As firsts go, this was the first time I’d needed to yell “car” on a golf course.
The Golfaround girls were playing the front nine at the lovely Devon golf course, which is tucked into a recreation area that includes a campground and biking trails.
The proximity of all this activity does create some unexpected hazards.
The first hole brings no surprises, just a well-maintained fairway lined with lovely mature trees. At the second hole, it seemed that the tee boxes were pointed towards … the road. Could that be right?
Two members of our group had played the course previously, so they knew the drill. The second hole is a longish par 3 in which you must drive over the road (so to speak) to reach the green on the other side.
During my other drive, the one in which I travelled to the golf course, I’d noted the caution signs warning of carts crossing and balls flying but I was running a bit late and didn’t give much heed. I made it through without mishap but this is a good time to say it: heed the signs! Heed them!
The third hole is a nifty little par 4 that makes the return trip across the road. For our group, the road was in play on our second shots meaning one golfer would prepare to hit while her compadres advised on when it was clear to go.
It appeared we’d arrived at rush hour.
Car. Car. Truck. Cyclist. Motorhome. Man walking a dog. Car. CLEAR!
There was only one errant shot, which neatly pinged one of the road signs and bounced about 50 yards back from where the original shot was taken. Even though the course rules state that “Ball striking pedestrian signs … may be replayed without penalty,” Jen took this as an omen. She picked up her ball and called it quits till the next hole.
With those two quirky holes out of the way, you can settle in to enjoy the rest of the front nine of this course in the North Saskatchewan river valley. It’s a parklike setting, with enough challenges to ensure it’s not just another walk in the park.
There are hills and slopes, bunkers and ponds, mature trees and thick bush. There are even some a few tests of your concentration that weren’t engineered into the course. Like teebox chaos on the fourth hole, where a group of young trail cyclists gathered before launching themselves on a ride that crashed through the woods lining the left side of the fairway. Or the gaggle of cawing crows, who left us feeling a bit murderous.
According to the golf course website, the first nine was built in 1954 to provide some recreation for workers servicing the famous Leduc #1 oilfield, which is just a few kilometres away. The course was expanded to 18 holes in 1970.
Devon Golf and Conference Centre
• 1130 River Valley, Devon
• 42 km from downtown Edmonton
• 18 holes
By the numbers: Par is 35 for the front nine, 70/72 for the full 18. Front nine yardage ranges from 2,511 from the forwards to 2,957 at the tips. For the full 18, yardage ranges from 4,972 to 5,924.
$$: Our group paid $26 for 9 holes; the posted 9-hole rates on the website are $30 weekdays, $38 on Fridays, weekends and holidays (with some restrictions.) 18-hole rates are $43.50 and $54.50.
Defining characteristics: A lush, river valley course with lots of mature trees, elevation changes and other elements to keep the game interesting.
Walkability: Very much so, though there is one solid uphill hike leading up to the seventh green.
On-course amenities: There’s a great clubhouse with comfortable seating, friendly staff and good food. We sat indoors, as the mosquitoes were ferocious that evening.
As long as you’ve made the drive: In between Edmonton and the golf course lies the U of A Botanic Garden which is open in the summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (8:30 p.m. on Thursdays). If you’ve just got a couple of hours, the website suggests visiting the Kurimoto Japanese Garden and the Indoor Showhouses. For a completely different experience, you can learn more about Alberta’s oil history with a self-guided tour at the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through the summer.
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.