Sagebrush Offers A Pleasant Reminder To ‘Play’ At Golf
The ‘New Sagebrush’ Conjures Images Of Persevering In The ‘Old West’ - All Images Credit Bryan Outram/iG/BC Golf
By Doug Hastie, British Columbia Golf
Sagebrush. The word can conjure different emotions and visuals. For me it brings up Western films... a lone figure going across an expansive desert with nothing but the occasional train track or homestead coming into view.
Perseverance, grit, toughness, and beauty come to mind.
Driving down highway 5A from Kamloops last week towards Sagebrush - the golf course, the land and the sky brought me to this state of mind.
We arrived around 4 o’clock and our experience started by checking into a room that does not say “western” at all.
It is a two-bedroom suite, with an en suite bathroom in both rooms and a view over the lake. Modern, comfortable furniture, tv’s and a small fridge, just what you need for a great night’s stay. However, that is not why we were here. We loaded up our golf cart with plenty of water and drove down to the first tee.
Sagebrush Overlooks Beautiful Nicola Lake
I did have expectations, as I have heard about this golf course since it opened. Now that it is back in operation after laying fallow for 4 years, I was excited to see what all the fuss was... and is, all about. I was also very curious about what the conditions would be like, knowing a little about course maintenance and what time can do to an irrigation system, grasses, bunkers, cart paths, etc.
I found the back tee (no tee markers, only a small SB in black to let you know what tee it is) and pegged it up. The fairway is wide, the bunkers look wild, and the pin looked like it was a mile away. The first hole is uphill, going away from the lake.
When I got to my ball, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could reach this par 5 with a good second shot. The fairway gave me plenty of roll, even uphill. I came up short with my approach and that left me a short shot uphill to a pin tucked just over the false front of this big green.
I got a little too conservative and hit it 25 feet past the hole, leaving me a downhill putt, which I managed to get down in two for par. I took a look around while playing, and what I saw didn’t surprise me. Rocks have come up through the sand in the waste areas, which I am sure will be separated out in time. The fairways have a few different grasses in them, which will be over-seeded with fescue, the way the course was originally.
You Can Hit Your Drive On 13 Before Doing A Little Casting For Trout
The greens are a little rough, but smooth enough that you can putt with confidence. They will be brought back to the bent grass surfaces they were. When I hit my approach into the second, I noticed that the ball mark was very shallow, but when I fixed it, the soil was soft and sandy. The whole course is consistent in these conditions, which is pretty remarkable considering it has not had much TLC in many years.
We played the first 6 holes and I noticed I wasn’t worried about the conditions anymore, I was just having fun trying to figure out where to hit the ball and seeing what it does after it hits the ground. I also, being a Tournament Director, looked at all the different teeing areas and pin positions that are possible here.
Most of the greens are huge, and depending on where you put the hole, can change the complexion and difficultly of it completely. The seventh hole has two different fairways which we were told about before teeing off. We played drives and approaches down the left-hand side and then drove back to try again down the right-hand side.
We could do this because there was only one other group on the course. It won’t always be this empty, but it won’t be full either. A busy day here might be 60 players in the future, a long way from the 250 that tee it up on most golf courses on an average day in the summer.
The seventh plays totally different from the two fairways, it will be interesting to see if both are in play always, or if the ownership chooses to close one. Two strong par 4’s end the front nine. From the back tees they measure 474 and 442 yards.
The Hideout Will Soon Be Back In Business As It Was Some Years Back
The thing is, you realize these scorecard yardages don’t mean an awful lot. The wind, whether the hole is uphill or downhill, and especially where your drive lands and how much roll it gets, affect the yardage of your approach so much that I hardly looked at the scorecard yardages on the back nine at all.
The ninth does not bring you back to where you started, which is fine with me, I don’t want to take a break from the golf! The drive from the 11th green to the 12th tee takes you up a hill, and it is here that I could see a TV Western being filmed. You end up beside a 60-foot red rock wall and eventually on the 12th tee, which aims you up a little hill to one of the smaller greens on the course.
It only measures 126 yards from the back tee, but the setting and the green make it one of the Head Pro's favorites. Then it was on to the drivable 13th hole. You hit your drive, and then... if you are smart, you stop at the 'Hideout' and take advantage of being able to take a break during your round.
The actual Hideout building is not quite done yet, but they still had some food ready for us. I then took a couple of casts into the stocked pond that sits alongside the building and the rainbow trout seemed to almost jump out of the water to get the bait. They were not too big, but nice fish just the same, and they swam away with good energy when we put them back in.
Try Your Hand At Casting A Line For One Of The Trout In The Lake Beside The Hideout
If my son was with us (13-years old) I think we would have stayed there until dark, but as it was, we went to finish the round. I was lucky enough to hit the 13th green with my drive, so an easy two-putt led to a birdie. The 14th is a true 3-shot par 5 for all but the longest hitters and you must be careful with your 2nd. The green is uphill around a corner to the left. After playing a nice short par 4 you get to the 16th, another long par 5.
Aiming your drive left of the white rock on the hill, you end up with a second shot down to a lower fairway. It is not as narrow as it seems, but you need to pick the proper line to find the short grass. Seventeen and eighteen are strong par 4’s with big, interesting greens. I found myself putting out on 18 wanting to go right back to #1 and start again.
Maybe I could take it down the right-hand side of #7 this time and see if it will kick down. And then I could try and run it into the 5th hole instead of hitting a wedge. So many different shots to try, and so little time.
Is Sagebrush for everyone? I would say no. Some just won’t get it. They will think it is unfair to have a ball bounce and roll where they didn’t expect it to. They might expect pristine conditioning and signs telling them what to do and where to go (there is GPS coming for the golf carts, so you won’t get lost).
Heck, they might even be turned off that there are no tee markers to line you up. But if you are a “golfer” then I would highly recommend embracing the Sagebrush Philosophies found on the back of the scorecard and making the trip.
So, after playing the course and being enthralled by it, Sagebrush now conjures up different images and feelings for me. I can’t say the word and not be transported back to the big canvas of the golf course and the way it makes you “play” at golf, not just hit golf shots.
About the Writer:
Doug Hastie is the Tournament Director for British Columbia Golf as well as a member of the PGA of BC.
- 2017 PGA of BC Professional Development Award
- 2007 PGA of BC Teacher of the Year
- CDC Certified with the PGA of Canada (one of only two on Vancouver Island)
- Vancouver Island Class “A” Professional of the Year for 2016