The 15th hole at Banff Springs Golf Course, called Spray.
The 15th hole at Banff Springs Golf Course, called Spray. Shirley Sinclair

Golfing heaven found amid the Canadian Rockies

There's no fire and brimstone but the fourth hole at the Banff Springs Golf Course is called Devil's Cauldron for a reason.

It remains one of the most celebrated holes in the game, and one that Golf Magazine named among the world's top 18 holes. It may be only a short par three but the devil is in the detail.

The golf course designer Stanley Thompson (whose genius is worshipped and his legacy preserved through The Stanley Thompson Society) is quoted as saying of the hole: "I was commissioned to build the last word on golf.”

And there's no doubt many end up cursing that "last word”.

Step up to the elevated tee position - as thousands of golfers from all over the world have done over the past 90 years, and survey what lies in wait: 165 yards (just under 151m) from the men's markers to the flag, bunkers left and right, part of a glacial lake just short of the green and the imposing Mount Rundle cliff face to the right.

Anything can go wrong and even a good shot may not triumph, come judgment day.

A miss-hit off the tee at the Devil's Cauldron and you'll find yourself in a big pot of trouble and misery - landing "in the soup” or cooking your goose in a well-chiselled bunker.

And the green is like a bowl so fall short and you'll get your just deserts.

If the wind is blowing, all hell could break loose.

It's devilish fun trying to tame the wildly imaginative beast of a hole.

For a first-timer to the course in Canada's majestic Alberta Province, there was nothing more spiritually uplifting for my golfer husband than to hit a sweet tee shot with an eight iron, reaching the green on the full, and landing within a metre of the Devil's Cauldron pin.

Quite a thrill and almost in itself worth coming halfway around the globe to enjoy a morning round of 18 holes on this elegant course.

Most people travel to Banff to experience the Canadian Rockies in all their glory, summer and winter, or to experience its unrivalled skiing.

Visiting bucket-list destinations such as Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Peyto Lake along the Icefields Parkway road trip also is high on their priorities.

Not us. This friendly game of golf was the first thing we booked in Banff on our first trip to Canada - despite the cost being almost a third of a year's golf club membership fees back home.

But the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course is considered among the most scenic in the world - the Canadian Rockies in microcosm.

The beauty of the 27-hole championship layout (the 18-hole Stanley Thompson course and nine-hole Tunnel Mountain course) is in its challenging distractions.

Look left, right, in front and behind on any hole and the jaw-dropping panoramas are everywhere. No matter how bad a game you have, the scenery is your consolation prize as you drive around in the golf buggy beside the rapidly flowing Bow River or look up to the heavens as the medieval-like "Castle of the Rockies” - the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - comes into view on the back nine.

While Australian golfers may be used to wild animals of the duck, snake and kangaroo variety, here caribou, moose and bull elk - even grizzly bears - can be spotted in the trees or closer to the fairways, not to mention the cute prairie dogs: a type of ground squirrel which seem very family-oriented and love to stick their head up like meerkats in grass around the greens.

So Devil's Cauldron be damned. If there is a golf heaven, this is surely it.