Black Mountain revisited

This course keeps your attention

by Dennis Begin

Black Mountain Golf Club is located in Rutland, B.C., (near Kelowna), in a residential area at the base of Black Mountain. Management has taken an innovative approach to the course, saying no to making the course longer and more difficult. Instead, they have replaced distance with narrow fairways, 58 bunkers, doglegs and an island green. The final result is that in 2010, Black Mountain was a finalist as the Best New Course in Canada.

Hole 5 is only 372 yards, but ends with an island green
Black Mountain's signature Hole 5 is a 372 yards and ends in an island green. — Dennis Begin photo

Black Mountain has an interesting configuration, as designed by golf architect Wayne Carleton of Graham, Cook and Associates (GCA). This firm has also designed other B.C. courses, such as Crown Isle in Courtney, the Dunes in Kamloops and Talking Rock near Chase. The philosophy of GCA is to build a course that is enjoyed equally by all golfers, thanks to six sets of tees, yet preserves the natural features of the landscape. As a result, the front nine was carved out of the mountains along with the ponds and creek on holes 4 through 9. The back nine, on the other hand, represents the minimalist philosophy of course construction, with little dirt moved to create the holes. The final result was a configuration of six par 3s, five par 5s and seven par 4s, for a total of par 71. The back gold tees, at only 6,408 yards for men and 5,232 yards for women, are a nice comfortable length for most golfers.

Hole #8, Par 5. Club House in background
The par 5 Hole 8 with the Black Mountain clubhouse in the background. — Dennis Begin photo

The front nine from the gold tees

The front nine is harder than the back nine, especially holes 4 through 8. The first hole climbs up the mountainside to a sloping, difficult green. The second and third holes run along the mountain, with the second hole the number one handicap hole. The narrow 4th hole drops down into the valley from the highest point on the course. Hole 5 is only 372 yards, but ends with an island green—the only one in the Okanagan. It is necessary to be long off the tee and precise to the green to score well on this signature hole. 

Holes 6 through 8 horseshoe around Black Mountain Creek and some ponds. The holes are narrow and well trapped, with elevated greens, and the only friendly thing are the little marmots.  Holes 6 and 8 are the only true risk-and-reward holes, bringing water into play on the second shots. To finish off the mountain section, the 9th hole is 215 yards, all uphill, and guarded by rocks and a front trap. The key to playing well on the front nine is good course management, with the birdie holes yet to come. 

Marmots the only thing friendly of 6th hole
Marmots are the only friendly thing about the 6th Hole. — Dennis Begin photo

The back nine

The back nine plays a little easier than the front nine. The 10th hole is wide open, so grip it and rip it and play for a birdie. Hole 11 is a nice par 3 of 182 yards over the gully to a large back-to-front sloping green. The 12th is the only hole that seems out of character, as it crawls out of the gully with a dogleg right. Starting with the 13th hole, the course is cut out of the forest, with traditional tree-lined fairways and plenty of bunkers. The two par 3s are very long and challenging, with hole 13 at 234 yards and requiring a high fade to hit the green. The 17th hole is 219 yards, and anything left of the green disappears into the gully forever. The final hole is a good finishing par 5 hole of 501 yards, with the gully running along the entire left side and the green heavily bunkered.  

Hole #1, Par 4. Houses in background part of Melcor Developments. Photo courtesy of Black Mountain Golf Club
The par-4 first hole with real estate development i the background. — photo courtesy of Black Mountain

Black Mountain is not a championship PGA tournament course, but is a good challenge for average- to low-handicap golfers. This course keeps your attention. It is necessary to keep the ball straight, hit the elevated greens and putt well on undulating greens. With a course rating of only 70.4 and a slope of 125 from the back tees, the course appears easy—but it is not.
After the round, enjoy the outdoor patio and view Black Mountain from a different perspective.

Hole #4,Par 3, Photo courtesy of Black Mountain Golf Club
The hilly par-3 Hole 4. — photo courtesy of Black Mountain

Latest comments

GolfWest QuickLinks