Sports

Golf Digest: Tower Ranch's 17th kicks off Signature Hole Series

Tower Ranch Golf and Country Club head pro Neil Schmidt, on the green at the par 5 17th hole, Tower
Tower Ranch Golf and Country Club head pro Neil Schmidt, on the green at the par 5 17th hole, Tower's signature hole overlooking the City of Kelowna
— image credit: Kevin Parnell

Reporter Kevin Parnell kicks off a new series that will take you on a tour of some of the toughest, most unique and challenging golf holes in the Okanagan Valley with the Kelowna Capital News' Signature Hole Series. This week, Tower Ranch's tough, par 5 17th hole.

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When you reach the 17th hole at Tower Ranch Golf Course, you may be close to the finishing the round at the challenging track carved into the hills above Rutland but you are anything but out of the woods.

Playing 583 yards from the gold tees, 563 from the blues and 487 from the ladies tees, the long, gradual dog-leg to the right demands three good shots to get to the green.

"I love this spot," said Tower Ranch's director of operations Neil Schmidt as he stood on the tee box at 17. "It's late in the round and some people will be pretty fatigued when they get here. It's a special spot. The best way to play it is to stay to the right side."

A tee shot down the right side cuts off some distance on Tower's longest par 5. Of the four par 5's at Tower Ranch, the 17th is the only one that is a genuine three shot hole for the majority of players to get to the green.

After navigating the tee shot, with bunkers on the left and to the right, a second shot must also favour the right side as players will try to get to between 150 and 100 yards out for their approach to the green.

Stray too far to the right or left on either of your first two shots will bring Tower Ranch's deep bunkers into play. There's not much room for error on the left as the rough slopes down and away to the 18th below and major trouble.

The shot into the green also calls for a right side approach.

"The green slopes right to left so you have to favour the right side," said Schmidt. "Too far to the left and your ball can roll right off the green."

Tower is known for its spectacular views, but it is on the 17th green where golfers can pause to watch airplanes come from the airport below. It also provides a glimpse of any number of other courses below, as Sunset Ranch, Shadow Ridege, Kelowna Springs, the Okanagan Golf Club and even a view of Gallagher's are available.

"When you get to the green the views are incredible," said Schmidt.

But on the green players will be well served to remember one local tip that many golf balls will break towards the airport.

"Everything breaks to the airport," said Schmidt. "Everyone thinks it's going to break toward the lake but I tell people to look for the airport."

Constructed in 2008 by golf course designer Thomas McBroom, the 17th took three entire months to build and the results are a dramatic second to last hole that is challenging and breathtaking.

Next Friday in our series: The 18th at the Okanagan Golf Club's Quail Course.

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You might say the golf god's were smiling on Harvest Golf Club husband and wife members Bruce and Monica Rauch last week.

The couple were playing the Harvest in different groups on July 12 when the rarest of occasions took place.

Both husband and wife nailed holes-in-one within a 15 minute span on different holes at the Harvest.

First up was Bruce, who stepped to the 11th hole and drained his shot using a nine iron. And about 15 minutes later, Monica used a driver on the 6th hole to fire a hole in one to gold pin, one of the toughest pin placements on the course.

"Hole in ones are a rarity at the best of times, however for husband and wife to each have a hole in one, 15 minutes apart, on the same course while playing with different groups is a most unusual accomplishment," said  Tamara Graham, marketing manager at the Harvest. "Odds are thought to be one in millions. We'd like to sincerely thank Mr. and Mrs. Rauch for allowing the Harvest to be a part of this unique event and we wish to congratulate them both, while wishing them many more in the future."

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Greg Forbes was the top finishing Kelowna golfer at the B.C. Amateur Golf Championship at the Copper Point Golf Club in Invermere last week.

Forbes, an Okanagan Golf Club member, finished with a plus six total after four rounds at the amateur, finishing in a tie for 24th out of more than 150 players that took part.

Forbes closed the event with an even par 70 and also carded rounds of 71-75 and 74 at the event, won by 21-year-old Langley resident Charlie Hughes in a playoff.

Steven Lee of Kelowna opened with a 78 then had rounds of 72-71-71 to finish T29.

Kelowna golfers Casey Sullivan, William Deck, John Milkotic, James Casorso and Michael Lee also played but missed the cut after three rounds.

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Several players have fired hole-in-ones at the Black Mountain Golf Course so far this year.

Bryon Needham was the latest player to nail an ace on the par 3 17th. Also firing holes in one so far at Black Mountain were Curt Smith (17th) Yvonne Chaperon (9th), Alan Phillips (17th), Curtis Bloom (9th) and Rodger Owens (11th).

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Over at Sunset Ranch there were also some eagle eye shots on the course's par 3 holes resulting in hole in ones. Jamie Klarenbeek used a pitching wedge at the 125 yard par 3 eighth at Sunset and rolled in an ace while a day earlier, Sunset member Rod Armour chose an eight iron for his shot into the 159 yard par 3 fifth hole and rolled it in for a hole-in-one.

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Quotable: "Golf is not just an exercise; it's an adventure, a romance... a Shakespeare play in which disaster and comedy are intertwined."

- Harold Segall

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If you have an item for the golf digest e-mail kparnell@kelownacapnews.com

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