Black sand bunkers that contrast with white-crested wheat grasses is one distinguishing feature of Coal Creek, built on a former coal mine and scheduled to open June 8.
With its black sand bunkers contrasting with wispy, white-crested wheat grasses, Coal Creek Golf Resort, a new course near Tofield, Alberta, Canada that has been built on a former coal mine and will open for play on June 8, offers a bold layout that has already “propelled the course into the upper echelon in the area,” reports the Edmonton Journal.
“It needed to be special and different from anything else,” Grant Puddicombe, Managing Director of Puddicombe Golf, the Edmonton-based, family-owned and -operated golf design and construction business that built Coal Creek, told the Journal.
“A run-of-the-mill course would not survive in that location, being 45 minutes from Sherwood Park [Alberta, one of the province’s golfing centers],” Puddicombe added.
Being built on a former coal mine has helped to ensure that Coal Creek is anything but “run of the mill,” the Journal reported. As well as the black sand, pieces of earthmoving equipment and the old “tipple,” where mine cars were tipped and emptied of their coal, still line several fairways.
“You really do feel like you are playing on a mine,” said Puddicombe.
Then there is the course itself. Running through three distinct types of golf architecture — quarry, links and woodlands — each hole is distinctive.
“There are no holes even vaguely similar,” said Puddicombe’s father, Sid, President of the golf architectural company. “There is always something new coming up with the next hole.”
Seven years in the making, Coal Creek was ambitious from the outset, given that more than 1-1/2 million cubic yards of dirt had to be moved. “It was a big challenge; a massive undertaking,” said Grant Puddicombe.
With one exception—a course in Japan built on the side of a mountain —Coal Creek ranks as the Puddicombes’ most aggressive undertaking among the more than 100 from-scratch courses that the company has worked on or designed.
“The potential was always there,” Grant Puddicombe said of Coal Creek. “We always knew what it could be. But it has exceeded the expectations of a lot of people.”
One of those people is Jason Rasmuson, the new course’s General Manager.
“It’s a lot better than I expected, and I had high expectations,” Rasmuson told the Journal. “But I never would have dreamt it would turn out this well.
“I don’t want to say it was a joke at first, but it was humorous because, at the outset, we had to reclaim the mine,” Rasmuson added. “We were thinking farmland at first, but then different members of the two families that own the course started saying things like, ‘You know, this piece of land would make a great golf hole.’ Then someone else would say another piece of the property would also make a good golf hole. It just blossomed from there.”
“The owners allowed us to get there,” added Grant Puddicombe. “A lot of the time, owners will hold back—at the end of the day, it is always the almighty dollar that lets you do everything you want. There was no holding back with this project.”
Seven holes were built on what Grant Puddicombe called “the bald-ass prairie,” while the other 11 were constructed on various stages of mining land. Grant Puddicombe suggested that No. 13, a downhill, 208-yard par-3 that has octopus-shaped bunkers lining the front of the green, may be become known as Coal Creek’s “signature hole.”
Each hole has four tee boxes, enabling the course to stretch out to 7,207 yards from the back tees. The front boxes play from 5,384 yards, blues from just under 6,000 yards and silvers from 6,537 yards.
After it opens, Coal Creek will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays to continue work on the course, with only about half of the bunkers currently finished. Green fees will start at $42 (Canadian) from Wednesday to Friday and $54 on weekends. “[It will be the] best value in the Edmonton area. By far,” said Sid Puddicombe.