The Rise an exceptional place to tee it up
VERNON, B.C. — As one of only two Fred Couples’ signature courses in the entirety of Canada, The Rise Golf Course, located in Vernon, is one place you won’t want to skip on your next journey to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.
“It’s only one of two courses in Canada that is a Couples’ design. The other is in Quebec,” stated the course’s Director of Golf, Chad Scott. “I think that is important to the older demographic that remembers Freddie, know who he is and all his accomplishments …. those people see the value, the prestige he brings to a golf course. That name carries a lot of weight for our customers, our guests.”
Rising high above the city of Vernon, The Rise has undergone a few changes since its inception and those are making this mountain-side track an even more enjoyable play. Under its new ownership, some changes have been made to improve the 18-hole layout’s playability and enjoyment factor.
The biggest change out there is the second hole, going from a demanding par-4 uphill monster into a somewhat more gentle par-5,, although at least part of the uphill challenge still remains. That takes it from probably being one of the hardest holes in the Okanagan Valley down a notch, but it still offers challenges.
“It was an extremely hard hole, quite severe. We’ve always said of it that if you get a bogey, take it and run! We’ve softened it up quite a bit,” by shaving the fairway down to the level of the tee boxes so your opening shot isn’t impeded by the severe slope of the hill. As well, the trees bordering the left side of the fairway have been thinned, allowing players an easier second shot if they stray a bit on their opening volley. “”You can at least find your ball there, get it out,” explained Scott. “It makes the hole a bit more playable.”
Another major change is coming on the sixth hole, a downhill par-3 that will most likely become the signature hole on this layout. “When the course was built, the original vision was to have a pond (fronting the green) and a waterfall off the rock face,” explained Scott. “It was never completed so in the spring we’ll finish it and I think it will become one of our most memorable holes, that’s for sure.”
Also coming down the line is a new clubhouse on No. 18 which will offer an outstanding view of Okhnangan Lake far below. The hole will change from its present par-4 test into a par-3 but that won’t take anything away from the finish.
“There’s no rule that says you have to end on a par four or par five,” said Scott about the shortened hole. “I think with this par three, when everyone gets up there and stands on that tee box, looking down at the green and the spectacular view of the lake, that’s all they’ll talk about. To finish with that view, that shot, and that look all around, it’s going to erase any criticism,” of the length of the hole which will become “about 180 to 190 yards from the back tee.
In describing the characteristics of this unique layout, where hitting it straight is a good thing, Scott agreed there some blind tee shots that keep you on your toes. Because of that, if you have a moment waiting for the group in front of you to clear, take a drive ahead to see where you want to go if you’re new to this track. And make sure you have your camera ready for some awesome shots, even if perhaps your golf clubs don’t have an abundance of those.
In summation, Scott said, “We’re completely experience driven here. For anyone that walks on the property, it’s an experience of the views, the layout, and how each hole is separated from the others. We’re a thousand feet above the lake and it’s a special spot.”
So as The Rise undergoes changes for the better, the excitement about this Fred Couples’ design will continue to rise. After all, it is in rare company in this province, let alone the rest of the country.
For tee times at The Rise, go to playgolfbc.com and follow the Links.
By Gord Montgomery
Inside Golf Writer