Predator Ridge is a magnificent two-course resort that must surely rank among the best resort golf offerings in Canada, if not beyond. It presents a contrast between links style and mountain style golf and is the farthest featured golf destination from town of those around Kelowna, but an easy and scenic 45-minute drive away and a prerequisite trip for any serious golfers.
The older of the two courses is The Predator which began in 1991 as a nine-hole course and within a couple of years the designer Les Furber added nine more making it the standard of the Okanagan region. It is widely acknowledged as the more difficult of the two courses with a rugged wispy links look and feel to it. Its pedigree was soon noticed and it hosted two Canadian Skins Games in 2000 and 2008.
As you drive into the property, the majority of the golf you see belongs to The Predator. It is open to the wind, generally plays into the hills, and manages to keep your attention every shot of the way. The sculptured bunkering is most attractive and water also comes into play though you will only encounter forested terrain on four holes. You will encounter a “Cape” style par-five at the fourteen that strategically encourages you to bite off as much as you dare and a daring approach to the wide, but shallow 18th green that could potentially destroy a good score. There are many up and down shots and very few flat ones.
Expansive vistas such at this greet you on The Predator Course. In the foreground is the practice tee, with the long, uphill par-five 10th in the back left and the 18th green just to the left of the pond.
What else makes The Predator tough? Well, first are the fast undulating greens. The length can be stretched out to nearly 7,100 yards, but it is also those water hazards, penal bunkering, and tough it hit, sometimes semi-blind greens. The fairways are generous enough to be playable in the wind, which makes the course fair. The Predator succeeds as a fair, but tough challenge for all levels mindful of its 137 slope from the tips.
In 2010, Doug Carrick added The Ridge Course. Wisely, a different architect and theme were added to provide added variety, but the landscape is different too. This section of the property winds seamlessly among peaks and valleys and provides spectacular glimpses of Lake Okanaga. Though The Ridge Course can be stretched even longer to over 7,100 yards and it covers quite a trek going down and back up a wooded hillside, it plays significantly shorter. Carrick’s ingenious routing amazingly provides for only a few uphill shots by my count (3rd approach, 4th tee, 10th and 18th approaches), and you will encounter many exhilarating elevated tee boxes.
The Ridge Course is one of the more spectacular panoramic golf courses you will likely encounter and there are many “Oh Wow!” moments. The bunkering is not quite as prolific or as elaborate as Predator’s, but it nicely compliments the overall shaping of this dazzling experience. The woods, rocks, and hilly terrain do make for a challenge, and the course closes with water very much coming into play on the par-three 15th, and par-four 16th and 17th holes. Like its older companion, The Ridge’s conditioning is immaculate. The major distinguishing factor for me is that the putting surfaces are larger with less movement making them easier than The Predator’s to hit and putt.
There is an upscale lodge and cottage that accompany this wonderful facility either to visit or live, and I can’t imagine anyone coming away from either the Predator or Ridge courses without the happy satisfaction of playing two of the best resort courses at one facility anywhere. And on one property you get to also experience many different golfing looks and challenges.
Fagan Grade: A-. Both The Predator and The Ridge rate such a rare high grade. While The Predator is the slightly better test of golf, there is no question that The Ridge is among the most scenic courses I have ever enjoyed and actually a fairly demanding layout itself, especially as you approach its back tees. No trip to Kelowna would be complete without sampling these two golfing delights!
Below is the long approach to the par-five 9th at The Ridge Course.
Below is from behind the 9th green at The Ridge Course looking back down the fairway.