Victoria Golf Club – Pebble Beach North

Victoria Golf Club – Pebble Beach North


The Point.  From the Gold tees on 10 there is the 8th green and the 9th tees.

I am not the first to pen that Victoria Golf Club is reminiscent of Pebble Beach.  But perhaps it should be the other way around.  Victoria Golf Club opened in 1893, making it one of the oldest golf clubs in the country; the oldest in British Columbia.  This venerable course set on under 100 acres of property in Oak Bay, one of the southernmost pieces of property on Vancouver Island.  This course was home to Canadian Golf Hall of Fame architect A.V. Macan who worked and played here, making significant architectural contributions to the course to which are still attributed today.  I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play this course on a cool (but dry) February morning this winter.  The experience was one I will cherish; this historic course is most worthy of its high rankings within Canada.


This view from the 5th tee over the strait and looking at the Olympic mountains is a favourite of mine.

First, and most notably is the property.  Playing only over 6150 yards from the Gold tees, the course is modest and intelligent in its use of land and plays well to the asset of its oceanside location.  And at the pinnacle of this fabulous location is ‘The Point’, part of the course set off Beach Drive alongside the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Here, on a clear day you will get majestic views of the Olympic mountains, notably Mount Baker, in Washington state.  The Point hosts holes 7 to 10 before crossing back over to the remaining 8 holes.  Yet there are spectacular views throughout the course, not just on The Point.

Notable Canadian architect Jeff Mingay has been retained to do some restoration work with a focus on the bunkers.  He’s also supporting some green restoration and tree removal.  His objective, as stated in a SCOREGolf interview, is just “polishing the gem”.  Bringing back the classic, natural look of the course to what Mingay sees as its peak in the early 1950’s under Macan is his goal and from my perspective and that of members I had the pleasure of playing with, he’s doing spectacular work.


While not a long hole, the par 4 5th demands your attention off the tee.  That is if you can keep your focus…what a view.

The course is no pushover, despite the length.  Wind and large green complexes (which run quick in the summer) are the courses greatest defenses. I three-putted five times and felt fortunate at that so I can attest to the challenges these would provide in any true competitive play.  The opening par 5 provides a fantastic view to the mountains in the distance but the tee shot will command your attention with trees lining right and bunkers left.  But it was the third hole, called the Road Hole, which will truly grab your attention.  Beach Drive runs left and the hole allows for a bail out right with the adjoined fourth fairway.  A narrowing and uphill approach makes club selection challenging and a multi-tiered green makes par a fabulous score.  Holes 7-10 is where Victoria Golf Club shows off its real natural beauty.  The oceanside holes go 4-3-3-4 on the card.  The par 3’s are not long but may be the most challenging of the four.  Land’s End, the 8th, is only 116 yards from the Gold Tees but factor in wind and a slight plateau to the green and club selection is a challenge on a good day.  Add the natural and rugged bunkering and misses make scrambling for par a scramble for certain.  It was breathtaking and would present a unique challenge every single day.


Being short-sided on 11 allowed me this fabulous view of the Strait…and a less than fabulous chance at par.

The closing nine is no slouch, with precision being the key.  Back to back par 3’s – the 13th and 14th – demand players to hit the green as there’s no easy miss to assure an up and down par.  A good drive on 17, a par 5, will reward players with a birdie chance.  And good thing, since the 18th is a sharp uphill, aptly named Plateau, where par is a good score.


The 7th hole.  This photo was taken from an older tee box when the hole was a long par 3.  A great view of the 8th behind it too.

The clubhouse, built in 1928, is steeped in history and provides players a chance to enjoy excellent food and a cold beverage and many places to comfortably look over the scorecard and count shots they would love to have back!

The course enjoys an active membership who have a real appreciation and pride for this great course.  I was fortunate to play within a weekly group of 20 members who tee it up each Monday morning.  The consensus was that Victoria Golf Club is a community of golfers who respect their course, the game and appreciate that they have something truly special – quirky and glorious as one member called it.  And as a guest, I can vouch for that.


Archie Louis, one of my playing partners and VGC member staring down another fantastic tee shot on 9.  Arch put on a stripe show all day.

Aura – 9.5 out of 10 – a national top 20 course and western Canada’s oldest, I mean what is not to be excited about?!  It was a true privilege to tee it up at Victoria GC.

Course Condition – 8.5 out of 10 – It was the closest thing to an off season that Victoria experiences; bunker renovations are ongoing and the greens were not as fast as they are in peak season (though for me that was a blessing).  But make no mistake, this course is fabulous and well maintained.  Staff, like its members, take pride in this course.


This group did not hold up the pace of play.  What a sight to greet me upon my arrival!

Overall Experience – 9 out of 10 – This is a very special course.  The history, which Victoria draws exceptionally well from on its website; the unique and sensational piece of property and the intelligent design using a fraction of what most modern courses use in terms of land; and masterful design features all add up to Victoria Golf Club being within a small list of elite courses in Canada.

Highlight – I arrived early and asked at the pro shop which holes I should have my camera ready for and the young man politely smiled and said it would be apparent once our group crossed the road where good places would be for photos.  He clearly undersold here.  This course is a golf photographers dream.  And while the lighting wasn’t necessarily the best, the location and the natural features on the point more than made up for some cloud cover.


Victoria Golf Club promotes its rich history so well given it’s western Canada’s oldest course.

My Best Shot – I hit it well off the tee for most of the day but on 18 an overly aggressive drive skirted by a tree and left me a short iron in.  The approach was all over the pin but came up 12 feet short.  I eyed up the birdie opportunity (I was playing skins so the putt mattered).  The putt was terrific, well-paced, but broke hard left at the end and just missed the left edge.  A stress free par and fantastic memories from a great round of golf at Victoria.


An incredible golf experience at Victoria Golf Club.  Thanks to all staff and members who made me feel so welcome.


My Golfing Goals for 2018

My handicap factor is 10.6  I came off a year with some minor health issues and for most of the season I struggled feeling comfortable – with my game and my new golf schedule.

I am inspired by Golf Is Mental who set what I saw to be some very realistic goals and it gave me pause for reflection on my own goals for 2018.


1. Focus on process – I worked hard on putting in 2017 and I was pleased with the results. So much so that one of my playing partners said to me, “you’re one of the best putters I have ever met”.  I joked he doesn’t get out much, but a focus on rolling the ball well and not worrying about it going in helped it go in more.  I am falling in love with my wedges and putter and want to adopt a fearless and enjoyment-based approach off the tee.   Realigning my thinking to process versus product will help me have more fun and when rooted in strong fundamentals, hopefully help the bottom line too.


  1. Hakuna Mutata – Sorry, when my daughter was young we watched the Lion King movie daily. The idea of ‘no worries’ is a positive one for me, especially for someone who’s prone to take myself too seriously and doesn’t relax as well as I’d like.  The game is meant to be fun.  Success or failure will not have an impact on my tour earnings or world golf ranking.  Even with winter practice I am trying to smile more.


  1. Focus inside of 100 – Golf Is Mental set a realistic schedule of once a week for practice and I will adopt this too, but I want half my time to be spent on the short game part of the range working on wedge distances and different shots.


  1. Embrace competitive play – I loved my club championship experience last season and look to play it again this year. I would love to explore other options for competitive play like our club’s Match Play bracket too, just to get more experience under pressure.  It makes the game fun for me (which sounds counter-intuitive but is true).

“Golf is meant to be fun” – Jack Nicklaus


This time of year I am usually chomping at the bit and looking at golf with sky high (and unrealistic expectations) for myself.  This year, it’s going to be simplified.  Smile more.  Try hard.  Prepare with purpose.  It’s only a game and goodness knows it’s been a long enough winter so let’s get at it!  I’d love to hear your goals for 2018.  Keep it in the short grass!

Time to Remove Mashed Potatoes from Golf

I’m a huge proponent of the Waste Management Phoenix Open and it’s rowdy 16th hole. Love it, and until recently thought it was great for the game; the Yang to Augusta National’s Ying. But it seems, as is the case in many aspects of life, we can’t have nice things. The facts are, the collective ‘we’ don’t seem to be able to handle the responsibility of golf gallery etiquette and decorum.

The Mashed Potato movement is not new by any means. And maybe I am an old cynic now, but it seems to be getting worse. And to put a finer point on it, it seems daily there are ‘fans’ (code for people who are half-drunk attending a golf tournament) who want to be on TV by attempting to yell something clever at the moment of impact.

My first thought…why aren’t they simply removed from the premises at the first hint of inappropriate behavior? Failure to do so really sanctions the behavior and allows people the freedom and flexibility to push that line until they’re 8 beers deep and they can’t walk that line anymore and act like an ass. Facts are, we know for certainty that Augusta National or The Open Championship would not condone behavior like that. But pick any week on the PGA Tour and, well, as they say it only takes one.

The fact that events like the first tee at the Ryder Cup (likely all 18 holes) and the annual tour stop in Phoenix are loud and boisterous is fine. These are events which, like Augusta really, are unique unto themselves. But on a routine tour stop can we not have some clear level of appropriate behavior adhered to? Here are some ideas to eliminate inappropriate behavior from golf:

The PGA Tour needs to take a lead on a code of conduct policy which needs to be marketed, promoted and ingrained for every patron of every event. And central to these are the following:

· A strict limit on alcohol consumption. Find a way. It’s not rocket science. Address all issues of excessive intoxication quickly and professionally.

· Immediate removal from any patron who yells at any point in the swing. This does not preclude people from celebrating great shots whatsoever.

· Ban those who can’t abide by the rules from any future tour event.

I need to emphasize that these ideas would still allow Phoenix to be Phoenix and Augusta to be Augusta. What it does is not allow the people who want to be famous from impeding players’ shots and my viewing experience at home.

Because, in my opinion, if we do nothing about this, we’re essentially sanctioning this kind of behavior and I don’t think that is good for the game and it is horrible for professional golf, with potential implications that are enormous.  To be honest, I am at the point where I am glad that fans didn’t have a direct and negative impact on the final round of the Valspar this weekend.  My expectations are that low now.  And that’s not good.

2018 Winter Giveaway – Thanks!


Every day on the golf course in 2018 should be a great day for us!

We made it.  Winter is almost in the rear view mirror.  We’re about a month away from The Masters and courses across Canada will be opening over the coming months to kick off another season.  We’ll be trading in our snow shovels for sand wedges and winter boots for golf shoes.

Congratulations to Week 9 winner Bethann Dekoker.  She was one of 157 entries which I tabulated over the previous 8 weeks.  You’ll be mailed a Snell Golf Canada hat and 6 golf balls!

I want to thank you all – past followers and new followers – for making the past 9 weeks fun and enjoyable.  Congratulations to all the winners, in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Alberta and a couple in the USA – South Carolina and Massachusetts.  You’ll be rocking some great new hats and playing excellent golf balls.

Special thanks to my friends at Snell Golf Canada and the great guys at 36 Golf Co. for their fantastic products.  I’m going to reflect on this but feel this should be an annual tradition.  I hope we can keep engaging around this game which we love.

Special thanks to new followers who won five of the nine weeks, that’s awesome!

I hope 2018 is your best golf season yet.  Short grass all year!

Sincere thanks, Mike

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Smuggler’s Glen – An Eastern Ontario Must Play

Course Reviews – Smuggler’s Glen – An Eastern Ontario Must Play


From the first tee deck you’re so close to the St. Lawrence River.  The relaxed feel is consistent throughout the course.

East of Kingston, Ontario the 401 highway offers an exit called The Thousands Islands Parkway.  This scenic drive brings drivers very close to the St. Lawrence River and quickly on your left Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course along with the Glen House Resort.  The course opened for play in 2005 and was designed by Boyd Barr who created an enjoyable resort course on what Robert Thompson called a “cool piece of property”.  With a river view from the first tee deck, surprising elevation change (used most effectively off the tee on many holes) and outstanding conditioning, this course is one of Eastern Ontario’s best courses.  The course hosted a PGA Tour Canada event in 2012 and while not overly long – just over 6600 yards from the black tees – it possesses a 134 slope rating that will demand your attention.

The opening hole is an awkward hole, a par 5 called The Gorge, as players need to position their tee shot over a gorge into a precise landing area with prominent granite outcroppings making a play of less than driver smart.  The course finds it groove very well on the third hole, as Barr’s intelligent use of the terrain featuring many elevated tee shots to generous fairways  The 4th hole, ‘Bio Challenge’, is a well-designed risk-reward par 5 that provides players several options to play the hole.  Conservative or aggressive, a long yet thin green will make your approach shot very important.


A well designed hole, the 4th will give players who drive it well a chance to reach in two.

I was very impressed with the course routing and its overall conditioning.  Being a resort course, it is very playable for golfers of all skill levels and the course supports this through five sets of tees, their Green tees measuring at just over 4700 yards.  The greens were consistent and in excellent condition.  The tee boxes were generous and in very good condition given it was peak season.  Staff were outstanding – professional and courteous – and if you can afford the time, their patio allows for excellent views set high and overlooking the river.  Our group made time to add up the scorecard, enjoy a beverage and a bite to eat.

The back nine, after looping back to the clubhouse, features three memorable golf holes.  The 12th is a shorter driveable par 4.  Called ‘The Gambler’, this uphill hole does provide a good birdie opportunity.  The 13th – ‘The Rock’ – features the prominence of the Canadian Shield and is aptly named.  The rock wall is impressive.  The closing hole, another par 5, makes up for the awkwardness of the opening hole and is an intelligent design, challenging players to consider an aggressive approach shot or a more cautious layup.  The strong finishing hole capped off a fabulous golfing experience and left me impressed about Smuggler’s Glen as a fun, resort golf course which will provide a test for golfers of all levels.


My playing partner Greg was putting on a stripe show hitting fairways all day.

Aura – 7.5 out of 10 – Playing a course where professionals play is always a special experience.   The course is more active in marketing itself but its location within a more underrated part of the province in terms of golf keeps it more of a hidden gem.  Excellent conditions combined with the scenery – in and around the course – made more a memorable golf round.

Value (cost / experience) – 8 out of 10.  Peak fees are $92 and this includes cart; solid for what you get.  I did not expect to enjoy the experience as much as I did; Smuggler’s Glen is truly one of the more underrated courses I have played in Canada.  I could only imagine how beautiful this course would play in the fall season with leaves changing set against the rock and the lush green fairways.


The Canadian Shield is a prominent feature throughout the course and the rock outcroppings frame landing areas exceptionally well.

Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 8.5 out of 10 – I really enjoyed this course.  The conditioning was consistent and superb.  I appreciate the intelligent use of the terrain to create many vistas for confident and visually impressive tee shots.  The awkwardness of the opening hole and its focus on precision was a contrast to the rest of the course and being a first time player, I now know how to effectively play that hole.  The warm up/practice facilities were under construction; one step back to take two important steps forward.  Good to see that investment being made.

Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – 8.0 out of 10 – Smuggler’s Glen anchors an impressive and underrated golf region in Ontario.  Eastern Ontario is not prominently thought of for golf, with water activities along the river leading recreational interests.  But this course was fantastic and for golfers who are seeking a relaxed and challenging golf experience I urge you to visit and play a round.  Like myself, I am confident it won’t be your last.


Even waiting on the tee has a relaxed feel to it!

Highlight (what is great about the course) – What’s great?  The people, most definitely.  The course, like the golfing experience overall, has few weak points.  Playing with a couple buddies, we were able to enjoy a friendly, relaxed round which rewarded good play (them) and penalized errant shots (me).  The property and its location capped off a fabulous day, and being only 3 hours east of Toronto I look forward to returning to play it again (and again).

Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – Absent a truly memorable ‘signature hole’ (there’s many options) the course offers a level of consistency and quality which players will enjoy.  The resort feel at Smuggler’s Glen is on point.


The clubhouse patio overlooks the river and is set at a high point at the club.  A great way to reflect on a fun round of golf.

Impressions of the 2018 Toronto Golf Show


It has become an annual tradition and an important step closer to the start of the golf season in southern Ontario.  Having attended this show for almost 10 years now I have seen some significant changes over the years; mostly good.  This years’ show was a favourite of mine and I feel the organizers are always working for a strong balance of exhibitors to reflect both the golf and the travel components.

My purpose for attending the show has changed over time.  In my early days, before I was writing about golf, my sole intent was to seek as many free rounds of golf as possible and hoard information on courses in Ontario and destinations across Canada which I dreamed of playing.  Those early days (for me) provided more significant giveaways.  Today, there are less opportunities for free rounds but many more opportunities to win – rounds, trips and more.  What is more important for me now is making and maintaining connections with people in the golf industry whom I have gotten to know.


The rule has never changed – don’t touch a trophy unless you’ve won it.

I was surprised when I left that I had only been there less than three hours, but I could see the people I wanted, meet some new people, grab information which is still relevant to me and walk the floors and up and down each booth to get a feel for the energy and buzz of the show.

My first surprise was when I arrived; with less than an hour to opening I was about 100 in line.  A cold rainy morning is likely to blame, but this was a far cry from years past where the line snaked around and went out the door.  The line was so manageable that I queued up for free golf.    A popular promotion, many Ontario courses offer up free twosomes early in the season.  With a limit of 5000 rounds over the three days, this is a popular aspect of the show.  With the time and a decent space in line I felt fortunate to get a course which while not on my bucket list has been of high interest for me to experience.  Less than hour after opening the floors were packed with visitors so my good fortune was not at the expense of overall crowds for opening day.


Friends may wonder why I didn’t spend my entire afternoon here.

The layout of the space – and it is expansive – is well thought out.  Equipment manufacturers occupy a large area, complete with space to try the latest product.  PGA Ontario offers, as they have for years, 10 minute lessons with certified teaching professionals.  Golf Canada and Golf Ontario are prominent, as they have been for years as well.  Travel destinations – local, national and international (and not all golf related) occupied significantly more space than past years and it is nice to see an increased balance to the Travel aspect of the show.  Of course, golf courses and resorts, along with golf marketing bodies, are core business and these take up most of the space.  Many exhibitors offer excellent specials which one can only access at the show.  Regions are smart to provide package specials and stay and play offers to entice a Toronto audience away to experience golf further than they may normally go to play.  The value options are outstanding.  Friends I have gotten to know from Golf PEI, Golf North and Golf Cape Breton were all in attendance.


Always a pleasure to meet Jay from the Thirty 6ix Golf Co.

An influx in exhibitors in other areas of the game – apparel, history/memorabilia, nutrition, fitness, and even the official beer of 36aday, Triple Bogey Brewery – reflects the increased diversity and a more holistic approach to exhibiting options.  There is a food court and a few high profile discounted golf retailers around too.

The show also profiles speakers and instructors throughout the weekend.  You may recall last year I had an opportunity to meet Dean Snell who was a key presenter on the Friday and Saturday.

I left with less than a quarter of the information and swag I used to bring home from my early years.  But I did get what I wanted from the show; a couple new business cards and important conversations with friends; two rounds of golf and some apparel options for the upcoming year.  Most importantly, I left with a sense that this may have been the best Toronto Golf and Travel Show experience I have had in my 10 years of attendance.  I can’t see how anyone would leave not feeling pleased, there really is something for everyone there.


Didn’t take long after opening for things to get busy.

Click here to read about my 2017 visit.

Click here to read about my 2015 visit.





2018 Winter Giveaway – Week 9

First, my congratulations to Serge Palin who was the winner of a dozen Snell Golf Canada balls for Week 8.  Serge entered three times last week – Instagram, Facebook and on the blog.  Well done and thanks for following!

This is the final week.  Week 9.  We’re only 5+ weeks until The Masters so we did it.  We got through the worst of the winter.  I’ll share a recap next week so I’ll hold off from an extended thanks at this time.  So how do you enter?  You already have.  Every single entry over the first 8 weeks has you eligible for the week 9 prize.  We’re trading in the toque for a Snell Canada black hat.  Of course, I’ll throw two sleeves of balls too.  Even the Get Sum balls will be white…it’s time to think spring friends!

I hope as the weather improves and we soon move the clubs from the basement or garage onto the course, I hope you’ll continue to visit my blog regularly.  I’ll be adding more course reviews and continue my quest to play courses on my bucket list.  I’ll have more interviews, opinion pieces and even a book review or two.  I hope you’ll see some better photographs and am always happy to engage around issues of public golf in Canada so reach out anytime.  As you all know, I’m on Twitter (@36aday), Instagram (@mj_36aday) and on Facebook (36aday Blog).


Week 9

The final week of the 2018 Winter Giveaway is up for grabs.  If you entered anytime over the previous 8 weeks you’re eligible to win!  Thanks for your support this winter.