Course Reviews – Talking Rock – Add Talking Rock to Your Bucket List
It was circumstance and good fortune that made me add Talking Rock to my early May itinerary in a quick two-day, one night trip to the Shuswap region of BC for some golf. Sagebrush was not yet opened and I researched options in lieu of this. Talking Rock was not on my Bucket List but I am going to add it, and you should too.
Looking back from behind the 2nd green
The course is located outside of Chase, BC – between Kamloops and Salmon Arm. The course is part of a resort and conference facility on Little Shuswap Indian Band territory on the north shore of Little Shuswap Lake. Directions to the area are easy but follow signs as you get close. The course is not visible from the access road and you will head to the resort and conference facility to check in. Staff will direct you across the road to superb practice facilities and the first tee.
I really appreciated the relaxed layout which meanders throughout the area with stunning views of the mountains. The course layout is a real strength, creating a sense of solitude throughout the course with few exceptions. Despite a relaxed layout, it is the course design will demand your attention. Off the tee, the course varies from demanding to quite generous. Greens are guarded very well with bunkering, elevation change or, in some cases, ponds. The tall pines frame holes exceptionally well and create beauty and clarity from tee to green. The front nine opens strong; fact is, I love the opening six holes. The par 3 6th is a beautiful par 3 which is guarded well with a bunker on the front and a subtle downhill slope on the front edge of the green. The par 5 3rd hole is a sensational golf hole tee to green. Heavily guarded with bunkers around the green, the risk-reward factor for big hitters is real.
The par 3 6th hole was one of my favourites.
The course really shows its ‘wow factor’ from holes 14 to 18. The 14th is an uphill par 4 with a slight left-to-right movement. When you get to the tiered green your work is not done, but take time to look left of the green to get your first view of Little Shuswap Lake. It shows the subtle climb players have made on the back nine. The view culminates with a signature hole, the par 3 15th. This downhill par 3 plays 1-2 clubs less than the yardage depending on wind. And greenside bunkers are eager to capture errant shots. I loved the dogleg par 5 16th which continues downward from the high point of the course on the 15th tee (get your cameras out for that look over the lake). A risk-reward par 4 17th awaits before a straightaway par 4 closing hole which runs adjacent (and very close) to Little Shuswap Lake. The subtle beauty of the opening 6 holes is replaced by a more awe-inspiring closing set of holes.
Amidst this natural beauty is a course of exceptional quality and conditioning. Greens ran consistent throughout the course. The slope changes will require attention on the greens but slope is fair and playable. The bunkers are very good.
12th hole off the tee
I finished my round and immediately regretted I could not tee it up again for another 18. However, I did manage to stretch my stay with a seafood clubhouse at the resort for lunch. The food, like the golf and the scenery, was spectacular. Lastly, while piling on praise for this underrated gem, I have to acknowledge the professional and courteous staff who helped make my experience at Talking Rock memorable.
Aura – 6 out of 10 – I had not heard of this course, but locals certainly have. I am going to do my best to ensure others outside of the area are not in the same boat as me.
The first view of Little Shuswap Lake is off the left of the 14th green.
Value (cost / experience) – 8 out of 10. A peak greens fee of $75 is exceptional. Stay and play offers exist and while there is no mention of a replay rate, the course does offer graduated greens fees based on tee times throughout the afternoon.
Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 8 out of 10 – I loved this course. The layout creates a sense of solitude I enjoy. The conditions were very good and consistent throughout the course. The members and staff take pride in the course and maintain it exceptionally well. It is also a layout which players of all skill levels will appreciate.
The stunning 15th is a clear choice for the signature hole at Talking Rock
Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – This was a highly underrated play for me and I am surprised and disappointed this was not on my bucket list from the very beginning. I felt fortunate to play here and, as I mentioned, really wish I could have played 36. – 8 out of 10
Highlight (what is great about the course) – This course starts strong and ends stronger. It is a marriage of beauty, challenge and design which all golfers can appreciate. The closing stretch of holes provides spectacular beauty and great challenge and opportunity for players. It is the kind of course you could play 60 times in one season and never get bored.
Looking back over the short par 4 17th.
Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – It’s appropriate I cite a magic wand. If you get a chance and get paired with a member named George be sure to take the time to explore his incredible magic tricks. We played the last few holes together and while waiting briefly on the tee for a foursome in front of us he would take the time to show me some amazing card tricks. The magic of Talking Rock extends beyond the layout and the great staff!
Just So You Know – The resort offers accommodation options and stay and play packages which are clearly presented on their website. I regret not taking advantage of this and won’t make this rookie mistake next time! Also, their golf shop is very well stocked. Love their logo and it only made sense to get some Talking Rock gear.