If I had to pick one golf course in the golf-rich Kelowna area of British Columbia that both genuinely surprised and excited me, it would be The Club at Tower Ranch. The are so many peaceful spots and gorgeous views that I occasionally stopped my round just to take in the surroundings as the property looks down upon Kelowna and features many bucolic views in other directions.
Below is a view from above the 17th green toward Kelowna and Okanagan Lake in the distance.
From the downhill vista of the opening tee shot to the approach to the final green, there is just one exciting challenge and vista after another. Built upon a hillside high above Kelowna, the course is worth a visit just for the views alone, but the fun doesn’t end there. The fairways are for the most part very generous and among the best conditioned I’ve ever encountered – ditto for the greens. Though this is not a walkable golf course, I quickly got over that prejudice and was in love with the layout by the time I finished the outgoing nine. The back nine is even more dramatic. Bold views, bold bunkering, and bold greens all combine for a more memorable golf experience.
My only criticism is that there were an abundance of false fronts to the putting surfaces meaning that balls not quite getting to the flat portions of the greens would begin trickling back the speedy slopes off the greens and back down the fairways. This is of limited concern to the expert, but a constant challenge to the average player. (Tip: if you see a white bottle of sand standing just short of any green at Tower Ranch, take an extra club. The sand is there because of the false green front and shots that don’t make the middle of the putting surface collect back down the fairway right next to that bottle.)
Let there be no mistake, Tower Ranch is a difficult and a visually intimidating golf course for the novice. Natural fescues grasses that first grew in were thankfully trimmed down to allow folks to find and play their shots. The good players will appreciate the firm tight lies in contrast to the weaker player who will discover nothing upon which to prop the ball on. This is a player’s course.
While Tower Ranch will appeal to the better than average players from a playability standpoint, no one will go away disappointed with the conditioning or the views; both are exceptional. The bunkering is very bold and nicely complements the shaping of each hole. Now having said that, there will be some golfers who much prefer the tree-lined parkland style golf course and there are many of them in Kelowna.
Fagan Grade: A-. This is a fun “Wow!” golf course that is not to be missed when visiting Kelowna. The aesthetics particularly with the bold dramatic bunkering, superb conditioning, and area views are most memorable. My only criticism was a most mild one and that is the prevalence of so many false front green entrances. Not only is that difficult and slows down play, it becomes a bit tedious. Overall, I really loved Tower Ranch and would tell folks if they had only one round to play closest to town, Tower Ranch would be the one, provided they are not biased toward the tree-line parkland style. What a golf course!