- Stanley Thompson
- Built in 1925
- Jasper, Alberta
- 3rd in Canada (ScoreGolf)
- 6th in My Top 50 Golf Courses
Like Banff, Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course is one of Stanley Thompson’s most iconic courses. Jasper is essentially a template for Stanley Thompson golf courses; brilliant par 4’s, par 3’s that feel like par 4’s, and par 5’s that are 4 1/2’s.
Jasper might be one of the the best uses of natural topography. Thompson was blessed with a site, but it takes a special architect to use it the way Stanley Thompson did.
The second hole is the first half-par hole on the course, and one of the best. The tee shot is wide, with lots of room to miss, but demanding to hit the fairway. The player needs to either hit the fairway or miss just barely miss right for a good angle and a chance to get to the green in two.
The key — if you miss the fairway — is having the chance to run it up the right hand side. The hole slopes to the left, and the slope to the right of the bunker can be used to get the ball close. If the player is left off the tee, it will be difficult to fly all the green side bunkers (the rough on this hole is particularly thick), and use the slope from that angle.
The 3rd, arguably the best 4 on the course, is a dogleg right, playing 450 yards from the back tees. The landing area is blind, and is a fairly difficult tee shot. It’s important to leave the tee shot out to the right, righter than you think, if you want to be in the fairway and have any angle to the green.
After navigating the tee shot, you’re faced with a beautiful look at the 3rd green:
The fourth, a beast, is a 240 yard par 3 with what feels like a thousand bunkers, normally playing into the wind. The hole features a skinny green that’s very difficult to hit. Even though it’s a 3 on the card, a 4 is not a bad score here.
The next par 3, the 231 yard par 3 9th, is another hole that features a lot of bunkers. The hole plays significantly less than the posted yardage due to it’s downhill nature.
The 9th is likely the most demanding shot on the golf course. The green sits up dramatically, with deep bunkers some 20-30 feet below the putting surface at the bottom around the left, right and back. The only miss is short right.
The 11th, one of the most picturesque holes on the course, isn’t long, at just over 400 yards, and from an elevated tee the player is encouraged to let it loose and give it a rip.
This hole reminds me of the 9th at Banff, where the hole looks relatively easy and wide, encouraging the player to give a rip. However, if the player gets out of position it can be sneaky tough.
After the 12th and 13th, both good holes in their own right, you step up to what is one of the best par 4’s in the world: the 363 yard 14th.
If the player hugs the left, as close to the trees as he can, he’ll have a flatter lie and better angle going into the green, but for the player who plays it farther right, he’ll have a hook lie with a worse angle.
The 14th is such a great hole, and starts a fantastic 3 hole stretch of 14-15-16.
The 15th, another world class hole, is a short par 3 to a small, saddle type green. The hole features collection areas short left and right, with a bunker long right and left. The green slopes to the front left side of the green.
I’ve seen anything from an ace to a 9 here. It all depends on if you hit the green. If you’re in one of those collection areas, particularly the right one, it can be very difficult to keep on the green. The back right bunker is even harder. Left is better here, and gives you a slight chance at making 3.
The 18th is another contender for the best par 4 on the course. A 463 yard par 4 that doglegs to the left, the hole has a bunker 192 to carry off the tee and 303 to get to. For the shortest approach shot in, the tee shot needs to be aggressive down the left side. If the shot is left out to the right it’ll be a lengthy second to a well guarded green.
It’s easy to see why people like Alister Mackenzie and George C. Thomas, two very important architects within the golden age of architecture, liked this golf course. It’s fun, it’s fair, and it’s firm in some spots, but overall, it’s a great experience, and a great 18 holes. There was so many holes I didn’t review that are great; the 5th, a beautiful par 5, or the 8th, an incredibly difficult par 4 that is one of the best uses of the natural terrain I’ve ever seen. The back features some great holes as well, like the 10th, or 13th, or 16th.
Jasper’s ranking at 3rd in Canada is fair. Personally, I think Banff is a better 18 holes, but it’s so close–I love both! I would return to Jasper any day of the week, no hesitation. The course is among my favorites anywhere.