Water, fairway, trees and a Prairie sunset: a pretty view as the sun set behind our foursome teeing off on the sixth hole at J.R. Golf Course

Damn straight, J.R. is a great place to up your game

Weight on balls of the feet. Bend knees, relax arms. Check alignment of the ball. Keep left arm straight on the backswing, tuck the right elbow, something about my hips. Then … release the Kraken!

OK, I think the term used by my golf instructor was “uncoil” but after all that who wouldn’t want a drink?

Point is, I was wrapping up my third lesson with James at Jagare Ridge (lessons are a mandatory part of the Golfaround program) and my next tee time was a full week away. I needed to practise before I forgot everything I had just learned.

All the tee boxes hit over a small pond on the sixth hole at J.R. Golf Course. At 120 yards from the reds, more than a few balls were lost by the Golfarounders.
All the tee boxes hit over a small pond on the sixth hole at J.R. Golf Course. At 120 yards from the reds, more than a few balls were lost by the Golfarounders.

With a little encouragement from lesson-mate Sunny, I wormed my way into a foursome the following evening to play the front nine at J.R. Golf Course, a small course just west of St. Albert.

J.R. is nothing fancy. In fact, more than a few of our husbands turn up their noses at it.

But I wasn’t looking for fancy. I wanted a straightforward layout in which I could work on my swing — from drives to chips — plus get in some putting, tackle some hazards and end with a beer.

The front nine at J.R. is not just straightforward. Many of the holes are both straight and narrow.

This pretty little course, tucked next to Big Lake in Sturgeon County, has water in play on seven of the first nine holes. (Note to golfers still working on their aim: bring lots of balls.) The fairways are in decent enough shape (there were a fair sprinkling of dead patches the day we were there) and the first cut is thick. Thick like if you don’t lose your ball in the water, you may well struggle to find it in the grass.

Challenging? Well, probably not for everybody but it was pleasantly so for our group of beginner to intermediate golfers. Cheap? Absolutely. We paid $15 for nine holes. The course’s motto is “Play More, Golf Better” and at this price, there is plenty of room to improve my game.

J.R. Golf Course
• 26329 Meadowview Dr., Sturgeon County, just west of St. Albert.
• 30 km from downtown Edmonton
• 18 holes

By the numbers: Par is 35 for the front nine, 71 for the full 18. Front nine yardage ranges from 2,421 from the reds to 2,931 at the blues. For the full 18, yardage ranges from 5,210 to 6,425.

$$: 9-hole rate including GST is $15 weekdays, $10 on Fridays, $20 weekends and holidays. 18-hole rates are $25, $20 and $30.

Defining characteristics: Cheap and cheerful. Front nine has lots of water, a corresponding amount of waterfowl (duck-duck-goose anyone?), narrow fairways, and a minimum of bunkers or tree trouble.

Walkability: Heck yes. The front is almost entirely flat.

On-course amenities: There is a beer cart and a nice licensed patio. We were the last group out, so didn’t have a ton of time to enjoy the patio (they were closing down for the night). While out on the course, the marshall came by to let us know when things were closing down, and we were very grateful that they stayed open long enough for us to enjoy a quick beverage with the rest of the group.

This summer, Dan and I have put the drive into Road Wordy, with a series of blog posts focused on golfing in Alberta. Our Drive Time stories will focus on golf gems that are an easy drive or overnight from Edmonton. Our Nine Hole series looks at courses Therese is playing with the Golfaround program for women.  

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