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Course review: A salute to Shag


The first thing I do whenever I arrive at the 13th green at Shaganappi Point, before I even peek at my putt, is to dig out my iPhone and snap a few photos.  

Because looking back from this vantage, you’re treated to a gorgeous glimpse of the Bow River valley, a splendid view of Calgary’s downtown skyline and a wide panoramic of a city that continues to sprout in every direction. As a longtime local, it’s one of those spots that makes you think, ‘Jeez, I sure am lucky to live here.’  

And because, let’s be honest, I always need several seconds to catch my breath.  

This par 5 is the equivalent of five minutes on the StairMaster, both a birdie opportunity and quadriceps-burner. While a chunk of this course is accessible to cross-country skiers during the winter months, this stretch of the back nine is understandably off-limits when there is snow on the ground. It would be better suited for alpine.  

That 13th hole, where you blast your tee ball over a ravine and stroll across a long wooden bridge before starting to climb, highlights so much of what I enjoy and appreciate about this par-68 playground. It’s short, scoreable and scenic. It’s accommodating for higher handicaps and still engaging for more polished players. It’s a little bit quirky and a whole bunch of fun.   

I’m definitely not the only one who ranks ‘Shag’ as their favourite of Calgary’s five municipal golf properties. This 27-hole hangout, also home to the so-called Valley Nine, did a record 78,000 rounds in 2021. It tops out at $55.50 on weekends.  

The front nine on the main course is more crammed than it once was due to the widening of a major roadway — the opener wasn’t always a 243-yard weirdo to an almost-island green — but this beloved muni has always been at its best after the turn. Don’t let that steep stretch fool you into thinking you’ll need a power cart. It’s a wonderful walk.  

With its centennial already in the rear-view, Shaganappi Point has been a fixture for multiple generations of divot-digging Calgarians. There have been a lot of first rounds played on these tree-lined fairways. I remember hearing a second-hand story about a guy who still carries one of his father’s old clubs in his bag and always uses it on the same par 3, a touching tribute to someone who’s gone on to golf heaven.  

Over the years, there have been countless photos snapped from that two-tiered putting surface on No. 13, some in black-and-white film and many more in this Instagram era.  

As I thumb through the images on my phone, there are springtime shots with the trees still bare and others from those blue-sky summer days when you’ll see hundreds of rafts floating down the Bow toward downtown. There’s evidence of early morning starts and twilight rounds. The Calgary Tower looks good in all of them.  

The opener at Shaganappi Point is a short par 4 to an intimidating target. (Courtesy Shaganappi Point)

While ‘Shag’ will never be confused with Bethpage Black or Torrey Pines, muni monsters that have hosted major championships, they do have at least one thing in common. This, in its own way, is a place of which local golfers can be proud of.  

Take a moment to admire the views. You’ll need to catch your breath anyway.  



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