of navigating mountainside golf courses include their dramatic elevation changes, natural elements and constant surprises that will always leave you guessing. There are three such golf courses within the city limits of Kimberley, BC, nestled in the east Kootenays. Often celebrated as a winter ski destination, Kimberley is gaining respect as a four-season city whose recreation should be taken seriously.

 

Mountain and hiking trails weave throughout town before winding their way up and down the surrounding parks, hills and mountain slopes. Natural hot springs beckon up wide logging roads, mountain lakes and streams provide a place to pull out your lure or enjoy a refreshing escape from the heat. Summer markets beckon with local goods and fresh-picked BC fruit, and sunny patios invite you to rest your weary feet and indulge in local food and beer.

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Let’s face it – Kimberley is no longer Fernie’s forgotten little sister – and locals would argue it never has been. Its laid-back culture and friendly vibe means it’s firmly planted in “Mountain Standard Time”. Local festivals are a weekly occurrence in the area, including Kimberley’s own “First Saturday” which is celebrated on the first weekend of every summer month with races, breakfasts, concerts, special events and more.

A quick check-in at the mountainside Trickle Creek Lodge gave us all the comforts of home and more. A kitchen, living room area and a sunny balcony is featured in every room, with rooms ranging from studios to two-bedroom. Back in the car, a left, and a right, and ten minutes later we were checking in at Bootleg Gap.

Teeing off at Bootleg Gap in Kimberley BC - P Worthington-8644

The lingering smoke in the valley combined with a spectacular summer sunset added to the dramatic views on the course, which sits above, and then swoops down beside, the St. Mary’s River, making you feel a world away. What sounded like the hum of highway traffic was actually the rapids of the St. Mary’s River, and just when you think you’re headed back to the civilization of the clubhouse, you’re delightfully whisked back to the woods for the next tee. Our twilight round was rewarded with a hearty late dinner at the popular Pedal & Tap in downtown Kimberley, its nod to bike culture and all things local evident in the bicycle décor and giant BC-brewed beer selection boards.

Gorgeous views on hole 11 at Trickle Creek in Kimberley BC - P Worthington-8660

It was no surprise to be woken by brilliant blue skies the following morning – Kimberley has the privilege of being one of the sunniest cities in Canada. Our skills were tested at the signature Les Furber designed Trickle Creek Golf Course located slopeside at Kimberley Alpine Resort. There’s more sand than an ocean beach, and in some ways, golfing here is like learning the game all over again. Its signature hole 11 offers a stunning elevationdrop from the tee to the green, the peaks of the Steeples range casually observing your every move in the distance.

As expected, the course dealt our foursome its share of triumphs and woes, and quickly became our favourite of the weekend. The ladies’ forward tees certainly make Trickle Creek much more approachable, so even intermediate players can enjoy this course.

Deer greet golfers on signature hole 11 at Trickle Creek in Kimberley BC - P Worthington-8656

Ravenous appetites were quickly quieted by an evening at the Bauernhaus – a converted barn house that was built in Germany in the 1600s, then packed and re-purposed into a traditional German restaurant. Focusing on local ingredients and following the slow food movement, the Bauernhaus Feast is a must-try for any group. Dishes are served family style, and the courses are fresh and unforgettable.

Kimberley Golf Club has a traditional feel, and rightfully so, it’s been around since the 1924. Also located along the St. Mary’s River, don’t let its wider fairways fool you: while it may have fewer bunkers and surprises than Trickle and Bootleg, this course still offers its share of excitement. This would be the perfect course to start or finish a golf getaway to the Kimberley area.

Teeing off at the classic Kimberley Golf Club in Kimberley BC - P Worthington-8669

And while we stayed true to being on time for the rest of our tee times, it is so easy to settle into “Mountain Standard Time” in Kimberley. It’s sipping that second cup of morning coffee on the deck, watching the evening sun slide behind the mountains while feasting in a quiet mountain garden, and seeing how many times you can say “just five minutes longer” on a bustling pub patio.

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