Golf balls are not the only things flying by

Be entertained by a mini-air show as Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake 4 Wing fighter jet aircraft outnumber birds in the sky and birdies on the golf course

by Nowell Berg
18th Green and  Club House at Cold Lake course.
18th Green and Club House at Cold Lake course. — Photo Courtesy of Cold Lake Golf & Winter Club

Playing the Cold Lake Golf and Winter Club is a challenge due to its small greens and narrow fairways. Some days you'll be treated to a mini-air show with Canadian military jet aircraft flying above. “The skies can be pretty busy,” said Ryan Vaughan, head golf pro at the club.

The course is located right next to Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Alberta, and 4 Wing Cold Lake, the busiest fighter base in Canada. Cold Lake is 300 kilometres northeast of Edmonton where two squadrons of top-gun pilots prowl the skies in CF-18 jet fighters.

In Cold Lake, the 18-hole championship course runs par 72 over 6,800 yards, and features water hazards, sand bunkers and polo grass on the greens. The course was designed by Justin Cider Design.

The pro shop carries a full range of equipment, clothing and accessories. Vaughan's team of instructors provide golf lessons for individuals or groups, along with junior classes.

The clubhouse has a full-service lounge and restaurant with great homemade food. Summer hours are sun-up to sundown.

The big golf event this year is the Northern Alberta Ronald McDonald House Charity Tournament on June 20, when 144 golfers tee off in support of this great cause. Many other tournaments will keep you busy all summer long.

In September, be sure to take in the annual Swing & Sweep event. Golf and curling come together in one tournament—who knew!

According to Vaughan, the signature holes on the course are holes 9 and 10. Each are par 4 and are “the toughest holes to play.”

The ninth hole is a dogleg right with a water hazard in front of the green. On this par 4, Vaughan suggests laying the ball up at around 180 yards, as any shorter the ball will roll down into a creek. A narrow green with the clubhouse behind can pose problems on the approach. Keep the ball up in the air so it drops onto the green.

The par-4 10th hole is a tight, narrow fairway with a dogleg left at 180 yards. Again the green is long and narrow. Vaughan recommends the tee shot should “lay up quite a ways back [from the dogleg] or else you’re just playing with angles.”

Vaughan stresses the need to “position your ball well and make a quality second shot” on both of these holes.

If challenging golf and jet aircraft performing aerial dog fights aren't enough to make the trip to Cold Lake, then there is the wildlife viewing. You're just as apt to see fox, deer, moose and bear as you are a CF-18.

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