“Out here, you have to battle the elements like you do in Scotland or Ireland,” says McLaren Taylor, Dakota Dunes general manager. Except that you’re in Saskatchewan.
That’s the beauty of Canada’s “Best New Canadian Golf Course of 2005” — the First Nations-owned links has been attracting international attention ever since receiving this nod from Golf Digest. What sets this course apart from the rest? Staying true to the Aboriginal credo, Whitecap Dakota took its cues from nature and created a tried-and-true, old-fashioned, links-style course that embraces the golden sand dunes of the South Saskatchewan River Valley Basin.
“We’ve always been the stewards of the environment,” says Chief Darcy Bear of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, who co-owns the course with the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. The group constructed the course in 2003 and it officially opened in 2004.
The group hired sought-after Canadian architects Graham Cooke and Wayne Carleton to plan the 142-ha (350-ac) course, who made the design fit right into the landscape. Instead of demolition with big machines, the architects laid out the course along natural rolling hills for low-lying greens and blowout bunkers, plus challenging blind shots. And of course there’s the exposure to prairie weather: ever-changing and at times, unforgiving.
Dakota Dunes may not offer prestigious memberships and fine dining, it’s put Saskatchewan on the golf map. The band’s also got a brand-new casino, pow-wows every August nearby and links that are beginner-friendly, yet manage to challenge the most seasoned golfers. As players stand on the emerald fairways that contrast beautifully with golden prairie grasses, they feel like they’ve got the whole place to themselves. “Whether they know it or not,” says Taylor, “people appreciate something a little more natural. That makes them want to come back and play it again.” www.dakotadunes.ca www.sasktourism.com
For more great golfing and Aboriginal culture, try:
- Jackfish Lodge Golf & Conference Centre (www.jackfishlodge.com)
- White Bear Lake Golf Course (www.whitebeargolf.com)
- Last Oak Golf & Country Club (www.saskgolfer.com/lastoak/)
- Regina Beach Golf Course (306-729-4433)