Tales From The Trail

Father’s Day Golf Adventures on Vancouver Island18-05-16

Father's Day Golfing Adventures on Vancouver Island

Father’s Day is fast approaching. (Ahem – it’s June 19th, for those of you who need reminding; you know who you are!) Fortunately, for those of us whose dads play golf, gift ideas are stress-free and plentiful. The saying “Thanks for making it so easy to get you a Father’s Day gift due to your psychotic love of golf” isn’t a Father’s Day card favourite for nothing!

This is even truer on the Vancouver Island Golf Trail. Here, Father’s Day golfing gifts and experiences are so vast and varied, even dads who aren’t complete golf-psychos are covered. Tee up one of these unique Vancouver Island experiences to try out with Dad this Father’s Day for the best Father’s Day gift by par. Erm, far.

Disclaimer: We hold no responsibility for setting the bar so high that next year becomes a problem.

Gone Fishin’

April Point Resort

April Point Resort on Quadra Island

You know what’s better than spending an afternoon on the golf course with your old man? A morning spent on the water with your old man and a couple of rods, followed by an afternoon spent on the golf course with your old man and a set of sticks.

June is the beginning of peak season for sport fishing in the waters off Vancouver Island. There is an abundance of salmon while halibut of up to 600 lbs have been caught in the local waters during the summer season. Which means Father’s Day is the perfect time to book one of our Fins and Skins Packages including both golf and fishing! Whether you start your day in Victoria’s inner harbour or further north in Campbell River, we’ve got a package built for some serious Father’s Day-gift bragging rights.

Even if the big ones and the birdies get away from you, this is a Father’s Day adventure your dad will speak of for years to come.

Brew Romance

Victoria Ale Trail

Beer + Golf = Perfect Twosome

Golf and beer have long been the ultimate twosome (much like you and Dad). A cold brew in hand after a great (or not-so-great) round? Probably one of the best feelings in the game. Other than that incredible birdie, of course. Or eagle. Or hole-in-one. Or that 300-yard drive you nailed. We digress – but you see where we’re going with this. Now imagine pairing your round with an entire Ale Trail… That’s one Father’s Day gift experience we – and no doubt your dad – can really get behind.

Spend your morning playing any one of the courses five courses within a half-hour drive from Victoria, then spend your afternoon discovering Victoria’s Ale Trail.

Victoria is home to several micro-breweries – all within walking distance around the city’s harbours and downtown core. From Vancouver Island’s very first craft brewery, the multiple award winning Vancouver Island Brewery on Government Street, to smaller brewpubs like Canoe Brewpub & Restaurant, Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub or Buckerfield’s Brewery at Swans, both you and Dad are sure to find at least one brew you can both agree on – even if you can’t agree on each others’ scorecards.

Into the Wild

Wild off the tee on Vancouver Island

Get wild off the tee on #VIGolfTrail

Not everyone is into fishing. Some even find it – gasp – boring. If your dad is one of these why not get a little wild off the tee with him?

Pair your round of golf with a side of whale watching. Is your Dad even more adventurous? Victoria boasts some of the world’s best scuba diving, just blocks from downtown. True story. Tee it up in the morning and hit the fairways, then suit up in the afternoon and hit the seafloor.

Or just hit the beach after your round for a spot of sun and sand. Vancouver Island boasts some of the best bunkers – erm, beaches – anywhere.

High Tech Hitting

Don’t have time to get away from it all to spend some quality time with your old man? No worries – we’ve got your Father’s Day gift covered too with some fancy new golf gadgets guaranteed to improve his game and ensure he forgets you had to bail on playing golf with him on Father’s Day!

Zepp 2 Golf Sensor Give Dad the gift of a better swing. (Top tip: Just don’t tell him it’s because his swing sucks.) This small yellow clip attaches to the golf club and measures everything from speed of rotation to the angle of backswing. The accompanying app allows Dad to compare his swing to that of a professional! It will also diagnose areas he can improve, with a range of pro golfers providing personalised feedback based on the results.

Self-V Fairway Headcover

Videotape your swing – no help required!

Self-V Fairway Headcover Also on the swing side of things, the Self-V Fairway Headcover allows Dad to videotape his swing on the golf course, when there is no-one around to do it for him (ahem – like his son or daughter on Father’s Day). This handy-dandy product from Swing Snap Golf has a phone placeholder in its headcover: all Dad has to do is set his golf bag at the angle he wants to tape his swing, press play on his phone’s camera and he’s all set.

BioMech Putting App So your dad swings like a king but his putts? Well, that’s another story! Here’s something that will have him holing birdies no problem. Developed by the team at BioMech Sports, this app features a sensor that clips to the shaft of any putter to measure an array of elements in the putting stroke, including face angle, swing path and acceleration. The app then analyzes any flaws in real time and can be programmed to instantly alert the golfer with lights or a tone when you make a wrong move, like decelerating.

PowaKaddy 2015 FW3 Your dad may still play golf better than you, but he’s not getting any younger and, unlike the pros, he doesn’t have a caddy on hand to carry his clubs around for him. This electric caddy can be set to trundle up to 45 yards all by itself while he plays his shot.

Finally, if all else fails, just remember that nothing beats a few hours spent bonding on the golf course with Dad. And with the Vancouver Island Golf Trail right on your doorstep – with 12 phenomenal courses to choose from – we’d say you and your dad are pretty much all set for a great golfing Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all the golfing Dads, Dads of golfers and golf-mad Dads out there. We hope at the very least you get a round of golf in on the day – whether as an adventure with your kids or as an escape from them!

Vancouver Island’s Bear Mountain Resort named host of 2016 Pacific Links Championship06-05-16

PGA Tour Event On Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island golf resort to host PGA TOUR Champions event in September, 2016

From Media Release May 6, 2016

PGA Tour Event On Vancouver IslandPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – PGA TOUR Champions and Pacific Links International announced today that the 2016 Pacific Links Championship, originally set to be contested in Tianjin, China, has moved to Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria, British Columbia. The tournament dates will remain September 19-25, with the field increasing from 60 players to 81 players, and the purse remaining $2.5 million.

“Bear Mountain Golf Resort is an incredible property, offering not only great golf, but an impressive variety of activities and accommodations,” said Mr. Du, Owner & Chairman of Pacific Links International. “Western Canada is a prime travel destination with attractions that include the internationally prized wine region of the Okanagan Valley, the cosmopolitan coastal city of Vancouver, Vancouver Island and to the east Jasper and Banff National Parks in the Canadian Rockies. We are proud to showcase Bear Mountain and the entire travel destination of spectacular British Columbia by bringing this special event to Victoria.”

Tournament play at the Pacific Links Championship will be held on the Mountain Course at Bear Mountain Resort, which opened for play in 2003.

The Jack & Steve Nicklaus co-design sits just minutes from Victoria’s downtown harbor, and is one of two Nicklaus Design courses at the resort. The Mountain Course sits at the base of Mount Finlayson, and features panoramic city, ocean and mountain views throughout.

“We are delighted that PGA TOUR Champions and Pacific Links have chosen Bear Mountain to host this event, and at such an important time of the year in the Tour’s schedule,” said World Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Nicklaus. “Players and fans will find that this is an incredible backdrop for golf, with gorgeous mountains framing the resort and spectacular vistas from many holes. It also made for a terrific canvas on which Steve and I could create a challenging but memorable resort golf experience. I hope the competitors will enjoy the experience as much as Steve and I did designing it.”

“Bear Mountain is honored to be a part of Pacific Links’ PGA TOUR Champions event,” said Dan Matthews, President and CEO, Ecoasis Developments LLP. “Hosting The Pacific Links Championship at Bear Mountain will enable us to showcase Canada’s only 36 holes of Nicklaus Design golf and go a long way in supporting our goal to demonstrate why we are fast becoming the finest golf resort community in Canada.”

The tournament will give PGA TOUR Champions two events in golf-rich Canada during a four-week stretch, pairing with the Shaw Charity Classic on September 2-4 to provide an exciting late-season run up to the inaugural Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs this fall.

In addition to the Pacific Links Championship, Victoria serves as host of the Bayview Place Island Savings Open presented by Times Colonist, a Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada event operated by the Island Open Golf Society for 33 years. The event’s past champions include Steve Stricker (1990), who is set to make his PGA TOUR Champions debut in early 2017, and current PGA TOUR Champions member Mike Grob (2006). Victoria native and Tour member Jim Rutledge has served as the event’s Honorary Chairman since 2014.

“Pacific Links International has been a wonderful partner for PGA TOUR Champions, and we are confident that Bear Mountain Resort will provide a championship-caliber setting for one of our premier events,” said PGA TOUR Champions President Greg McLaughlin. “The passion for golf is strong in British Columbia, and should make for a wonderful tournament week atmosphere for our fans and players.”

From 2012-14, PGA TOUR Champions held the Pacific Links Hawai’i Championship at Kapolei Golf Club on Oahu. Following the 2014 tournament, Pacific Links announced it was moving the 2015 tournament to Tianjin, China, to be played at the company’s flagship course in Asia, The 27 Club. Tragically, in August, a factory explosion in the port area of Tianjin forced the cancellation of the event, with officials making the decision just weeks prior to tournament week out of respect for the hundreds of victims of the tragedy.

Pacific Links and the PGA TOUR remain committed to holding a PGA TOUR Champions tournament in Tianjin, but due to ongoing challenges in the city associated with the explosion, the joint decision was made to move the 2016 event to British Columbia.

Tournament week in Victoria will begin with pro-ams on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by 54 holes of tournament play from Friday through Sunday, with no cut. All three rounds will be broadcast on Golf Channel.

For more information on the Pacific Links Championship or PGA TOUR Champions, please visit www.PGATOUR.com/Champions.

Vancouver Island Spring Golf14-01-16

Spring on VI by Deanne Gillespie

January. Bleurgh.

Never fear; Spring is near. Well, on Vancouver Island anyway. Did you know that the average temperature on the Island come February hovers around 9°C? Even better, in March it’s more like 12°C! (Most days.) Head east to Alberta and Ontario, and you’re looking at around 5. (Maybe. On a really, really good day.) As for the Prairies… Well, the less said the better.

Of course, with all this bounty of beautiful, snow-free weather comes something else to smile about: Spring golf.

As one of the very few destinations in Canada where golf courses are actually open, golfing on Vancouver Island offers the pent up, mid-winter golfer everything he or she could wish for. Lush green fairways. Barely a blade of winter kill to be found. Sunny skies. Temperatures that often allow for short sleeves. And, given that nearly all the golf courses on Vancouver Island are year-round, the quality of golf you’re going to get is pretty much unrivalled: you’re looking at near-summer playing conditions as early as March! Plus, if you’re a Canadian looking to cure golf fever somewhere tropical, you’re not going to run into the hazard that is the current US exchange rate. Why make everything 40% more expensive by venturing across the border when you’ve got the perfect lie right here at home? (Hey, US golfers: everything here is 40% cheaper. Just saying.)

So here’s a thought: skip the January blahs and start dreaming about your Spring golfing trip to Vancouver Island instead. You don’t even have to plan a thing, we’ve done it all for you:

Morningstar Golf

Golf at Morningstar

Woods and whales

Play golf: Head for Parksville and Qualicum Beach if it’s an oceanside Spring escape you’re after. Here you’ll find three wonderful oceanside golf courses in Fairwinds Golf ClubMorningstar Golf Club and Pheasant Glen Golf Resort. We’ve even set up a really great Parksville Spring Beach & Golf Special for you – three Rounds of Golf (one at each of the above courses) & two Nights Stay for just $399 pp. All you have to do is show up!

Play tourist: Just two and a half hours northwest of Parksville lies Tofino where, come spring, whale watching is the sport of choice. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see grey whales at play. Bonus round: the Pacific Rim Whale Festival runs from March 12-27th, 2016.

Highland Pacific Golf

Golf at Highland Pacific

Fairways and flowers

Play tourist: While most of Canada is still shivering under a blanket of snow, Vancouver Island is already awash with blossoms – Greater Victoria boasts an annual bloom count of over a billion! (Did you know the Greater Victoria Flower Count is an actual thing – it takes place in March…) So get out and smell the cherry blossoms…

Play golf: While you’re at it, why not take in a round or five at the four fantastic golf courses no more than half an hour’s drive from the city centre. Highland Pacific, Bear Mountain, Arbutus Ridge and Olympic View all boast challenging, invigorating golf guaranteed to get you back into the swing of things. Take advantage of our low season Golf Fever Getaway steal if you can’t decide which course to play. We won’t tell anyone if you give the whole flower counting thing a skip.

Bear Mountain Golf

Golf at Bear Mountain

Balls and bikes (and birdies, hopefully!)

Play golf: One venue, two spectacular courses… Bear Mountain Resort offers 36 holes of Jack Nicklaus designed golf. (It is the only 36 holes of Nicklaus Design golf in Canada by the way.) It has also just been named as the official national training centre and headquarters of Cycling Canada and Golf Canada. Aside from national pride what does this mean for the rest of us comparably plebeian golfers? Erm, if it’s good enough for our national squad to train there year round, it’s more than good enough for us. Expect prime Spring golfing conditions. And Summer, Winter and Autumn.

Play tourist: Play golf at Canada’s National Golf Training Centre. ‘Nuff said. But if you insist on more: why not rent a mountain bike and kick up some dust at The Hub – home of the Canadian National Mountain Bike Team, the Bear Mountain Bike Park (BMBP) and the Southern Vancouver Island Nature Trails Society (NTS).

Crown Isle Golf

Golf at Crown Isle

Scorecards and skis

Play tourist: Spring skiing at Mount Washington on Vancouver Island is one of those things people add to their bucket lists, with March apparently their best month of the year. But the very best part? It’s just a 40-minute drive from two of the Island’s most-loved golf destinations: Crown Isle and Storey Creek.

Play golf: With Crown Isle Golf Resort tucked under the shadows of the massive Comox Glacier, and your Storey Creek four ball often joined by soaring eagles, wandering wild deer and ambling black bears, this is golf in perfect commune with nature. What better season to take advantage of that? (Speaking of taking advantage: Crown Isle is currently offering a Stay & Ski deal, valid until the end of January.)

Yep, Vancouver Island really is the perfect place to cure golf fever. With the added bonus of plenty to do off the tee. It’s time to flip winter the birdie and hit the fairways on Vancouver Island. You know you want to.

Main image credit: Deanne Gillespie

5 Great Golf Gift Ideas13-12-15

Five Golf Themed Gift Ideas

Stop. Take the golf tees out your shopping cart. Now back away. We’ve got 5 great golf gift ideas for you instead. Because your golf-loving partner/parent/best friend does not need to find yet another bag of novelty tees/sleeve of golf balls/branded glove in his or her stocking this Christmas. Instead, show them how much thought you (ahem – we) put into their gift this year and stick one of these fabulous golf gifts from the Vancouver Island Golf Trail under the tree. Just call us Santa’s favourite little helper!

Gift 1: For the Fanatic

Nothing says “I love you, Merry Christmas” like this, the ultimate golf gift: A Vancouver Island Golf Trail Card. This magical card allows the bearer to play one round each at 12 incredible Vancouver Island golf courses. For just $329 you can inspire never-ending devotion and gratitude – and year-long golf happiness. Pure genius.

Gift 2: For the Envy-Gifter

You know how sometimes you buy the best gift ever, then begrudge giving it away – it’s just so good you want to keep it yourself? We call that envy-gifting. No need to turn as green as your Christmas tree this year though: Arbutus Ridge has put together a fantastic 12 Days of Christmas Special Offer gift list – from a $130 five-game pack, to four one-hour lessons for the price of three, to customised golf balls. (Okay, in this instance we’ll allow the golf balls – who doesn’t love a customised golf ball, eh!) All gifts you wish you could just grab back, yes? Luckily for you, Arbutus Ridge is going to save your Christmas spirit from turning Scrooge-like: nearly every one of their special offers has a little something extra for you to keep. (Special Offers end on December 16 – so best you put your power cart into top gear.)

Gift 3: For the Newbie

You know what’s a great gift? A lifetime of good golf. Why not give the newbie golfer in your life the gift of lessons to set them up to play their best possible golf from the get-go. Fairwinds Golf Club is offering great Christmas specials on Lesson Packages (amongst some other great golf gift ideas, by the way). Bonus: their specials run until December 24 so if you’re a last-minute kind of shopper (no pointing fingers!), you’re in luck.

Gift 4: For the Disillusioned Golfer

Get your once-golf-loving-but-currently-disillusioned golfer back into the swing of things with a round of something guaranteed to put the pep back into their round: 18 holes of Foot Golf (soccer golf) at Crown Isle Golf Resort. Think of it as the super-sized version of golf – with half the frustration!

Gift 5: For the All-Rounder

For some golfers it’s all about the golf. They go from car, to course and straight back to the car. For others, it’s the whole experience that has them golfing-mad: some power-swinging at the driving range, a round of golf, a little bit of celebratory (or therapeutic) shopping at the pro-shop, and a post-round drink or dinner at the 19th. Highland Pacific has the perfect gift for this all-rounder: Gift Cards at Highland Pacific can be used anywhere on the facility for any purpose. It really is the gift that keeps on giving!

Still at a loss? Don’t succumb to the novelty golf/Christmas sweater! We’ve got one last idea for you and a it’s a winner: just give us a call on 1.888.465.3239 and customize a Vancouver Island golf package for your golf-fanatic loved one. We’ve got some hot deals on great packages guaranteed to put you on just about anybody’s ‘Nice’ list – for at least the next two Christmases!

Bear Mountain Resort Named As Golf Canada’s Official Training Centre05-11-15


Exciting announcement brings Canada’s National Golf Team to a new official home on Vancouver Island.

On November 5, 2015, Golf Canada and Bear Mountain Resort announced a four-year partnership in which Bear Mountain will become the official Canadian training centre for Team Canada’s National Squads.

Bear Mountain Resort, owned by Ecoasis Developments LLP, will provide athletes and coaches with year-round access to all onsite golf and resort facilities including the fitness facility and soon to be constructed premium golf training amenities. Located just outside Victoria, B.C., the west-coast resort is ideally positioned to provide optimal weather and training conditions for athletes from Team Canada’s Amateur, Development and Young Pro Squads.

In addition to the world-class facilities, Team Canada will have access to the award-winning 36-hole Nicklaus Design golf course, located on 836 acres of rolling hills with spectacular mountain vistas and views of British Columbia’s seaside capital city.

“We are very excited to begin this partnership with Bear Mountain and look forward to having our Team Canada players training at one of the best facilities in Canada,” said Golf Canada CEO Scott Simmons. “The facility is well-equipped to provide year-round support for our athletes, coaches and high performance training initiatives.”

While serving as the Canadian training centre for Golf Canada’s National Team program, Bear Mountain will also host two of Golf Canada’s championship events over the four-year period, while also serving as a potential host venue for a Golf Canada Foundation national fundraiser.

“We are very proud that our facilities and community have been recognized by Golf Canada and we are pleased to move forward as their partner and their first Canadian training facility,” said Dan Matthews, President and CEO of Ecoasis Developments LLP. “Supporting athlete development is one of our foundational aspirations at Bear Mountain. Our goal since day one has been to elevate the overall golf experience at Bear Mountain Resort and offer a quality of play that is among the best golf opportunities in the country. Golf Canada recognizes this commitment and we welcome them and their young performance athletes and coaches to train with us at Bear Mountain.”

The Canadian training centre will serve as a home for Team Canada’s training camps—primarily for Development Squad athletes during the shoulder season between October and March – including an upcoming training camp scheduled for February. Team Canada athletes will be hosted onsite at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort and Spa during training camps.

Play Golf At Canada’s National Golf Training Centre

Bear Mountain Resorts‘ two Nicklaus Design golf courses, The Mountain Course and The Valley Course, are active partners in Golf Vancouver Island – a recognized leader in offering golf packages to 11 Vancouver Island golf courses to one of Canada’s top golf destinations – the Vancouver Island Golf Trail.

Fall Oceanside Golf Destinations on Vancouver Island10-09-15


FairwindsPlaying golf oceanside may come with its share of non-recognized hazards: ocean breezes and cool mists. But this pales into complete insignificance when you consider the pros of golf courses with ocean views (or near enough): those views obviously, seafood bonanzas, plenty of salty-aired adventure and all-season golf. That’s right: those capricious elements which can soak you to the bone and send you driving into the breakers, also mean most of the courses on the island are playable year-round. No snowy-season closures and months of no-play (barring a freak snow storm of course). And as we all know, all work and no-play makes Jack a very dull boy… and a very rusty golfer!

So, as Fall approaches, with winter nipping at its heels and courses across the country getting ready for their cold-weather closures, pack up your clubs and head for Vancouver Island and the Vancouver Island Golf Trail – where the golf is never ending – and where these oceanside golfing destinations are ready and waiting for you.

Beach Bums

While everyone normally associates beaches with summer, a brisk beach walk on a crisp morning invigorates the soul and, we swear, improves the swing for the tee-off that follows. There’s no better place to prove our theory than Parksville and Qualicum Beach, home to miles of both pristine sands and gorgeous green fairways.
Tigh Na Mara Rathtrevor Beach

Where to stay… Check in at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort & Conference Centre. Located on Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville, with sweeping panoramic views of the Strait of Georgia and coastal mountains, this all-season haven promises Canada’s mildest year-round climate as well as the country’s warmest ocean swimming waters!

Where to play… Take an early morning walk on the famous Parksville Beach, right outside your Tigh-Na-Mara room. Then head out to tee off at Fairwinds Golf Club. Just 10 minutes from Parksville, this spectacular Les Furber designed course showcases natural water, dense forest, ocean views, and dramatic elevation changes. Voted the “#1 Golf Course on Vancouver Island” in the 2013 BC’s Best – People’s Choice Awards by BCLiving.ca, Fairwinds offers an oceanside golfing experience second to none. Sitting on the Nanoose peninsula, separating the Salish Sea to the south and the Strait of Georgia to the north and east, you will be hitting closer to the splendour of the ocean than any other golf community on Vancouver Island. Hopefully not too close though! Take a break for lunch at the Benz Lounge, Patio & Bistro overlooking the ninth green, then hit up Pheasant Glen Golf Resort for an afternoon round. Undisturbed by homes and highways, this secluded course in Qualicum delivers a round of golf guaranteed to challenge, but in a setting guaranteed to soothe.

Apres golf… After all that beach walking and golfing, you’re going to want to take advantage of the soothing treatments at the Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara, named the #1 Spa in British Columbia by Spas of America. It’s the perfect place to ease aching muscles. Make a weekend of it, and stay for the 2015 Party on the Drive event, Vancouver Island’s biggest street party.

The Great North

All the greatest explorers always end up heading North at some point in their travels. They might just be onto something there, especially when you look at the adventures – golfing and otherwise – to be had on the North Island.

Where to stay… Treat yourself to a retreat from real life at Painter’s Lodge in Campbell River, situated on the shores of the Discovery Passage. It’s called Discovery Passage for a reason: from Painter’s Lodge you can experience world-renowned salmon fishing, a guided fishing trip, a tour of the wildlife, a whale-watching expedition, canoeing, and adrenaline-inducing golf. Just pick your adventure.

Where to play… Head out for a spot of adventure golfing at Storey Creek Golf Club in Campbell River, where eagles soar, wild deer frolic, and even the occasional black bear may make a guest appearance as part of your four-ball… (Like we said, adventure golfing!) This Les Furber designed course has been carved out of old and second-growth forest, giving you a championship golf course that has to be played to be believed. (Read: expect to use every club in your bag.) For a real golfing adventure, head to Quadra Island Golf Course, located a scenic 10 minute ferry ride from Campbell River on Quadra Island. A beautiful 9 hole golf course, it is perfect for those who like to combine a little fishing with their oceanside golf getaway. For a tremendous Fins and Skins experience, stay at April Point Resort & Spa on the island, tee off in the morning at Quadra Island Golf Course, then cast off in the afternoon for a spot of their world-famous salmon fishing. For a really good deal, check out this April Point Golf & Fishing Get-Away-From-It-All deal.

(Note: Quadra Island, April Point and Painter’s Lodge are seasonal – book now before winter closures kick in. April Point, September 20; Quadra Island/Painter’s Lodge, October 12).

Apres golf… All that adventure can really make a golfer hungry! Both Painter’s Lodge and April Point offer amazing culinary adventures post-play, with restaurants that give ‘oceanside’ whole new meaning. You can even ask the chef to grill the salmon you caught yourself on your earlier outing – talk about ‘catch of the day’, eh!

Wine And (ocean)Water

Head for the Cowichan Valley where, if the golf gets the better of you, there’s at least plenty of wine to make up for it! A scenic 45 minute drive north of Victoria or a 30-minute drive south from Nanaimo, the Cowichan Valley boasts numerous wineries, a couple of world-class golf courses, a seaside village straight out of the good ol’ days when community meant everything, and, seeing as how we’re talking oceanside bonuses, fresh crab straight from the dock to your plate.

Where to stay… It doesn’t get more oceanside than the Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay. A boutique style hotel with 56 oceanview suites, if you want to be any closer to the sea you’ll have to rent a houseboat. With its Oceanview Restaurant, a waterfront indoor heated pool, whirlpool, saunas, and amazing Oceanside patio you can be forgiven if you choose to forego golf.

Where to play… If you can drag yourself out, head to Cowichan Golf & Country Club, just outside of Duncan, where you may be distracted from your game by the views overlooking mountains and the waters of Cowichan Bay. Try stay focused for the eleventh hole at least though, probably the toughest par four on the entire Island. Off the drive, you will have to clear a ravine, stay away from the out-of-bounds zone that runs along the left side of the fairway, and stay away from the big trees that dot the right edge of the hole. The approach is even more complicated, with the elevated green protected by a wide gully and water on the front and left sides. Oceanside or not, this is one hole you’ll want to forget the crab meal that awaits you and think about nothing but golf. Also in the heart of the Cowichan wine region, you’ll find Arbutus Ridge Golf Club. Directly surrounded by nine wineries, this course offers some of the most stunning views on Vancouver Island with the front nine weaving alongside the seaside community of Cobble Hill and the back nine climbing a ridge to overlook the Satellite Channel.

Apres golf… Seeing as how you’re in the area you may as well take advantage of all the valley has to offer. The second largest wine region in BC, the Cowichan Valley is home to nearly 20 wineries. Take a self-guided tour or join a guided group. (If you’re feeling really adventurous you can even do a bike tour.) Whatever you do though, make sure you end up at one of the local waterfront restaurants where you can take advantage of everything Vancouver Island’s oceanside golf destinations have to offer: fresh local seafood paired with fantastic local wines. (Golf totally optional.)

Head Downtown

It’s hard to argue with Conde Nast Traveler Magazine when they consistently name Victoria as one of the top destinations in the Americas. It has everything. A thriving microbrewery scene, wineries a stone’s throw away, great shopping, excellent entertainment and, of course, golf aplenty. All oceanside.
Delta Ocean Point Victoria Hotel

Where to stay… What a dilemma: so many fantastic oceanside hotels to stay at, only one of you. Staying in a hotel on Victoria’s iconic Inner Harbour has to take the cake as one of the best oceanside experiences you’ll ever have. The Hotel Grand Pacific is, well, just grand. And a really great option just two blocks from Victoria’s downtown restaurant and shopping district, and five blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf. Also located on Victoria’s Inner Harbour is the newly renovated Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa, where you will be hard pressed to be lured away from the luxury, especially the waterfront LURE Restaurant & Bar. Or check in harbourside at the Inn at Laurel Point for a park-like setting and suites with private decks. You’ll find it hard to believe you’re anywhere near the hustle and bustle of inner city staying here, yet are just steps away from all downtown Victoria has to offer.

Where to play… You don’t have to venture far from town to get your golf on. No more than 20 minutes out of Victoria, you’ll find Highland Pacific Golf Course, with its panoramic views of the city, the Olympic Mountains, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Highland Pacific prepares you for your best game ever offering an award-winning practice facility: a two-tiered tee line of 44 covered and heated stalls, CPGA golf instruction, long and short game natural turf practice areas, lights for evening practice, and real terrain targets, including a water hazard. There’s no excuse for a bad round here, oceanside distractions or no!  For those of you planning more than one round during your visit, Olympic View Golf Club and the two Nicklaus designed courses of Bear Mountain (The Mountain and The Valley) await only minutes down the road.

Apres golf… Did you know that beer in Victoria has its roots in the early 1840s? There are currently six breweries, and five brewpubs in the immediate vicinity of this relatively small city, making Victoria undeniably BC’s craft beer capital. And what better to do after a spot of oceanside golfing than a pint (or two) of oceanside brew-appreciation? Take yourself on a self-guided tour of Victoria’s Ale Trail or an on-the-water brew tour on the “Pickle Pub Crawl“, before heading back to your hotel or restaurant of choice for a meal featuring the best that the local waters have to offer. From Sea to Table, there is no better place to be than Victoria for the Catch of the Day.

Which is your favourite Vancouver Island golf course to play in the cooler months? We’d love to hear from you!


Best Victoria Golf Courses for Buddies14-08-15

Best Victoria Golf Courses for Buddies

Sick of your golfing buddies heckling you on every round that you didn’t pick the best golf courses? Let us help plan your next golf trip by choosing the best Victoria golf courses for buddies’ outings. Courses that will keep the harshest hecklers both too dazzled by their surroundings and challenged by their own game to worry about yours. Add in their proximity to all sorts of entertainment, and we can guarantee a good time for all, almost completely heckle-free. (Of course, there’s always one clown who won’t be silenced, and for that, we’re afraid, we got nothing.)

Highland Pacific Golf Course: best warm-up

Billed as “Victoria’s friendliest golf course,” Highland Pacific is a quick 15-minute drive from downtown, making it perfect for day one after a night on the town. Or, make your round the night-time attraction: new this season are Highland Pacific’s Golf Social Nights. Everything Wine Ladies’ Night happens every Monday night from 5:30pm until 21 September, and Campus Auto Group Men’s Night happens every Wednesday night from 5:30pm until 23 September. Both feature nine holes of play on this championship course, with competitions for longest drive and closest to the pin, followed by dinner and a massive prize table.

Highland Pacific Golf Course in Victoria BC

Highland Pacific patio

Either way, Highland Pacific is also arguably the best possible course to warm up for your golfing trip. Their driving range alone is worth the entire trip: there’s nothing quite like driving out over a lake to get the golf senses singing. Highland Pacific also has six different sets of tee markers, making it a great place to play with friends of all skill levels.

An added bonus is its proximity to downtown Victoria with its pulsing entertainment scene and nightlife. Home to year-round live theatre, opera, dance, concerts, festivals and films, Victoria is also jam-packed with a variety of Old English-style pubs, micro brew pubs, restaurants, bars and clubs. And, did you know that Victoria is the scene of a thriving craft cocktail scene with many talented mixologists making their living here? In fact, the classic cocktail lounge at the Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites has been awarded “Top 10 – World’s Best Hotel Bar” by Tales of the Cocktail. Suffice to say, there is never a dull night in Victoria!

Talking the walk… “Fun course! The wife and I enjoyed this course. The views were outstanding. The course had a ton of character to it. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Beer available was local craft beer! Would play here again!” (TripAdvisor)

Olympic View Golf Club: best history (and burgers)

Olympic View golf course in Victoria BC

Olympic View waterfall

An incredible course celebrating 25 years this year, Olympic View can also boast of being the host with the most: it is the first course Tiger Woods played in BC, and the only course on Vancouver Island. Challenge your buddies to do better than Tiger on Hole 16. A par 3 that measures only 110 yards, don’t be lulled into false sense of security… with sand traps at the front and back, and a large gully to the right of the green, this hole shows no mercy. Just ask Tiger: the legend himself bogeyed it two days in a row, and that was well before he lost his game!

If Hole 16 gets the best of you and your buddies, let the spectacular views soothe your soul as you hit towards a beautiful waterfall at the end of Hole 17, then head over to Forester’s Bistro & Bar at the clubhouse for what is considered by many to be the most legendary burger on the Island.

Talking the walk… “Breathtaking! I will always return to this place. Breathtaking golf course, breathtaking view, very friendly people and the food was just fantastic. Great experience.” (Tripadvisor)


Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa: best bragging rights

Bear Mountain Golf Courses in Victoria BC

Bear Mountain challenges

Are you and your buds brave enough to battle the Bear? As one golfer put it, “She’s a beast!” Regardless of your degrees of courage, handicap, or tolerance levels for good natured ribbing about losing balls, you just have to play the place where the Golden Bear hangs his name. The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa, Vancouver Island’s only 36-hole course, is that golf course… the one where you don’t remove the tag from your bag for months, no years, after playing it. Co-Designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son Steve, you can play two incredible courses, offering challenging golf, unrivalled scenery, and a luxury stay at the end of play.

To really give yourself some bragging rights with your buddies, plan a stay and play for the weekend. That way your group can enjoy Bear Mountain’s Friday Night Flights: themed wine (and sometimes vodka) tastings to rejuvenate the weariest of Bear-warriors. Take all the credit and run with it…

Talking the walk… “Beautiful! With some of the nicest views I have ever seen overlooking all of Victoria and the surrounding areas. The golf course is always in peak shape and is a very unique design by Jack Nicklaus himself.” (TripAdvisor)

Arbutus Ridge Golf Course: best value

Arbutus Ridge Golf Course near Victoria BC

Arbutus Ridge clubhouse

Wrap up your trip with a chilled round in the morning followed by a wine tour in the afternoon, by taking advantage of the Arbutus Ridge Golf and Wine package. Great golfing, great wine, great value.

Arbutus Ridge Golf Course is located slap bang in the middle of nine of Vancouver Island’s best wineries. It’s not all about the wine though: this course boasts three of the most demanding finishing golf holes on Vancouver Island, punctuated by the knee-rattling 214-yard par 3 island green on the 17th hole. (Hmmm, come to think of it, perhaps the wine helps…) Whatever your reason for playing here, you won’t regret it, and, if you take advantage of the golf school, clinic, or private lesson at the GBC Golf Academy, you’ll even come away a much better golfer. (Another area the wine comes in handy – to toast to your improvement!)

Talking the walk… “Great golf, super pros, scenery and food. The golf course is challenging, interesting and has lots of friendly members. Views are superlative, not only on the course but in the clubhouse as well. Be prepared to lose a few balls both in the rough and the water. Food in the clubhouse is of good quality with sufficient choices for my vegetarian appetite as well as for my carnivore hubby.” (TripAdvisor)

Best bonus round

Ale Trail in Victoria BC

Victoria microwbrews

While golf is paramount to a buddies’ golfing trip (duh), there is so much to do in and around Victoria that you deserve any heckling that comes your way if you don’t take advantage of it.

Why not pair your golf with the Victoria Ale Trail experience, a self-guided tour of Victoria’s many microbreweries.

Or, for the ultimate bragging rights with your buddies, pair your golf score with your weigh in and make it a fins and skins experience – salmon fishing in the morning and golf in the afternoon… an experience completely unique to Victoria and Vancouver Island.

Fishing in Victoria BC

Vancouver Island fins and skins

Finally, just because you can, why not add one more day to your play: stay waterfront and add a morning round at the traditional Cowichan Golf & Country Club before heading back to the real world.

Talking the walk… “I’ve spent most of my life golfing – the rest, I’ve just wasted.” Anonymous

PS. Need help pulling your buddies golfing trip together completely hassle free? Check out Golf Vancouver Island’s Victoria Buddies Weekend – yep, they’ve done it all for you, and all at a great price. You’re welcome.

Have Your Say: Who Will Win The 2015 US Open17-06-15

Who will win at Chambers Bay

The North American golf event of the year is upon us and for 2015, it is in our neighbourhood. The 2015 US Open is being held at Chambers Bay, only a short hop away from Vancouver Island, and the eyes of the golfing world are on the Pacific Northwest.

The yet-to-be-determined challenges of Chambers Bay are being rattled around by players and fans alike. We thought it time to conduct a not-so-thorough survey of who you think will respond best to the unique layout at Chambers Bay.

So go ahead, give it a shot. Maybe you’ll pick the 2015 US Open winner.

Who is going to win the US Open?

Rory McIlroy

Jordan Spieth

Phil Mickelson

Dustin Johnson

Please Specify:

Poll Maker

Meet Vancouver Island’s Golf Vacation Experts11-06-15

Golf Travel Experts of Vancouver Island

Who Plans Your Golf Vacation?

A huge component about planning any golf trip is making sure you are going to play some great golf courses, afterall – that’s the main reason for going on a golf vacation in the first place. How do you accomplish this? Ask your friends? Research online for reviews and pictures and golf planning guides?

Once you’ve spent enough time doing your own research you may book all the components of your trip individually hoping you planned enough time for travel and have picked the right places to stay, play and enjoy and that those reviews you read considered all your needs and wants as well. That seems like a lot of work and we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that hard.

Use Local Golf Vacation Expertise

We’d like you to meet Vancouver Island’s local golf vacation experts. Patrick and Herman answer all the phone calls and emails that come to Golf Vancouver Island. They have been playing golf and booking golf vacations to Vancouver Island for decades. They are passionate golfers, they know Vancouver Island golf courses inside and out, and they have the experience in booking golf trips for buddies, couples and big corporate clients. What we’re saying is, these guys know their stuff.

When you call or email Golf Vancouver Island, these are the people on the other side. Bursting with knowledge on the top golf courses to play, best places to stay and the most unique experiences for a golfer on Vancouver Island.

With that in mind, we’ve picked their ever expanding brains, brimming full of golf trip insights, to give you a brief Q&A with our very own local golf trip planning gurus!

Q & A With Golf Vancouver Island’s Trip Planning Professionals

How Long Have You Been Golfing For?

Patrick: Since I was ten. That’s 38 years now. Wow how time flies!

Herman: 27 years. 1988 to be exact.


Why did you get into golf travel planning?

Golf Vancouver Island's Reservation Director Patrick

Patrick willing his golf ball to go in the hole at Olympic View Golf Club

P: It combines two of my biggest loves: Golf and travel. I was bitten by the travel bug on a trip to the old Soviet Union when I was in Grade 8. It was very much the “communist empire”. There were pictures of Brezhnev everywhere and armed soldiers in front of monuments. Yet in spite of that, when you got a chance to meet the locals, it was apparent that as different as societies look on the outside, we are all so much more similar to each other than we are different. Ever since then I have been hooked on travel.

The golf bug bit me the same way it bites everyone else. I hit that one pure shot that felt simultaneously effortless and powerful. In my case it was a beautiful right to left soft cutting drive (with an old wooden Spalding driver) over a hill to a blind landing area. I was left with a wedge to the green and ended up birding the hole. I was playing with my school buddy and my dad. From that moment on I was hooked! During a round of golf with some of my co-workers at the time, it occurred to me that there had to be a way to combine my two loves. The golf travel industry was the obvious choice. I’ve been doing it for seventeen years now and still love talking to clients about their plans. I get to wake up every morning and talk golf! What could be better?!

H: Living in Cape Town and being between jobs I took up a job to drive International Tourists from their accommodations to different courses. I always had my golf bag with me and got to play a lot of golf. It was the best job I ever had (except for this one of course!). When I moved to Canada I was lucky enough to work close to the Golf Vancouver Island Offices. One day I went in to introduce myself. The rest is pretty much history.


What is your most memorable golf hole on Vancouver Island?

Reservation Specialist Herman

Herman can crush the ball, which makes for easy approach shots like this one at Olympic View.

P: For purely selfish reasons, it would be the 12th hole at Arbutus Ridge. It’s a fun downhill slight-dog leg right with a wide fairway. It is a hole that you can let the driver fly on. It’s also the hole I got my only double-eagle on. Until I get a hole-in-one that will remain my most memorable golf hole!

H: #13 at Bear Mountain – Mountain Course. It is a Par 5 and a very tough uphill hole. The reward when you get to the top is something I have never seen in my whole life. You get to the green and on the other side is straight drop with the one of the best views in the world overlooking Victoria, the Strait of Juan De Fuca, Mount Baker and the Olympic Mountain Range in the United States.

Oh, and I eagled the hole on my third try… that kinda makes it special too


What is something people may not know about the golf courses on Vancouver Island?

P: The value. Half of the courses on the Vancouver Island Golf Trail would be 30 – 40% more if they were located off the island. I have been lucky enough to golf most of the top courses in Western Canada and a number of famous courses around the world. The courses that we have on the island make for a fantastic vacation at a price that won’t break the bank. It truly is some of the best bang for the buck in Canada.

H: You can play them all year around. Vancouver Island has the most moderate climate in Canada and a lot of Canadian move here because they can golf every day of the year including Christmas Day!


Name one thing, besides golf, that people should try while on Vancouver Island?

P: Find a way to get out on the water. Go fishing. Go Whale watching. Go on a boat cruise. Whatever it takes. The Gulf Islands and the waterways from Victoria to the tip of the island are some of the most incredibly beautiful waterways in the world. I have lived on the island for most of my life and every time I can get out on the water it is like being out there for the first time. Sunshine, sea breezes, seals, whales, porpoises…there is just no substitute. You simply have to see the area from the water to understand; but once you do, you’ll be hooked!

H: Go salmon fishing. Some of the richest fishing grounds in the world surrounds Vancouver Island. When the salmon run starts you can be part of one of the largest migrations of any animal species on planet earth. Oh, and you can prepare your catch that same night for a surf and turf!

Seeing as both Patrick and Herman recommend you go fishing, we suggest you read about fishing and golf.


Call Us Anytime at 1-888-465-3239

If you’re planning a golf trip to Vancouver Island, we recommend dropping one of these two gentleman a line. Super helpful, passionate about the game, and extremely knowledgeable about golf courses on the Island, Patrick and Herman will always find time to talk golf with you. It’s what they love and they enjoy sharing the great golf experiences with new and returning visitors year after year.

Golf Vancouver Island Reservations Team Testing at Olympic View

Golf Vancouver Island Reservations Team early season testing at Olympic View

Come Play on Island Time by Golf Today Northwest05-05-15

Come Play on Island Time - Golf Today Northwest

Come Play on Island Time By Golf Today Northwest

That’s the recommendation from Golf Today Northwest in the May 2015 Issue. Author Gayle Moss explores the Vancouver Island Golf Trail and the 11 golf courses situated from Campbell River in the North to Victoria in the South.

Given the buying power of the strong US dollar, there has never been a better time to take a golf vacation to Vancouver Island, where as the author puts it “You could plan a 4-day golf trip for the price of 3”.

Read the full article on Golf Today Northwest then start planning your golf vacation by viewing these incredible golf package specials.