Bring lots of golf balls. While Crystal Ridge is one of the funnest courses I have played, the course is also one of the most unforgiving. Crystal Ridge Family Golf Centre is a nine-hole championship golf course that forces you to play strategically, unlike more lenient courses that permit golfers to just swing and pray. The old poplar trees, high grass and large bodies of water will ensure any wayward shot will be unrecoverable, even if it bounces only a foot off the fairway into the reeds or long grass.
A short drive south of Calgary to Okotoks, the course is not too far for a short after-work round of golf. They offer both nine-hole rounds and 18-hole rounds of golf — where 18 holes is playing the same nine holes twice.
The course offers few straightforward holes, providing a nice challenge compared to other courses. More than a few golf courses around Calgary only punish a bad shot with sand traps and water traps adjacent to the fairway — just shoot straight and far. The first three holes at Crystal Ridge hide water just beyond the green to catch an overshot golf ball. The fifth hole pinches the shot from the tee between high trees and one of the larger bodies of water. And every hole has a narrow fairway. Precision becomes more important than distance.
In fact there is only a single par five in the entire course — the ninth hole. It feels like each hole slowly sets you up for that long and straight par five. Having gotten through the last eight, the ninth hole is a breeze.
As with some inner-city courses, the course is lined with townhomes and signs continually warn that you’re liable for damages. A bad hook will drop you in someone’s backyard. However, though I occasionally have a wicked slice, I never hit too close to the fence. The homes are not so close that even a beginning golfer needs to worry — unlike some other inner-city courses.
Crystal Ridge never feels too difficult, striking a balance between a few aggravating ball magnets and the smooth fairway of the ninth hole. And by offering the same nine holes again for the eighteen-hole round, you get the chance to get a feel for the course and for how you’re playing that day, to greatly improve your game on the last nine.