What sets many golf courses apart is frequently determined by playability and atmosphere. Whether it is impeccably manicured greens and fairways, or an inviting 19th hole, the unique aspects of each course contribute to its popularity.
The St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino in Cranbrook, B.C., is no exception. St. Eugene wants to be able to educate people on the Ktunaxa and Aboriginal people as a whole, and several years ago all 18 holes on our championship golf course were named in the Ktunaxa language—with phonetic spelling and translation. St. Eugene sees it as something unique we can offer as part of the entire experience you are just not going to find anywhere else. Through a coordinated effort by staff and Ktunaxa elders, golfers at the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino can learn a few words in Ktunaxa as they play a round of golf. The tee box markers throughout the golf course have been in keeping with the Ktunaxa culture, the nature of the course and the overarching environmental ethos of the resort, the hole names reflect far more than distance and shape.
In fact, the Ktunaxa names chosen for the holes show an intimate knowledge of the environment that developed over 10,000 years of Aboriginal history and 11 years of first-hand experience with the course. For Graeme Douglas, CGSA, Manager, Golf and Hotel Facilities, the path to creating the markers started with the inspiring phrase, “The Ktunaxa language has no word for extinct. Let’s keep it that way.”
Since the course’s inception, according to Douglas, the resort has always worked to diligently preserve the environment by leaving wildlife corridors, buffer zones, and paths to water, and taking other measures to reduce its impact on the area. But renaming the holes wasn’t as easy as coming up with a fitting name. The Ktunaxa written language, like many Aboriginal written languages across this country, is a new and evolving initiative. In fact, until 1979 the Ktunaxa language had no written lexicon. Many Ktunaxa elders feel that if we don’t do what we can to preserve what we know, and hopefully pass it on to the younger generation, this language will eventually become extinct.