The Kootenays may not be first on most peoples list of places to visit but that needs to change for the golf traveler. With 5 courses in the Score Golf Top 59 Public Course within about a 1 hour drive of Cranbrook, and several other courses in the area that have received accolades and awards, this is what I would call the “Hidden Gem Golf Trip” for the true golfer – and it is great value.
In the Windermere / Panorama area, Greywolf cracks the top 5 of the ranking with Copper Point, and Eagle Ranch also in the same area and is worth the 1.5hr or so drive from Cranbrook. In the actual Cranbrook area you have Shadow Mountain and Wildstone, both ranked in the Top 59, plus Trickle Creek, Bootleg Gap and St Eugene, all strong championship courses that have received many accolades, all within a very short drive.
So why not stay up in the Windermere area? Well, the accommodations are not to strong in the area unless you are a couple, willing to upgrade to a suite or are looking at single occupancy rooms. In that case, you can stay at the Copper Point Resort which is a great resort but has only has rooms with queen or king beds – no twin accommodations at all until you get to the 2 bedroom suites (and each of those bedrooms is a single bed only). Other than that resort you are looking at condo rentals at Panorama or basic hotel accommodations.
In Cranbrook, you have the St Eugene Resort and Casino. While not the most deluxe accommodations you will ever stay in, the rooms are comfortable, the amenities are good (pools, hot tubs, fitness rooms etc), and the casino offers evening entertainment (and another chance to win some of the money I have left behind on one of my trips….). It is also centrally located and offers a short drive to not only the great golf in the area (and a short walk to the resort course) but also into Cranbrook proper to enjoy their food and entertainment options.
I have stayed in both Panorama and St Eugene and I have no problem with either. The condos at Panorama are really nice and spacious but the issue there is that Panorama is very much focused on the ski world and there is really not a lot going on in the town at all (there was only 1 restaurant even open when I was there in the month of August). It was just a bit too quiet. St Eugene is a good resort, and Cranbrook is a nice, smallish town, but the location and golf are great, the casino is a nice distraction, and the amenities of the resort are pretty good.
From most parts of Canada or the U.S., Cranbrook requires a connecting flight through either Vancouver or Calgary so it is not the most convenient flight, and as discussed above, the accommodations are only good, not great, but the golf is so outstanding that it is WELL worth effort to take this trip. It is a great itinerary for a group of guys or gals who are good with not having a big nightlife component to the trip but instead plan to hang out with each other (either in the condo or in the casino) and enjoy world class golf at a value price.