Walk into the Cresta Luna club house and attached to the desk is what they call an Alaskan putter, known to those in ‘the south’ as a flattened chunk of tree with a branch attached as a shaft, and above it is written ‘The Country Club.’
You don’t get any more country than this golf club, both the Alaskan putter and Cresta Luna.
Sitting 38 kilometres west of town, near Puncheskut Lake, the new course, and the owner-operators Stan and Dawn Barz, are embracing their country roots, aiming for a relaxed atmosphere away from the bustle and competitive leanings of the bigger courses.
“Our goal out here, we’re not really looking for the big professional golfers to come out here, we’d like to have a good amount of kids come out to learn to play the game and not be pushed on a good sized course,” Stan said.
To help keep that relaxed atmosphere, tee times are kept 20 minutes apart, so no one is trodding on your heels.
The area was originally a horse ranch, but when that didn’t work out, the enterprising pair went searching for something new.
And now, after seven years of work, 460 excavator hours, 10 gravel trucks of rocks and uncountable hours of manual labour later, primarily done by Stan and Dawn, there sits a nine-hole 31 par golf course laid over the land, complete with water features and sand traps and 1,864 driving yards for men and 1,730 for women.
All those hours and work they fit in where they could, after work and on the weekends, or during holidays.
“It was very time consuming and really physical. I have a 75 horse Masey Fergusson tractor; it was born in 1962, so I’m just a little bit older than it. I always thought to myself me and my tractor were having a competition to see who would last the longest. But we’re both still here,” Stan said.
Skirting the perimeter of the course, the couple point to the pieces of ancient machinery, some of which were used to farm the very land the course is laid out on, dot the landscape. Each is a horse drawn piece, Dawn pointed out, which both ties back to their original idea for the land and emphasizes the, largely, un-motorized aspect of the course; there are no carts here for golfers, just a path winding over hill and dale.
The pair are proud of the course they dug out from under the rocks and the bushes and the trees and it shows as they troll along the perimeter and tell stories of the land and the work, or point out views which are particularly beautiful.
“That’s one compliment we have gotten a lot – it’s beautiful,” Dawn said.
The course itself is pretty compact and has a lot of rise to it, including what Stan called the hardest sand trap in the Cariboo – a veritable wall of sand right in front of the green on the first hole. It’s the kind of trap your liable to build a mountain in while digging yourself out.
After nine holes of golf, or 18 if you want to go around twice, the Cantina will beckon.
The Cantina is open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. serving a selection of southwest food from breakfast to dinner.
Duck inside and it’s shady and cool. Look down and you’ll notice a golf hole, from driving box to green painted on the floor.
There are plenty of little details Stan and Dawn point out, including the tables they made themselves, which fits into the other theme of the place.
“This is strictly, 100 per cent ours,” Dawn said about the work and design of the place.
“It was just us,” Stan added.
That includes the design of the course itself, which took a couple hours and a scratch pad to knock out, which fit almost perfectly on the land.
Dawn said enough of her visitors have asked after camping that the couple have a new challenge for next year, getting a camping area up and running, but right now she just points people toward Silvia’s Cafe, four kilometres away. Right now, though, they’re focusing on getting all the details right on the course itself.
Tee times are open 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. An adult costs $20 for 9 holes or $30 for a round of 18. A nine hole round for seniors costs $15 or $25 for 18. Children, who parents are encouraged to bring along, though six and under require a waiver to be signed, cost $12 for 9 holes and $20 for 18.
If county golf sounds like an experience, head out west on Nazko road and look for the sign on your left about 38 km west of town. If you hit the turn off for Puncheskut Lake you’re probably kicking yourself as you see golfers out on the course to your left, turn around when you can and duck into the driveway with the sign hanging from the antique gas station sign.