Farm to golf course: a local family’s 83-year journey
Edgewater Hilltop Par 3 Golf & RV Park is a hidden Kootenay gem rich in history
By Jody Jacob
Nestled between the Rocky Mountains and Purcell Mountain ranges and carved from the Columbia Valley wild is Edgewater Hilltop Par 3 Golf & RV Park.
There’s a chance you’ve never heard of it. Unless you’re a long-time local, or one of the lucky few who have discovered this hidden golfing gem through the whisperings of a friend, it may just be the best nine-hole, par three golf course you didn’t know existed.
Located 12 km north from Radium Hot Spring on Highway 95, often the road less travelled by tourists and even local residents, Edgewater Hilltop Par 3 Golf & RV park spans nearly 40 acres of property, which has been owned by the Lautrup family since 1935.
Originally purchased by Valdemar and Dagny Lautrup, who immigrated to Canada from Denmark, the little piece of Rocky Mountain heaven was a family farm for almost 50 years.
“We’re a bit off the beaten path but once people find us they tend to return,” said George Lautrup, owner of Edgewater Hilltop Par 3 Golf & RV Park with his wife, Jeanette. “The property was originally a farm, but not necessarily one you lived off of. You always had to have another source of income. And it was a lot of work. You had to sew your crops and reap them and water every day. Tend to the animals. It was heavy work.”
Jeannette was always a golf enthusiast and played throughout her life. But it was actually George’s idea to turn the family property into a golf course.
“George never does anything without doing it properly – he has his reputation for building things extra strong, with extra care, and we knew if we were going to create it, it would be done right. We didn’t want a golf course that was a farmer’s field with a pin in it,” said Jeanette. “So, we had a land surveyor come out who had a lot of experience with golf courses, and he walked around with George, and he said, ‘yup, build it.’”
The last hay crop was taken off the farm in 1990. The fields were mowed for two years to allow the grass to matt and to set a good base. Construction started in 1992, with more than 100 truck-and-pup loads of fill brought in for the number nine green alone.
In 1994, Edgewater Hilltop Par 3 Golf Course was open for business and receiving good reviews.
“The fellow who helped us build the course recruited a professional from the Academy of Golf in Radium to come down and have a look at what we had done,” said Jeanette. “They said we had all the four things golf courses needed to have to be considered quality: a backdrop to see where the ball lands, challenge in play, diversity of elements, and scenic beauty. We were thrilled.”
Edgewater Hilltop Par 3 Golf Course features professional-quality tees and greens that utilize the ever-changing natural landscape and breath-taking views. Every hole is unique — there are elevated and two-level greens complete with sand traps and water hazards to keep play interesting. The mature course offers wide fairways, lush trees and natural backdrops that allow you to follow the path of your ball, from swing to drop.
“We are a true par three golf course, meaning, if you are on your game and playing your best, par is certainly achievable on every hole – it’s the perfect opportunity to sharpen your short game,” said Jeanette. “There’s this very calming sense of serenity on the course; it’s very peaceful. Various wildlife — from deer to bears, squirrels, birds – frequent the property.”
Visiting Edgewater Hilltop is about so much more than just playing golf. You are welcomed as though you are family. Original pictures of the farm, the transformation, and days gone by line the walls of the clubhouse and is a favourite conversation piece among visiting golfers.
Over the years, as more golf courses were established in the Columbia Valley and more tourists started to discover the area, Edgewater Hilltop Par 3 Golf & RV Park diversified, opening the RV Park in 2015.
“People who find us, often decide to stay for a while,” said Jeanette. “So, we built a beautiful RV park with seven full-serviced sites and an additional five un-serviced sites. And, of course, we also have a clubhouse – we serve homemade, feel-good food. Ask any local, and they’ll tell you a slice of our pie is heaven on a plate. We bake them fresh daily, with rhubarb and apples grown organically on site.”
Edgewater Hilltop Par 3 Golf and RV Park is entering its 24th golfing season. Recently, George and Jeanette’s daughter Gale returned home with her family to help run the business, making it four generations over 83 years who have lived on the land and dreamed of its possibilities.
For more information of Edgewater Hilltop Par 3 Golf & RV Park visit www.edgewaterhilltopgolf.com or find it on Facebook or Instagram.
Lead image: The first round of golf ever played at Edgewater Hilltop Par 3 Golf & RV Park was June 24, 1994. This picture was taken before the first swing on the first tee. L-R: Unknown, Jim Sharpet, George Lautrup, Stan Harrison, Bob Lister. Photos submitted