Pheasantback golf & Country Club
Wind and water add challenge to the game
Big sky, trees, natural ponds and gentle enhancement of the naturally undulating terrain combine to make playing Pheasantback Golf Club’s course a pleasure for anyone who appreciates nature’s beauty. This is an 18-hole, par-71 course, with a distance of 6,186 yards from the blue, 5,678 from the white and 4,631 from the red. Troy Butterfield achieved the course record of 64 about five years ago.
Thirteen kilometres north of Stettler, Alberta, on Highway 56 North and Highway 601, the club opened in 1995. CPGA pro Greg Risler is on hand to provide an expert’s overview of the game and the course.
“There are only about five holes where trees come into play,” said Risler. “Otherwise the course is quite open, and the wind does figure in the game. It’s a changing feature every time you play.”
In addition to Ladies’ Night Mondays and Men’s Night Thursdays, the club puts on junior camps throughout the summer, as well as its annual Ryder Cup competition—Calgary Flames fans versus Edmonton Oilers fans. This competition is always very well attended—occasionally by hockey celebrities—and gives a healthy boost to the local economy.
Risler has some tips for lovers of the game. “Understand that golf is a risk-reward game, especially here,” he said. “You can be as aggressive as you want, but there are no guarantees. When you have short par 4s, you can take the risk of getting as close to the green as you can—remembering those are usually well protected with bunkers or water—or play smart and just lay up.”
The Pheasantback course has lots of water hazards, and these can be intimidating, especially to beginner golfers.
“We’ve marked our 150s with black and yellow posts as guides,” Risler explained. “There are a lot of blind shots where you can’t see the water but you can see those posts.”
Risler said that the course’s signature hole is the 16th. “You tee off up a hill to a flat area, and then it drops down, with nothing but water between that and the green; that one causes a lot of people some grief.”
Across the road from the golf course, a housing development—to be called Pheasantback Estates—is in the planning stages. “It could be started as early as August, or as late as some time next year,” said Risler. “Nothing has been confirmed.”
The shores of nearby Buffalo Lake are studded with permanent homes and cottages owned by people from Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton; some of these folks are regulars at Pheasantback.
“A lot of our golf events support charities,” Risler commented, “like Tim Hortons Camp Day, the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, KidSport and Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart for kids. We try to attach a cause to our events, and that attracts support from locals and our visitors.”