Collicutt Siding Golf Club
Whether you’re a serious golfer or a casual one, if you’re looking for a relaxed 18 holes of golf before the season is out, take a drive 20 minutes north of Calgary to Crossfield. Just behind the industrial area, across the railroad tracks — on the left as you drive into Crossfield from the Queen Elizabeth II highway — is Collicutt Siding Golf Club.
Collicutt Siding has been slowly developed over the last two decades. The front nine opened in 1995, the back nine opened in 2003, and both offer distinctly different golfing experiences.
The front nine holes of Collicutt are relatively flat and surrounded with low trees. All nine holes are straightforward with few surprises. Aside from two very short par threes on holes two and seven, the front nine consists of long straight drives with few water or sand traps. The only real difficulty is the island green on hole six that is ideally placed to snatch your golf ball on the third stroke — or the second stroke if you can drive 250 yards from the tee.
You can settle in with a couple beers and play a calm nine holes while you hear something rarely heard on Calgary golf courses: actual wildlife — frogs, birds and crickets.
The front nine is not a young course but does have a few problems beyond the moat surrounding the pin on the sixth hole. Cart paths are still largely unpaved, or in some cases non-existent. We had to check the scorecard map twice to make sure we were headed towards the next hole. Unpaved or missing paths means that if it has rained recently, Collicutt would likely ban their golf carts from the course — the water pools on the flat front nine. You’ll be rolling your golf bag behind you for the day and fetching golf balls out of deep puddles.
The back nine on the other hand, offers a slightly more links-style golf course with fewer trees and more streams and gentle hills. This layout offers a more challenging and precise golf experience, avoiding the small streams and long grass that pose greater challenges than the other water hazards and sand traps.
Few of the holes on the back nine are straight drives. Most of the time you’ll need to place your ball before chipping it over gaps in the fairway, jumping from section to section while avoiding the grass and water.
While losing your ball is unlikely on the front nine, you’ll undoubtedly lose one or two on the back.
Like the front nine, the back nine’s cart paths are unpaved, though the nine holes follow well from the next.
While the course feels vaguely unpolished between unpaved and missing cart paths, or the new clubhouse that has slowly opened since it was built three years ago, don’t hold that against it. Collicutt offers a fun day of golf for casual and serious golfers alike. The course offers great rates, at only $37 per adult for 18 holes. And, while the deals have mostly ended for the season, the course does offer special rates online at different golf websites throughout the summer ($69 for two golfers, including power carts, two large buckets of range balls and hot dogs).
For a golf course that has par for the course as 60 strokes, rather than the typical 72 strokes, Eaglequest Douglasdale is one of the most uncomfortable courses I have ever played. It should be an easy 18 holes, but it isn’t.
I drive almost consistently, unerringly straight on my good days. And it was one of my good days when I played Eaglequest Douglasdale for the first time. Yet the entire course was just a little too narrow to enjoy a comfortable day of golf.
Now, it may have been the culmination of psychological damage from years of golfing with a wicked slice, but the houses that constantly line the holes of Eaglequest are much too close to the fairway — even when they really aren’t. They feel too close and the whole course becomes a bit stifling and claustrophobic. There are tee boxes lined with driving-range netting on either side and at least one hole — the 14th hole — where using woods is prohibited. The houses on either side are always on the golfer’s mind.
The entire course snakes its ways through the neighbourhood in a giant figure eight, with cart paths diving beneath residential roads through concrete tunnels. Each hole progresses directly after the next in a line, always between people’s backyards.
None of the holes are par five, and two-thirds of them are par three. With the short fairways and gullies and streams, accuracy is the key to playing the course. Driving from the tee box becomes a simple leisurely swing, and most of the time you’ll be playing with your short irons — your seven, eight and nine — chipping the ball into place in order to make the next shot. All of this helps keep the ball from being hooked or sliced off the course to either side — you never need much power to make your shot, so the ball never goes out of control from over-swinging.
Having said that, the water hazards are irritatingly placed to match up with the range of the lower irons. Much of the time I needed to chose a lower club than I would typically use, so that I could make a longer shot on the second stroke. Driving it far enough on the first stroke is an unsettling option, even for golfers with great range.
If you’re looking to improve your short game, perhaps Eaglequest Douglasdale is for you. However, if you’re like me and much of the fun of golf is that feeling of achieving a perfect long drive from the tee, with a beautiful chip onto the green on the second stroke, then you’ll want to pick a different course.