The Calgary Stampede
Josh Gardner has been in the golf industry for the past 20 years, although he had credible success as a hockey player as a youngster. While at Camosun College, Josh was a member of the golf team, and went on to win two Western Canadian College Golf League Championships before deciding to turn professional. He was an Assistant Professional at the Medicine Hat Golf & Country Club and later at the SilverTip Golf Resort. During the winter months he taught golf at Club Med in Mexico and the Bahamas, where he learned to speak French and Spanish. After a stint at the Eagle Butte Golf Academy, where he earned Class “A” status, Josh moved to Calgary to become Head Golf Professional and Golf Services Center Manager at the Canyon Meadows Golf & Country Club. Josh has had success as a player in Canada and has spent six years on the PGA of Alberta Board of Directors. With the Champions Tour headed to Calgary for the Shaw Charity Classic at Canyon Meadows, we asked Josh to give us the scoop on the city and here’s what he delivered
Livable -- We have everything here in Calgary. It’s one of the best places to live in my opinion. It’s a really clean city. You’ve got the Canadian Rockies for outdoor fun and the city for work. One minute you’re downtown in a skyscraper amongst the big city folks and 45 minutes later you’re sitting back in a rocking chair breathing the fresh mountain air having a cold one, feeling like you’ve gone back in time. You can ride your mountain bikes and play golf in the summer or get on the slopes and ski in the winter.
The Calgary Stampede
Icons -- We have about a million people in the city but when the Calgary Stampede is on in July, it’s fair to say another million people come here. The city goes crazy and the economic impact is gigantic. The ten-day rodeo and exhibition is over 100 years old. Downtown shuts down, and if you want to get any business done during those ten days – good luck – that doesn’t happen! Spruce Meadows is a leading international horse sports and show-jumping tournament. It’s a summer long event that is extremely popular. There are about five or six different events that come and go every other week. The Calgary Tower and the Canadian Rockies are the biggest things to see. The Calgary Tower has the highest 360 degree observation deck in the world and it has a restaurant at the top. During the Winter Olympics they had the flame burning at the top. They still light the flame every once in a while. Last year, for the100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede, they lit the flame. If the Calgary Flames win the Stanley Cup they would probably light the flame again. It’s like a huge version of the Olympic torch.
Industry -- Calgary is very strong in oil and gas operations. The energy sector is really the main industry, along with agriculture. It’s a mecca for that type of thing here. We have a strong education industry here, too. Calgary has lots of small businesses and trade schools as well. We have a lot of blue-collar workers who get out and get the work done.
Restaurants -- The Catch & Oyster Bar has some of the greatest seafood in town. It’s upscale, has some historical architecture combined with cutting edge interior design. The Chop Steakhouse & Bar has a terrific atmosphere, the hospitality and service are excellent and you can get some triple-A cuts of beef. The Alloy is a bit of everything. It’s fine dining and goes beyond just a night out for dinner. It has a really modern, funky, cool look inside. It’s upbeat with a mixture of Mediterranean and Asian-inspired cuisine. It’s generally an older crowd and a more upscale type of place. Hudson’s Canadian Tap House has more casual fair and a great patio for outdoor dining. They have darts and games and that type of thing. That would be my favorite pub, a very Canadian place. Their slogan is "the comfort of being at home with the enjoyment of being out." It really is just like that.
Olympics -- Calgary was the first Canadian city to host the Winter Olympics, in 1988, and as a result we now have the Canadian Olympic Park which also houses Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. The area serves as a training venue for a lot of competitive athletes, from hockey players and cross-country skiers in the winter, to mountain bikers in the summer. The Olympic Park has kind of created a community, or a lifestyle, for the mountain bikers.
Hockey -- Calgary is a very passionate place full of hockey enthusiasts. Especially with the Calgary Flames, our NHL team, but minor hockey is also huge with all the kids here. There is a bar in the city called Flames Central, which is built in an old theater, where people gather to take in Flames games if they can’t secure tickets. After each game the city streets fill up with fans coming out of the Saddledome, the home of the Calgary Flames, and the bars fill up with fans wearing red Flames jerseys, or opposing team jerseys. All the pubs and bars have special nights whenever the Flames games are on.
Attractions -- There is a strong arts community in Calgary. I’ve attended the Alberta Ballet and the Calgary Opera at the Jube as the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium is known locally. The Glenbow Museum is the largest in western Canada. It focuses on the history of Calgary and they have some wonderful historic artifacts. The Calgary Zoo is also a neat tourist attraction. Heritage Park Historical Village is a really cool place, especially if you go with kids. It’s like old-town Calgary. You go through the gates and it feels like you’ve gone back in time. They have rides on working historical vehicles like steam trains and paddle steamers. There’s replica buildings and an area where you can see how cows were milked in the old days and how sheep were shorn. You can watch them produce horseshoes and experience what life was like well before any of us existed.
Golf -- Of course, Canyon Meadows is hosting the Shaw Charity Classic and everyone is excited about the Champions Tour coming to Calgary. A public course I would recommend would be Heritage Pointe. It’s a links-style course amongst a mountain setting and it always has very good greens and is a quality place to play. As far as a private course goes, it’s pretty difficult to get on unless you know someone, but the Calgary G & CC is a fabulous place to play. A semi-private course to experience would be Redwood Meadows. It’s built at the base of the Rockies and has pristine views. A lot of the holes are located alongside the river and you always see a lot of different wildlife. It’s a really good challenge too. It’s hosted a few Web.com Tour events in its time. If you want to travel a little bit out of Calgary towards the mountains, now you’re talking Banff Springs. The Resort there is a fabulous place. I’d call that an extreme mountain experience. Also, just a little north of Calgary is Jasper. Jasper Park Lodge is unbelievable. It’s my No. 1 course to play.