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Kananaskis closure having negative impact on other clubs

Some might think the flood-induced closure of Kananaskis Country Golf Course was a positive development for Alberta’s other high-end tracks.

Not so, says Ryan Vold, director of golf at Wolf Creek Golf Resort near Ponoka.

“I think it hurts Alberta, personally,” said Vold, describing how golf tourists like to play multiple courses when they hit the road.

“When you get where we’re at, the destination-type golf, you sometimes have to have a cluster of good golf properties.”

The closure of the Mount Kidd and Mount Lorette courses in the Kananaskis Valley following last June’s devastating flood has given out-of-province and out-of-country golfers two fewer reasons to bring their clubs to Alberta.

“The more of us the better,” said Vold.

“When you lose one of the top properties in the province, that doesn’t help you.”

SCOREGolf ranked the Kidd and Lorette courses 44th and 53rd respectively in its most recent listing of the top 100 golf courses in Canada. Wolf Creek was number 17, with all three courses among the top 10 for Alberta.

Because green fees at Kananaskis Country Golf Course were relatively low for a mountain course, and comparable to those at Wolf Creek, many golfers included both Kananaskis and Ponoka on their holiday itineraries. Vold said this was particularly true of Edmonton players, who account for about 40 per cent of Wolf Creek’s business.

“We’d get maybe the first day and then they’re on their way to Kananaskis.”

Immediately after Kananaskis Country Golf Course closed, Wolf Creek was called upon to provide an alternative for displaced golfers who had been counting on the mountain course for group trips and tournaments, said Vold.

“We’re the only other 36-hole public facility in the province, so we were the only thing comparable with the size that could handle events and stuff like that.”

The government of Alberta has yet to confirm its intentions for the Kananaskis courses, which would cost millions of dollars to restore.

Only a handful of the holes there were not damaged by the water.

“I know (Kananaskis Country Golf Course head pro) Bob Paley pretty well, and he sent me some pictures,” said Vold. “It was pretty horrific.”

Wolf Creek suffered its own flood damage several years ago, but the carnage at Kananaskis is on a completely different scale, he said.

“Theirs was just a complete wrecking ball.

“You’re probably looking at a redesign.”

With the associated costs, and current stringent environmental regulations, the challenge could be insurmountable, suggested Vold.

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