Golf in Your Element in British Columbia

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PredatorRidge1

The ancient Greeks believed everything was made up of earth, water, fire, and air. Today, if golf means everything to you, you’ll be right in your element on golf courses amid spectacular, dramatic scenery all over British Columbia. From forested greens to links surrounded by lakes, let’s discover how to get in the swing of things, using the four elements as our guide.

This magnificent province in Western Canada is home to more than 300 golf courses. Pick and choose what appeals to you most – there’s enough golfing here to last a lifetime.

Earth

PredatorRidge2 Predator Ridge, located in Vernon, doubles as the summer home of Hockey Canada. Photo: Predator Ridge

Golf course designers have carved many masterpieces from the natural element of earth. A prime example is Predator Ridge. The 36-hole golf resort community near Vernon was recently voted BC’s best public course by a Vancouver Sun expert panel. Undulating greens and rolling Okanagan Valley hills mark the par-71, Les Furber-designed Predator Course, which hosted superstars like Greg Norman and Fred Couples at two Skins Games.

If you crave dramatic elevation changes and sweeping fairways amid granite rock outcroppings, the neighbouring Ridge Course beckons irresistibly. Kris Jonasson, executive director of British Columbia Golf, told the Vancouver Sun: “It combines the best of meadows, woodlands and mountain terrains with outstanding lake views to create a memorable day. The weather is generally exceptional, and in my mind it is the must-play course in BC.”

Another can’t-miss golf destination is Bear Mountain on Vancouver Island. This beautiful, upscale resort outside Victoria features two Jack Nicklaus-designed courses, showcasing earth’s glory. On the Mountain Course’s 14th hole, golfers face the snowy splendor of Mount Baker and the provincial capital’s striking skyline as they tee off. With wide fairways, sweeping greens, and elevated tee boxes, the par-71 Valley Course is ideal for hackers and pros alike.

Whistler is Canada’s top-ranked ski mecca

, but the host mountain resort of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games delivers equally exceptional golfing.

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s golf course is carved right out of the side of Blackcomb Mountain. Dotted with huge Douglas firs, ravines, waterfalls and deep bunkers, the par-72, 6,635-yard course is a revelation. Husband and wife Mike and Noreen Unsworth of West Vancouver scored consecutive holes-in-one here in 2014. For nature lovers, the prospect of seeing black bears or deer trot across the grass is an additional bonus. Bring your camera.

Water

FurryCreek1 Furry Creek Golf & Country Club boasts a spectacular setting, facing Howe Sound. Photo: Furry Creek

Golfers average 10,000 steps while completing a round of golf – and every step on BC ground is spectacular. Yet this province also boasts some supernatural water features.

Located off the majestic Sea-to-Sky Highway that connects Vancouver and Whistler, the par-3, 14th hole at Furry Creek Golf & Country Club has been nicknamed “Tee to Sea.” A small, green peninsula curves picturesquely out into the pristine ocean waters of Howe Sound. GolfersWest.com writer Bob Sherwin called it “breathtaking.” Choosing the right club here is vital, since the wind affects how players best approach the hole.

Nearby, the signature Hole 17 at Nicklaus North in Whistler tempts golfers who love a challenge as well as a superlative lake view with a Coast Mountains backdrop. This par-3, which measures 226 yards from the back tees, is surrounded by Green Lake’s sparkling waters. The shot is to bail right, away from the water, and try to get up and down for par.

For another fantastic lake view, head to Talking Rock Golf Resort. Nestled on First Nations territory near Salmon Arm in BC’s Interior, it’s a source of pride for the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band. The forested par-72 course, closely based on the natural landscape, culminates with an amazingly scenic 18th hole on the lake’s north shore.

Further afield, the Riverside Golf Course at the Fairmont Hot Springs is a true watery wonder. Surrounded by awe-inspiring Rocky Mountain wilderness in southeastern BC, the 18-hole course founded in 1988 crosses the Columbia River a whopping six times. In 2014, a video of a baby bear playing with a golf flag and stealing a golf ball here went viral on YouTube.

In the market for a man-made waterfall? Think West Coast. Victoria’s Olympic View Club is about as gorgeous as it gets. Known for its tranquil vibe, arbutus trees, and eagles soaring overhead, the oceanside course features a cascading 40-foot-high waterfall toward which players tee on the 17th hole.

Fire

Tobiano1 It’s easy to get fired up about golfing at The Dunes at Kamloops Golf Club. Photo: Kamloops Golf Club

The element of fire brings to mind warm temperatures, and those are certainly in evidence at Predator Ridge in Vernon, where the sun’s rays turn the tall, windswept fescue grass a golden hue in September.

If you want to heat things up a little more, you can explore the northern tip of the Sonoran Desert near Kamloops. The lush greens and fairways at The Dunes at Kamloops Golf Club lie atop the sandy former bed of the North Thompson River. The 7,131-yard course was designed by award-winning architect Graham Cooke.

Another hot Kamloops alternative is the 2007-launched Tobiano, which was hailed by SCOREGolf writer Bob Weeks as possibly “the best new course I’ve seen in Canada. Ever. Period.” At this par-72, Thomas McBroom-designed course on the historic site of Six Mile Ranch, bluffs, ravines, and sentinel hoodoos adorn the back nine. Don’t miss the 10,000-square-foot clubhouse and well-stocked golf shop.

Air

BigSky1 At the base of Mount Currie lies Big Sky Golf Club, minutes away from Whistler. Photo: Big Sky Golf Club

Want to take your game to new heights? The element of air is at play in the Kootenay Rockies, where some golf courses are so high in elevation that you actually have to club down.

Case in point: Panorama’s Greywolf Golf Course, situated at nearly 4,000 feet. The sixth hole, entitled “Cliffhanger,” has been dubbed “one of the most exhilarating par-3’s in all of golf” by WorldGolf.com reviewer Andrew Penner. It’s located on a granite plateau across a small canyon.

The award-winning Trickle Creek Golf Course in Kimberley integrates the steep slopes of North Star Mountain and the area’s rushing creeks to perfection. This Les Furber-designed 18-hole course is steps away from the luxurious Trickle Creek Lodge, where you can chill out in the outdoor pool or hot tub after (hopefully) soaring through a round of golf.

At Sun Peaks Resort, just a four-hour drive from Vancouver outside Kamloops, the golf course is British Columbia’s highest. The par-four Hole 16 offers a special airy thrill, as the tee sits at 4,353 feet, with a jaw-dropping view of the Sun Peaks village and Mount Morrisey in the background.

And naturally, Whistler’s mountain-ringed courses offer a chance to breathe some rarefied air indeed. Along with the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club and Nicklaus North, the Whistler Golf Club stands out as the first Canadian championship course ever designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer. The par-71, 6,122-yard course is distinguished by its sweeping fairways fringed by huge old-growth cedars and firs. Big Sky Golf Club, just a 20-minute drive north of Whistler in the Pemberton Valley, sits at the base of towering Mount Currie, and it’s beautifully manicured with bent grass fairways, greens, and tees.

Earth, water, fire, and air. Perhaps that combination of words previously evoked images of ancient Greek philosophers – or 1970’s disco. But in the future, you can take it as inspiration to keep exploring British Columbia’s great collection of golf courses.

For more information on BC golf courses, check out GolfinBritishColumbia.com.

About the Author: Lucas Aykroyd

Lucas Aykroyd is an award-winning Vancouver travel writer and public speaker. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and National Geographic Traveler. To engage his services, visitlucasaykroyd.com.

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