Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Rise GC (Part Two)

Part Two of my golf course review. Let's take on the back nine:

The par-4 tenth hole will not beat anyone up with its length. However, plenty of golf balls will inevitably be rinsed in the water hazard along the right side of the fairway. The fairway is wide and everything about the hole is right in front of your eyes. In my opinion, I truly believe this could one day play as the first hole at The Rise. More on this later.

After the nifty 11th hole, which is the first of a trio of par 3’s on the inward nine, you are greeted at the 12th tee by the realization that links golf does in fact exist at The Rise. It comes in form of a three-hole stretch that allows you to let out the driver shaft a couple of times. Sandwiched between the 12th and 14th is the par-3 13th hole, with a Tetris-like, interlocking tee box design.

The 15th and 16th holes wind around a small lake, one that will eventually fill up with an equal representation of every golf ball manufacturer’s product. The wooden foot and power cart bridge along the right side of the par-3 16th is a wonderful testament to the creativity of the architect and the novel workmanship of the builder. This is truly a section of the golf course worthy of photo opportunities.

The home holes seem to have been designed to ensure you leave The Rise with a burned-in image of Okanagan Lake, the city of Vernon and a glimpse of Highway 97. Each hole plays downhill, guaranteeing an inflated yardage for those who strike their tee shots solidly. If you are playing purely for the fun of it, the 17th and 18th holes provide a perfect opportunity to tee it up from the back tees. These, appropriately, are referred to as the “Boom-Boom” tees.

If there were a piece of advice I can offer under the heading of “valuable information”, it would be to make a commitment to play The Rise at least twice. The first time is likely to include some frustration, as not all of your well-struck golf shots are likely to be kindly rewarded. During your second visit, I can absolutely guarantee that due to your first experience, you will play a few shots differently than you did during your first round at The Rise.

I also wonder if the powers-that-be might experiment with an occasional 10th tee start, just to obtain feedback from the golfing public. Currently, holes one, two and three can make for a very difficult start. This stretch could potentially play as holes 10 through 12 if the current back nine was played first. In this case, players would then have a few swings under their belt by the time they arrive at perhaps the most demanding stretch of holes at The Rise.

Alas, these will be decisions made by the competent golf operations team at The Rise, including general manager Terry Yacyshen and head professional Lee Ranger. The pair brings extensive industry experience and make for a formidable team. The Rise has joined the Okanagan Golf Alliance, a group that includes Gallagher’s Canyon, Predator Ridge, the Okanagan Golf Club and the Harvest Club. The group effectively promotes the entire Okanagan Valley by packaging golf and accommodation.

I, for one, will definitely play The Rise on more than one occasion. My first round was reminiscent of my experience at Predator Ridge when it opened for business over a decade ago. The Rise is a tough and narly golf course right now, but it is certain to soften with time and tender loving care. It’s an amazing setting, one I hope will be destined for success and a place among the very best the Okanagan Valley has to offer. Indeed, it’s well worth the trip to play The Rise.

Should you accept this mission, The Rise may very well become a permanent fixture on your dance card.

**Since this piece was written, The Rise GC has been "softened" somewhat with native grasses and fescue being trimmed to reduce the effect on play. And, during the spring of 2009, green fee specials allowed the golfing public to play The Rise GC for as little as $49.00!
Whether one agrees with my view point or not, the reality is that I love this golf course!

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