Motorists, those who tend to daydream about another kind of driving, have been monitoring the progress on their commute.
On Wednesday, as they whizzed past on Deerfoot Trail, they were treated to a welcome sight — for the first time since the tail-end of last summer, there were golfers hitting shots on two of the standout holes at city-run Maple Ridge.
You can bet some immediately make hands-free calls to their favorite foursome, looking to arrange a round for the upcoming long weekend.
“There’s a lot of excitement,” said John Faber, the City of Calgary’s golf lead. “Our loyal customers, they have been chomping at the bit to get out there. The two holes look fantastic from Deerfoot Trail. People see it but can’t get out there and play, I think it’s just created that much more eagerness.”
Their loyal customers won’t be disappointed with the changes, which were necessary by the widening of the interchange at Deerfoot Trail and Southland Drive. Calgary-based course architect Wade Horrocks aced the redesign.
The 13th has always been the signature assignment at this busy public hangout, a dandy downhiller that offers a panoramic view of the southeast quadrant of the city.
This remains a daunting shot after the renos — depending on your tee-box of choice, you’ll be scoping between 127-223 yards — but you won’t have to worry about dodging the bunker that was previously located just short and right of the dance-floor. That sand-trap, about as enjoyable as rush-hour traffic, has been removed. There’s a bit of beach on the left, but that doesn’t interfere with the kicker slope. In fact, aiming a smidge right might now be a wise strategy.
As Jeff Babich, the senior superintendent for the City of Calgary’s five golf properties, summed up: “It was a neat hole before, with the elevation change. But for anyone who doesn’t hit it long, it was just an automatic bunker.”
“I think No. 13 is a better golf hole now,” Faber echoed. “It’s much more receptive for the higher handicap players. They’re not being penalized because they can’t airmail it to the green.
“That was a nasty bunker. And for a large number of our clientele, that was just a really, really tough shot. And now everyone can be rewarded for a good shot. It doesn’t have to be a great shot.”
If you manage to drain a birdie putt on No. 13, the challenge is to avoid giving that shot back as you turn and climb the hill on the next hole.
Prior to the redesign, No. 14 was a Par-5. The tee-boxes had to be bumped forward — and the fairway realigned — to accommodate that future roadwork, so this now plays as a demanding Par-4, tipping out at 426 yards and with the elevation and often the wind working against you.
It’ll take two good pokes to reach the green. For many of us, a bogey wouldn’t be a bad result. That was, at least, what I told myself after pushing a par putt on Wednesday morning.
Then again, I have nothing to complain about. I could have been just daydreaming about golf as I was motored by. Who doesn’t prefer the fairway to the highway?
If you have clubs rattling around in your trunk, perhaps a few loose tees in the cup-holder, and you have only sized up Maple Ridge at 100 km/h, it’s time to pull over and see why this is such a popular play.
The $63 peak rate is mighty appealing and the 6,500-yard layout is equal parts charming and challenging. Among the highlights that you can’t spy from Deerfoot Trail, both the eighth and ninth holes are beauties.
There’s an old myth that a trip to a muni will mean slow greens and shaggy conditions but Faber, Babich & Co. are proving otherwise with steady improvements in the City of Calgary’s offerings — a list that also includes Confederation Park, Lakeview, McCall Lake and Shaganappi Point.
“It’s a quality golf course that is very affordable, very accessible,” Faber said of Maple Ridge. “And it’s a place where you can just have a lot of fun. You don’t have to be a low handicapper. There’s a variety of shot-making — bump-and-runs, fly it in … Everything is there, and for all skill levels.
“Every time I get out here, I’m like, ‘This is so good.’ ”
As of Wednesday, with all 18 holes back in action, it’s even better.
Faber beamed as he surveyed the completed renovation work at Nos. 13 and 14.
“I think it turned out awesome.”
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