My 2016 B.C. Golfing Adventure
Vancouver – Kamloops – Surrey – Chase – Salmon Arm – Vancouver
Total Mileage – 1660 km
Sandwiched around a conference, a presentation and two meetings, were two days of golf and travel to the Thompson/Okanagan golf region of BC. A peppy 2016 Nissan Altima would prove to be a comfortable and spacious way to travel. As itineraries go, this is not going to be my most efficient but it would certainly rank high around its enjoyment and scenery. The route was a new one for me; I have not ventured outside of Vancouver by car before. My only BC driving adventures were in my early 20’s as a tree planter in and around the Prince George and Smithers areas of BC, and most recently, on a long weekend away with my wife from Victoria to Tofino. This recent drive is one I hope to experience again one day, I loved it.
With my work commitments set, I had a one-day window which I used to travel west of Kamloops to play what Canadian Golf Magazine cites as a national top 10 course, Tobiano. A full review of all courses will be forthcoming but safe to say this course lived up to its billing as a top course in the country. The natural setting, layout, and conditioning were all spectacular and if there was one thing that topped it was the passion, commitment and friendliness of staff. Simply put, it is one of the best courses I have ever played. In less than ideal weather, the dramatic backdrop of Lake Kamloops and an emerging weather system was incredible to experience. I made an impulsive decision to take the longer route along the Trans Canada which followed the Fraser River Valley to Cache Creek before taking a sharp right toward Kamloops. I am very glad I did. I had the time; my rental vehicle was processed quickly and my ability to get on the highway early and avoid early morning traffic outside of the airport allowed for this altered plan. The route moved from the Fraser River to the Thompson River and views were no less spectacular. As for the round itself, it was a good day to have a good day. I hit the ball exceptionally well and enjoyed a solitary spectator; a bald eagle watching me from overhead. Wow. Tom McBroom did outstanding work designing a course which is truly world class. It was an experience and a day I won’t soon forget. My drive back was more direct but no less dramatic along Highway 5. Driving downhill for 19km reflects the incredible elevation changes.
Following a day of work back in Surrey I was up early and off again, this time further north than Kamloops to an unheralded and underrated Talking Rock Golf Course at Quaaout Lodge north of Chase BC. The drive was a relaxed and easy one; there is very little traffic along the way on a Friday early in the morning. The course is a relaxed, meandering route which moves away from Little Shuswap Lake. The conditioning was superb and it provided an enjoyable morning round and golf experience. The tranquility of my morning was broken by a deer which ran across the 7th fairway following my tee shot; certainly nothing which kept me out of a relaxed rhythm of play. The course is spacious off the tee despite it being carved out of tall forest. The dramatic views off 14 and 15 are further accentuated by the awe and beauty of 18, a par 4 which runs along Little Shuswap Lake. I made time for lunch at the resort and was very glad I did, as it my seafood clubhouse sandwich was outstanding and fuelled me along for about 45 minutes further north and east to Salmon Arm. Talking Rock was the most underrated course of my loop and was a more than adequate replacement for Sagebrush which was yet to be opened under their new management of Troon Golf. I was the beneficiary of this circumstance and eagerly await a chance to return to Talking Rock.
My last round of this trip was a mature beauty, Salmon Arm Golf Club. The staff were helpful and accommodating in allowing me to tee off early. On a beautiful, sunny day I played the first few holes in solitude, seemingly having this venerable course to myself. There were three quick observations which provided consistent throughout my experience at Salmon Arm; first, this is a challenging course off the tee. It is tight and tree lined and requires exceptional ball striking. Second, the elevation changes are utilized exceptionally well to create stunning vistas and challenge with approaches. And lastly, the greens are simply exceptional and cap off the quality of the condition of this mature course. The round was a leisurely, relaxed experience and despite an offer to pass a group in front of me I wanted time to take pictures and savour the experience. The course provided challenge and beauty at every turn and I hope to get back so I can use my newfound course knowledge to good use.
A quiet night in Salmon Arm allowed me a nice early morning drive back to Vancouver. GPS helped me get the car back quickly and stress free. My work schedule did not allow me more than three rounds and I wouldn’t have changed a thing about this itinerary. The spring in BC brought summer-like conditions to the courses I played. The Friday round was sunshine and mid 20’s. Golfing in BC has a unique and spectacular awe to it and with three courses of this quality and unique character to it, it has only whet the appetite to get back there and build a new itinerary, adding new courses to this impressive list. The chance to strike off two bucket list courses, and really, add a third which I can also check off is a treat. Course reviews forthcoming; and additional pictures!
This country offers such great golf. BC, which boasts itself as ‘Super, Natural, British Columbia’ may as well have been talking about its golf. Thanks for great golf and great golfing memories.