A tour of Predator Ridge

Yes, it’s true, I went to Predator Ridge, one of Canada’s premier golf communities, not to play golf.  OK, I like to golf as much as the next person, but there is also the wife person to consider.  We had gone golfing at The Boulders, probably the finest resort in all of Arizona, and she had discovered that in order to play golf, first you need to know how to play. I already knew this fact but said nothing. Therefore it’s fair to say she got off to a bad start, but made some good divots.

The trip to Predator Ridge was simply an excuse for an excellent vacation, and my significant other has no problems with excellent vacations. The idea is we would relax and lounge around in the midst of scenic beauty, and enjoy fine wine and food, and make some excursions to other areas of the north Okanagan that are worth examining.  Like wineries, and the lakeshore, and Vernon, and whatever else we found.

Truth be told, we are also always looking for something new to explore. Also, we are in the mood these days to look ahead to retirement, and vacation destinations, and a rural lifestyle. Vancouver is almighty expensive, and it rains too much in the winter. The sunny Okanagan is always on our list to explore.

The first surprise when arriving at Predator Ridge was the size of the community. It’s far more than a clubhouse and a lodge. Looking around for the lodge, it was immediately apparent that The Ridge is a real community, a village, with bike paths and a grocery store and a fitness centre and children’s play centre and tennis courts and different suburbs. It’s huge. I grabbed a bike and went for a look.

Driving around, we soon found the lodge where we would stay but there were also town homes, condos, cottages, estates and single-family houses in various sizes.  They each had garages, front and back yards, flower beds, barbeques and satellite dishes just like any other community. It wasn’t a resort, it was a big village.

The lodge much proved as expected, a lovely luxury suite with living room and bedroom and kitchen, with great views. The first tee (I think it was the front 18) was right under our window.  From here we were able to observe and make disparaging remarks about the style and skill of the golfers, noting that we obviously could do better. Well, put the danged ball in the fairway, anyway.

It was a very long walk to the clubhouse and The Range restaurant, almost two minutes, where we were able to get a front row seat for the 18th hole, thereby circumnavigating the entire course in less time that it usually takes me to get out of a sand trap. A lovely young server pounced on us immediately, drawing my eyes away from a long, downhill breaking putt that I knew would slide by on the right hand side of the cup.

The menu was the usual clubhouse fare of steaks, fish, burgers, salads, soups and such, well prepared and served quickly, but it was the view that absorbed most of my attention.  The front 18 at The Ridge is a links course, bumpy and mostly devoid of trees, a wee bit o’ Scotland transported from Auld Lang Syne.  Famed writer Mark Twain called golf “a good walk spoiled,” but he was probably stuck in a sand trap when he said that.

To my mind, golf is a lovely walk in the park, of manicured greens and lush rough and flags flying in the breeze. I started playing at a young age with a 5 iron left behind by a kindly uncle. Yes, it takes years to learn how to play well enough to enjoy the sport, but it struck me that Predator Ridge – while a challenging course – was not set up to host the national open. You can hit the ball and not lose it off the tee.

After dinner, it was a 30-second walk to the grocery store. This is the first time I have ever seen Louisiana tiger prawns for sale at golf resort.  While most full time Ridge residents probably shop for weekly groceries in nearby Vernon, you never know when company is going to drop by and you need more tiger prawns.  The store also boasted many other deluxe foodstuffs that you are not going to find in a 7/11. Plus snacks and coffees to be enjoyed on the outdoor patio.  Nice touch.

Outside the grocery store is a patio, where I met some Jim and Monica Allen who had purchased property at Predator Ridge when it was first getting off the ground, and were very happy with their purchase. They were from Alberta, and returned to the Okanagan several times every summer to golf and relax in their vacation home.

Next stop the next day was the swimming pool, just outside our suite, where one can lounge around and let the kids play and read a book and enjoy a dip on a hot day. This is the kind of relaxation I would normally enjoy on most vacations, but I needed some exercise, so I wandered over to the village fitness centre, a 5-minute walk up the street.

My plan was to snag a mountain bike and explore the entire property on a scenic tour, and voila!  Not only does the village fitness centre rent bikes, they rent e-bikes as well!  As the fitness director kindly explained, they have a very wide range of exercise options at the centre, ranging from yoga classes to weekly hikes to stretching to weight lifting.  Yes, guests like me make use of the centre, but it’s often village residents who use the indoor pool and other facilities on a daily basis.

I grabbed a mountain bike and pedalled off to check out the village. First stop was the rental cottages, in the middle of which is locates something called the Hockey Canada cottage, where I met Predator Ridge golf operations director Cameron Craig. Apparently hockey players are dedicated golfers and many professionals come to the Ridge every summer to polish their game.

Heading west from there, I cycled towards Birdie Lake, noting on my map the many walking and hiking trails that shoot off into the forests and hills. I was very tempted to ascend the trail to the top of the ridge, where the views were reportedly splendid, but no time. Birdie Lake proved exactly what I had guessed, a refuge of quiet and serenity located in the midst of other peace and serenity, aside from the occasional bad tee shot.

I pedaled back down the hill through a mix of homes cleverly designed to fit into the landscape, idly wondering what it must be like to wake up in the morning in the midst of such scenic beauty. Obviously you can’t play golf every day, but if you can step out of your front door and commute 5 minutes to the clubhouse, well…. That must be many people’s idea of paradise. There were folks barbequing, unloading the car, kids playing, everything you would find in any other community, but in between the houses there were golf holes instead of parking lots or the other usual urban attractions. Would I like to live here at Predator Ridge, retire here, or vacation here on a regular basis? Yes, I would.  Now I just need to teach the wife person how to swing a five iron.

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Categories: Tour

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