VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC – It is tough to beat island life. No, you are not in the Caribbean on some desolute island– but Vancouver Island in BC, Canada could be even better. The British Columbia wines, amazing scenery and friendly locales make Vancouver Island a top-rated getaway for your golf vacation.
For golfers, there’s no better way to discover BC’s temperate Pacific island than the Vancouver Island Golf Trail. The 10-course itinerary (soon to be 12) gives you the gamut – Canadian Rockies landscapes to ocean views, world-class designs to low-profile finds – Vancouver Island, BC has it all and with almost all green fees under $75.
The relative difficulty of getting here (by small plane or two-plus-hour ferry from Seattle or Vancouver) and the island’s length – 460 kilometers – can make the Vancouver Island Trail seem a bit remote and sprawling. But it’s well worth the effort and will only get more so as high-profile new courses come to this region of British Columbia.
“The best way to tackle all or part is to divide Vancouver Island into four quadrants – Victoria, the Cowichan Valley, up-island and North Island, each about an hour apart from the others,” according to Paul Slice, a BC golf expert.
Popular Golf Courses in Victoria, BC
The most popular weekend golf package on the trail is the trio of BC’s Victoria-area courses, highlighted by Jack and Steve Nicklaus’ Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club, a 7,083-yard monster with cavernous bunkers and wetlands hazards fronting many its massive greens.
The other courses are both Bill Robinson designs, though they are not similar golf courses.
Olympic View Golf Club meanders 6,534 yards through rolling terrain, peaking at the par-4 17th, with its 60-foot waterfall behind the green to help make it one of the most picturesque targets on BC, Canada’s golf scene.
“It is probably my favorite hole on the Vancouver Island Golf Trail,” said James Robinson, Canadian Rockies golf expert. “I have played almost every course in BC while on various golf vacations, and this really stands out.”
The 6,168-yard, par-70 Arbutus Ridge Golf and Country Club seems a bit wedged in among the surrounding homes, but there are highlights here, especially the peninsula green at the par-3 17th and the arduous, uphill par-4 18th.
Finding a home base in British Columbia’s capital won’t be hard; choosing one will be. The Delta Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa and the Victoria Regent Hotel are good options in downtown Victoria. The Westin Bear Mountain, opened in May 2006, is about 20 minutes from central Victoria.
Best Golf Courses in Cowichan Valley, BC
Two trail courses lie in the rural Cowichan Valley about 45 minutes north of Victoria on the island’s eastern shore.
Cowichan Golf and Country Club in Duncan is the easiest course on the trail, running 6,189 yards with a 118-slope rating. The 6,616-yard Duncan Meadows mixes links-like and parkland holes.
The Cliffs Over Maple Bay, a 6,891-yard Greg Norman layout managed by Troon Golf, opened in 2008.
Morningstar International, Pheasant Glen, Fairwinds
The 7,018-yard Morningstar International Golf Course, host to the Canadian Tour Qualifying School and the 2007 BC Amateur, will challenge the best players on your golf vacation.
Though shorter, 6,570-yard Pheasant Glen Golf Resort and 6,151-yard Fairwinds are solid tests brimming with personality. Just minutes from Fairwinds, the Schooner Cove Resort on edge of BC’s Nanoose Peninsula offers ocean views and a 360-slip marina.
Pheasant Glen is a property in transition. New owners completely redesigned the back nine of the former Glengarry Golf Links, and a new clubhouse, accommodations, spa, fitness center and pool are in the works. The respected Brent Morrison Golf Academy attracts junior players from around the world.
But the most memorable part of an up-island visit is a stay at the beautiful Tigh Na Mara Seaside Spa Resort in Parksville, BC near Morningstar. All 192 units spread among the resort’s 22 acres are hand-built with real fir and cedar logs.
The resort’s beach is secluded and scenic. The Grotto Spa, the largest resort spa in British Columbia, houses a hot tub and a 2,500-square-foot mineral bath, fed by a two-story waterfall. A $1 million pool/recreation facility is on tap.
Excellent Golf on North Island at Courtenay, BC
Those who stretch their trip to the northern tip of the trail will find two Golf Digest four-star courses, Storey Creek Golf Club just south of the seaside town of Campbell River and Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community in Courtenay, BC. Crown Isle’s fairway villas are a good place to rest your head.
Great Seafood on Vancouver Island
Island dining relies on an abundance of fresh seafood, and you can find quality across the board. Even the clubhouses of Arbutus Ridge and Olympic View boast chefs who can rival those at full-service restaurants.
In Victoria, BC the LURE Seafood Restaurant and Bar at the Delta Ocean Pointe looks across the harbor through floor-to-ceiling windows and offers seafood as good as the view. Panache at the Westin Bear Mountain serves steak and prime rib, but there’s a tasty surprise on its menu: a side plate of macaroni and cheese. Yes, it’s true: mac ‘n’ cheese at a 5-star joint. Up-island, BC’s Tigh Na Mara augmented its new Grotto Spa with Treetop Tapas and Grill, a third-floor banquet room serving up exotic spa cuisine.
“After playing 18 holes, our foursome goes to LURE because it really does have some of the freshest seafood in BC,” said Robinson. “It is one of British Columbia’s gems. Anytime I plan a golf vacation to BC, I make sure to hit up the Vancouver Island Golf Trail.”
Golf Canada’s West is the official golf course, tee time and golf packaging company of Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies. Call them at 877-323-3633. For additional information be sure to check out GolfTheRockies.net. For more BC and Alberta vacation and tourism information, please visit Banff National Park.com and Banff Travel.com.