Golf in British Columbia – The Par-Fect Province

Once upon a time in the twelfth century, four Scottish shepherds were having a particularly boring day…

As they followed their sheep from pasture to pasture, they occupied themselves by knocking stones into rabbit holes with their staffs. Naturally, things became more and more competitive as they began aiming for rabbit holes further away and the object of the game crystallized: to get your particular stone into the rabbit hole in the least number of swings…

Give or take a minor detail, this is the legend according to the old stalwarts at St. Andrews, although some scholars hold that the ancient Egyptians and Chinese respectively enjoyed varying versions of this contest. Whatever the case may be, we can agree that the windswept moors of Northern Britain were the birthplace of the modern game we so affectionately refer to simply as golf. It was the Scots who drafted up the first set of rules, who first created the clubs, the balls and the first actual course and who first made this now internationally played sport a success. Other than single malt whiskey, golf stands as their most popular export.

Fast forward to the present day. In these, the early years of the twenty first century, the countries with the most golf courses per capita are Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, Wales, the United States, Sweden and England. It’s no surprise that Canada makes the top-ten list. Its vast expanses of wide open, ever changing terrain are a course designers dream. The only problem is that seventy percent of the country closes down for a large chunk of the calendar year to accommodate the nasty arctic outflows that turn much of the Great White North into… the Great White North. But God’s a golfer too, which is why he made British Columbia – a lush province with a sweeping variety of gorgeous terrain and a mostly temperate climate that allows for a comfortable 18 holes nine months-a-year.

British Columbia has over 250 golf courses, many which are award-winning and professionally designed, some which rank among the top in North America. But whatever your caliber, however you play, there’s a fairway for you and a tee-time with your name all over it. Pack your clubs, here’s a cross-province cross-section…

The capital city of Victoria is known for its British heritage and beautifully scenic golf courses. Situated on the east coast of Vancouver Island, the sister courses of Uplands Golf Course and the Victoria Golf Club while both very exclusive, offer some of the finest panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the distant American Olympic Range. Even if you don’t manage to play a round at either of these courses, treat yourself to a drive along Scenic Beach Drive, the coastal two-lane road that runs through the centre of both courses. Just outside of Victoria in the city of Langford, Bear Mountain Golf & Country Club situated on Mount Finlayson’s foothills and valley floor is Canada’s first 36-hole course and comes courtesy of Jack and Steve Nicklaus. Bear Mountain is a multi-million dollar resort and community as well which comes complete with swimming facilities, walking, hiking and biking trails, boutiques, bistros, coffeehouses and even an outdoor amphitheatre. Other popular Victoria courses include Glen Meadow Golf and Country Club, Ardmore Golf Course, Sunshine Hills Golf Course, Cordova Bay Golf Course and Prospect Lake Golf Course. Less than an hour drive west of Victoria, the Western Communities offer their own variety of stunning links, many with glorious views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean, such as John Phillips Memorial Golf Course, Metchosin Golf Course, Olympic View Golf Club, Royal Colwood Golf Club or Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club.

North of Victoria, the rest of Vancouver Island is peppered with fantastic courses. The Cowichan Valley area enjoys a unique micro-climate that consistently provides the area with temperatures 4 or 5 degrees warmer than Victoria. Naturally, it’s a favourite with golfers who come from near and far to enjoy such courses as Cowichan Golf and Country Club and Duncan Meadows Golf Course in Duncan, Mount Breton Golf Club in Chemainus and Arbutus Ridge Golf and Country Club near Cobble Hill.
Don’t worry if you don’t plan on making it over to the island this vacation. The Mainland has more golfing choices than you could shake a 9-iron at. Even the commercial hub of Richmond with its strip malls and car dealerships manages to reserve a few acres for exclusive clubs like Richmond Golf & Country Club, Quilchena Golf & Country Club or the Les Furber-designed Mayfair Lakes Golf & Country Club, an 18-hole course with fast, well-protected greens and lush fairways. Other popular courses include the Green Acres Golf Course, Mylora Golf Course and Country Meadows Golf Course.
Vancouver proper is home to some truly beautiful courses. Visit the city’s Westside and you’ll encounter such gems as University Golf Club, McLeery Golf Course, Marine Drive Golf Club, Point Grey Golf and Country Club and Musqueam Golf Course. Just over the Lions Gate Bridge in West Vancouver and North Vancouver you’ll find fantastic North Shore clubs with the trademark city skyline vistas the area is known for. Ambleside Pitch and Putt Golf Course, Gleneagles Golf Club, Langara Golf Club, Northlands Golf Course, the semi-private Seymour Golf & Country Club, even the Murdo Frazer Par 3 Golf Course…

You won’t have to drive much more than an hour up the Sea to Sky Highway before options start appearing between the soaring mountains and the twinkling waters of the Howe Sound. Furry Creek Golf and Country Club is one such idyllic destination but just down the road the Robert Cupp-designed Big Sky Golf and Country Club is just as appealing. Of course, the internationally-acclaimed alpine resort of Whistler has courses in a class of their own. The Whistler Golf Club, is a challenging Arnold Palmer original while Nicklaus North Golf Course is the brainchild of his professional colleague. For a truly authentic mountain golf experience, be sure to visit the mountain bluffs and waterfalls of the Chateau Whistler Golf Club. Other area choices include Pemberton Valley Golf & Country Club, Squamish Valley Golf & Country Club and Garibaldi Springs.

The arid rolling desert of the interior makes for some fantastic golfing, if you’re okay with staying under par in some serious heat. Summers can get super hot here, but despite the parched, yellow earth, the greens stay green and more importantly, the drinks stay cool at the nineteenth hole. If you find yourself in the Thompson Okanagan, be sure to visit Nkmip Canyon Golf Course, Osoyoos Golf and Country Club, Tobiano Golf, Fairview Mountain Golf Club, and Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club.

The Scottish may have invented golf, but British Columbia made it irresistible!

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