Road Holes — 24 December 2012 by Bob Sherwin
Top Five: BC/Vancouver area

Where’s the best place to play golf on the West Coast? We’ll give you hundreds of choices.

Golferswest.com continues its annual assessment today of the Top Five courses to play within 12 West Coast states and British Columbia. The 25-part series focuses today on: British Columbia/Vancouver area.

NO. 1 COURSE: FURRY CREEK

LOCATION: Furry Creek, B.C.

DIRECTIONS FROM VANCOUVER: Take Route 99 over the Lions Gate Bridge and follow the ‘Sea-to-Sky’ Highway north. Pass through Lions Bay and Porteau until you reach Furry Creek. The drive is about 40 minutes.

PHONE: 888-922-9462

OPENED: 1993 (Architect: Robert Muir Graves)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: golfbc.com/courses/furrycreek

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,025 yards (three tee positions)

 

A spectacular setting for the 14th hole at Furry Creek

LOWDOWN: This may be a little shorter but that doesn’t make it easier. It’s a challenge because of precise tee shots and fast greens.

What you come away with is the spectacular scenery, mountains, lakes, firs and fauna. The course is closed in the winter, opening generally in May.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 14, par-3, 211 yards (pictured). There may not be a more scenic yet vexing hole in the country than this delicate par-3. The green is on the tip of a spit of land, water on three sides, rocky edges. Bunker on left, bunker in back. Breathtaking. You can bail out to the right but take the chance. Go for it. Take a picture and frame it in your man cave.

 

Nicklaus North in Whistler

NO. 2 COURSE: WHISTLER – NICKLAUS NORTH

LOCATION: Whistler, B.C.

DIRECTIONS FROM VANCOUVER: Take Route 99 north across the Lions Gate Bridge. It’s the ‘Sea-to-Sky’ Hwy to Whistler. Once you reach the city, take six traffic lights and as you travel over an overpass you’ll see the course on the right. Right on Nicklaus North Blvd.

PHONE: 800-386-9898

OPENED: 1996 (Architect: Jack Nicklaus)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site: golfbc.com/courses/nicklausnorth

LAYOUT: Par 71, 6,961 yards (three tee positions).

LOWDOWN: It’s a breath-taking mountain course, with tall pines, snow-capped peaks and large bodies of cold water. It’s closed in the winter, opening in May.

The course has played host to events such as the Skins Game and the Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf.

SIGNATURE: No. 17, par-3, 226 yards. Looking into a mountain range with water on the left and behind the golf. Bunkers on right and left. Few holes in the world are as spectacular. It should be in a frame.

NO. 3 COURSE: NORTHLANDS

LOCATION: North Vancouver, B.C.

 

Northlands Golf Club

DIRECTIONS FROM VANCOUVER: From Hastings St., get to Hwy 1 junction. Turn left and drive north over the Second Narrows Bridge. Take exit 22 onto Mt. Seymour Pkwy. And drive east. Look for the course signs.

PHONE: 604-924-2950

OPENED: 1998 (Architect: Les Furber)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site: golfnorthlands.com

LAYOUT: Par 71, 6,502 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Was voted the second best new Canadian course by Golf Digest when it opened in 1998. It was cut through and around a 100-year-old mountainside forest.

Water comes into play most often on the back nine. There are mountain views throughout the layout, in almost any direction you turn.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 4, par-5, 558yards. Spectacular waterfalls on the left-hand side as you approach the green. Virgin forests on left. Fairways narrows near the green.

NO. 4 COURSE: MAYFAIR LAKES

LOCATION: Richmond, B.C.

DIRECTIONS FROM VANCOUVER: Take Hwy 99 south to exit Shell Rd., south to Westminster Hwy. Then head east to No. 7 Rd. Turn left and head north toward the mountains. The course is on the right. It’s 10 minutes from Vancouver Airport.

PHONE: 800-446-5322

OPENED: 1989 (Architect: Les Furber)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site: golfbc.com/courses/mayfairlakes

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,641 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: You can be distracted here by the views of North Shore Mountains. It’s a lush layout, rolling fairways, stately trees and fast greens.

Open year round, Mayfair Lakes has an abundance of lakes and waterways that come into play on 13 of the 18 holes. It has hosted many national tour events and ranks as a favorite among tour professionals.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 15, par-3, 203. You might get the feeling you are on an island. There is water almost around you. You have to hit far enough to clear the water on the left but too far and you’re in the series of bunkers behind the hole. The green is ample. Pin placement is key.

 

Canyon of trouble at Tobiano

NO. 5 COURSE: TOBIANO

LOCATION: Kamloops

DIRECTIONS FROM VANCOUVER: It’s a 3 1/2-hour drive from Vancouver. Take Hwy-5 north to Kamloops. Turn left onto Trans-Canadian Highway/Hwy 97 along Kamloops Lake and look for Holloway Dr. Turn right. Course is on the left.

PHONE: 250-434-5858

OPENED: 2007 (Architect: Thomas McBroom)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site: http://www.tobiano.ca/

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7110 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Designed by famed Canadian architect Thomas McBroom, who has a long list of top 100 designs in the country. Tobiano is rated the 10th best course among the top 100 in Canada and the highest ranked B.C. public course.

It’s located in the Six Mile Ranch area near Kamloops, adjacent to Kamloops Lake. McBroom used the rugged terrain to weave the holes in and around the gentle mounds and rolling hills. Each hole is different, some target golf some wide-open ranges. It offers a challenge, variety and beauty to any golfer. The winds that sometimes whip through the Thompson River Valley can add another dimension to your game.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 8, par-5, 589 yards. Your tee shot needs to carry a canyon to a relative small landing area, and a large bunker offers a disincentive to the long bombers. Your second shots – and third need to be fairly straight – certainly not to the right as a cliff will make your ball disappear into Kamloops Lake. Your approach to the green has to be precise because the green is at the end of a plateau with trouble right and long and bunker left.

Bob Sherwin

TOMORROW: British Columbia/Vancouver Island 

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Bob Sherwin

Bob grew up in Cleveland, an underdog city with perennial underdog teams, and that gave him an appreciation and an affinity for the grinders in golf, guys such as Rocco Mediate, Jhonattan Vegas and star-crossed John Daly. This is the 44th year for Bob as a sportswriter, the first 34 working for newspapers throughout the west, Tucson (Daily Star), San Francisco (Examiner) and Seattle (Times), and the past 10 years as a freelancer. He has covered just about every sport, including golf tournaments, Tucson Open, Bing Crosby/AT&T Pro-Am, the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the annual Champions Tour Boeing Classic. He also writes articles for golf magazines. For most of his 20 years at the Seattle Times his primary beat was the Mariners. He then picked up Washington men's basketball in the winter. He also was the beat writer for the Sonics, including 1996 when they played the Bulls for the NBA title. After a lifetime hacking on public courses, he finally gave in and joined a country club in 2011, the Members Club of Aldarra near Seattle. He won't win the club championship any time soon with his 14 handicap and default-swing slice but he does have a pair of aces – 37 years apart – and in 2009 came agonizingly close to his ultimate golf goal of scoring in the 70s when he finished with an even 80. He lives in Seattle, and spends part of his winters in Marco Island, Fla.

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