• Victoria’s Golf & Ale Trail – Birdies & Beers on Vancouver Island

    Beers and birdies.  

    Pints and pars.  

    Malt and mulligans.  

    If that sounds like your sort of dynamic duo, you are absolutely going to love Vancouver Island, with its trail of top-notch golf options and a superb assortment of breweries and tasting rooms. In fact, Victoria is known as the cradle of Canada’s craft beer revolution.  

    I’m not a scratch golfer or cicerone — that’s the sudsy equivalent of a sommelier — but I think I have pretty good taste. Let me recommend a few pairings for your visit …  

    Hole 14 on Mountain Course at Bear Mountain + Vancouver Island Brewing’s Broken Islands Hazy IPA

    The beer is delightfully cloudy, but you’ll be hoping the view is crystal-clear when you arrive at this postcard-worthy Par-3, originally a bonus ‘gambling hole’ and now thankfully part of the everyday rotation on the Mountain Course. On a blue-sky day, you can see for miles and miles — out to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountain range and all the way to downtown Victoria. Send a photo to your buddies back home and since you’ll also want to brag about a birdie, choose your club wisely. Short and long are both bad news. I’m a big fan of hazy IPAs, and this juicy staple from Vancouver Island Brewing — one of the original pint-producers in this market — became an instant favourite. In fact, I headed home with a six-pack of Broken Islands stuffed in my golf bag. True story.

    Hole 14 at Bear Mountain.

    Hole 7 on Highland Nine at Highland Pacific + Hoyne Brewing Company’s Dark Matter  

    Embrace the unknown. Dark Matter, arguably the headliner of Hoyne Brewing Company’s diverse portfolio, is indescribable. In fact, you won’t find any mention on the can or bottle of what type of beer you’re enjoying. What it is, and you can take this from me, is delicious. If you enjoy the darker stuff, consider this a must-sip on any visit to Vancouver Island. The seventh hole on the Highland Nine at Highland Pacific — a double dogleg — can also reward those who don’t mind a bit of mystery. As long as one of your playing partners can point out the ideal line, crank your drive on this Par-5 assignment through the gap in the trees on the left. And then take aim over the rocks on the right with your second shot. With a little luck, you’ll be lining up a putt for eagle.

    Highland Pacific Golf Course

    Hole 17 at Olympic View + Phillips Brewing & Malting Company’s Blue Buck  

    The folks at Phillips refer to Blue Buck as a “legendary beast,” and you’re not going to hear any argument from me. This amber-coloured ale, a smooth sipper with caramel undertones, helped to put Victoria’s craft beer scene on the map and remains a popular pour. So what makes No. 17 at Olympic View a perfect pairing? This course has some legendary ties, too — Tiger Woods was already a three-time U.S. junior champ when he competed here as a high-schooler. And it doesn’t get much more refreshing than the approach shot on this signature challenge at Olympic View, with a 60-foot waterfall backdropping the green. If you can stick your second shot and drain the birdie try, you might feel like a legendary beast in your own right. (For those with a sweet-tooth, Phillips’ Longboat Chocolate Porter should also be included on any tasting tray.)  

    Hole 7 on Valley Course at Bear Mountain + Ile Sauvage Brewing’s Papillon Saison  

    Ile Sauvage, which translates to “Wild Island” is a relative newcomer, but this creative crew has quickly carved out a reputation for its unique lineup of sours, saisons and experimental mixes with fresh flavours — apricots, melon, raspberry and much more. The Papillon Saison will be a hit with both your taste-buds and Instagram followers. Butterfly Pea Flower gives this beer a one-of-a-kind violet colour. While we don’t mind wandering off the beaten path to try a new brew, the key on the seventh hole on Bear Mountain’s Valley Course is to stay out of the wild. This skinny fairway is flanked on both sides by tall trees and exposed rock, putting a premium on accuracy off the tee. The approach shot is also a little nervy. Trust me, you don’t want to mess with the bunker left of the green.

    Hole 7 at Bear Mountain.

    Hole 17 at Arbutus Ridge + Lighthouse Brewing’s Shipwreck IPA  

    Shipwreck wouldn’t be a bad nickname for the 17that Arbutus Ridge, where many golfers have watched a career round — or at least a score worth toasting — disappear in a splash. This knee-knocking Par-3 stretches to 174 yards from the tips, and there’s water short, long and left of a peninsula-style green. With out-of-bounds to the right, there’s no good miss. If you can knock one on, however, and better yet sink the birdie putt, then you have earned a celebratory pint. Shipwreck is a staple tap at Lighthouse Brewing. This West Coast IPA won’t hammer you with hops, but it’s still packed with flavour and offers enough oomph to perhaps help you forget how many Titleists you left swimming in the water on your second-to-last hole of the day.

    Hole 17 at Arbutus Ridge.

    Hole 11 at Cowichan Golf Club + Vancouver Island Brewing’s Hermannator Ice Bock

    This beer has serious clout. Same goes for this golf hole. The Hermannator is iconic in craft circles — this seasonal special boasts an alcohol content of 9.5%, although it tastes way too smooth to be that strong. Hermann Hoerterer, the original brewmaster at Vancouver Island Brewing, initially poured these potent pints three-plus decades ago as a holiday treat for family and friends. The secret is now out, with the Hermannator winning some significant international awards. We can recommend a winter seasonal because this is one of the rare destinations in Canada where you can play year-round. Like the Hermannator, Hole 11 at Cowichan Golf Club can be a knockout. Considered one of the toughest Par-4s on the island, you must clobber your tee-ball to have a good look at the green. From there, you’re still sizing up a heroic carry over a pond. Gulp.   

    Cowichan Golf Club

    One final pairing that shouldn’t be understated. Golf & Beer are paired so often together, that Golf Vancouver Island partnered with Vancouver Island Brewing to create the Vancouver Island Golf Trail Ale. You can only find this tasty craft beer at select golf courses along the Vancouver Island Golf Trail.

    Vancouver Island Golf Ale

    Regardless of your choice, you’re bound to find a selection of golf courses and craft beers on Vancouver Island that will please all palates.


    Guest Post by Wes Gilbertson – Postmedia golf/travel feature writer and self-admitted golf nut.
    Twitter: @WesGilbertson

    This (Bear Mountain Resort – Mountain Course, on the Vancouver Island Golf Trail) is my new favourite golf course – I just love the layout. It’s really one of the prettiest golf courses I’ve played in my life, I’ll come back here on vacation, it’s that good.

    Scott McCarron, PGA TOUR Champion

    I always treat golf courses as how many poor holes there are. This (Bear Mountain Resort – Mountain Course, on the Vancouver Island Golf Trail) is a very good one. There’s not one poor hole on this golf course.

    Colin Montgomerie, PGA TOUR Champion

    Great job on the initial booking and subsequent changes requested. Easy check-in at the golf courses and the hotel made the trip hassle-free. Nice touch with the driving directions and discounts at recommended food and beverage establishments. Will definitely recommend your service to friends and business associates.

    Vancouver Guest, Corporate Golf Outing

    Terrific trip: well presented website, knowledgeable staff, and the golf and accommodation were second to none.

    Couples Golf Trip

    We will make this trip an annual April vacation. We will definitely book with Golf Vancouver Island again in 2017!

    Annual Couples Golf Trip

    Very much enjoyed our trip and staff were great to deal with - we'll be booking more trips through Golf Vancouver Island in the future.

    Buddies Trip Golf Package

    Wonderful trip, well planned and organized. Fantastic golf. Wish we stayed longer.

    Buddies Golf Trip

    I have used Golf Vancouver Island a number of times and have found them very helpful and professional. Everyone in our group had a great time, the courses and accommodation were first class.

    Repeat Customer, Buddies Golf Trip

    Staff did an amazing job! So easy to work with. I am already looking to book another trip next year, making this an annual event.

    Annual Buddies Golf Trip

    Personalized, quick response, good customer service and reasonable price. Overall experience was great.

    Couples Golf Trip