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.


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.





Underrated Provinces for Golf in Canada

Underrated and underappreciated golf in Canada.

The simple fact is there is not a Cabot Cliffs or a Banff Springs in every province in Canada.  With respect to the quantity and quality of golf options, provinces across Canada are simply not the same.  The PGA of Canada and Golf Canada co-authored a report, Golf Facilities in Canada 2017, which provides data and information on golf facilities and development in Canada.  One thing that is interesting to this report is their provincial breakdown on the quantity and type of courses available – 6, 9, 12 and 18 hole courses, including resorts, public and private clubs.

In late 2017 I had set up a Twitter poll asking followers to identify the province they feel is most underrated and underappreciated in terms of the quality of public golf available.  Results were modest and by no means provide any scientific data, but do provide insight to the hunch I had that a valid case can be made for all four of these provinces as being underrated and underappreciated.



With about 10% of Canada’s course offerings there is considerably more to choose here than one might think.  Saskatchewan is only second behind Ontario in 9-hole courses and the ratio is courses to the population base is quite high.  But add a qualitative component to it and only Dakota Dunes appears as a consensus top 100 course in the country.  Perhaps this just proves the point though, as courses like Waskesiu, Kenosee and Moon Lake (among others) are admired by those who play them.  I have a business trip this spring in Regina and will aim to get 2-3 rounds, so look for more insight.  I’ve played Waskesiu and as a Stanley Thompson design, it’s a sensational golfing experience.  Dakota Dunes is rightfully situated well within the country’s top 100 courses, it is fantastic.  It’s a region I would love to spend more time playing.

Lobstick Tree

Lobstick Tree at Waskesiu in the first fairway

Newfoundland and Labrador

Not exactly top of mind when one thinks golf in Canada and that alone can sway opinion.  But what they lack in terms of quantity they more than make up for in terms of quality.  With only 22 courses/facilities available in the province a focus on two will help make the case for those who voted NL.  Canadian Golf Magazine, in 2015, voted Humber Valley Resort as the 37th best course in the country.  Located on the western side of Newfoundland, south of Deer Lake and north of Corner Brook, this course is a must play for visitors to the Island. The course website has some of the most incredible visual images of the course which will make you want to book your travel for next year.  Within St. John’s, Graham Cooke designed Clovelly Golf Club has two courses but it is the Osprey Course which players will want to experience (likely more than once).  In a pinch for time in St. John’s?  Try Pippy Park which has 27 holes.  Admiral’s Green is their 18-hole course and the view from the par 3 7th is worth the green’s fees alone.  A long fall season will allow players chances to often play well into November.  But to me, Newfoundland will always be an underrated province for golf.  With a few strong, quality options it is certainly underappreciated.


Minutes from the airport, Admiral’s Green at Pippy Park will give you some incredible views of St. John’s


New Brunswick

Here, the challenges seem to be the rather large shadow cast from the quality of golf in Nova Scotia (the Cabot courses alone are driving a boom) and the marketing machine and marriage of value and quality of golf in Prince Edward Island.  Yet that aside, New Brunswick with a population just over 750,000 has over 50 golf facilities available (54 to be exact).  The provinces geography is such that courses are likely no more than an hour away for anyone.  Algonquin holds the mantle of the best course in the province and rightfully so in my opinion.  Rated 77th in Canada in 2015 by CGM (and underrated at that), like Saskatchewan this is the only course cracking the top 100.  But other courses like Royal Oaks, Kingswood, Gowan Brae and unique Herring Cove all add merit to New Brunswick being high on this list.  Worthy of its own accolades, New Brunswick complements the quality of golf in the Maritimes and in so many ways merit its own unique praise.


The signature hole at Algonquin is their par 3 12th.  Sensational and part of a fabulous stretch of golf holes.


I must confess, I have never golfed in Friendly Manitoba.  And while this is about to change this summer with a visit to Winnipeg.  No one better to connect with on this then Jeremy Kehler of Prairie Golf Magazine.  He was quick to point out that the omission of Granite Hills from top Canadian course rankings is confusing.  Just over an hour outside of Winnipeg it seems he is not underselling this based on my conversations and preliminary research on this course.  Other courses identified, like Minnewasta and Falcon Lake show a level of quality which should not be surprising given the province boasts 130 golf facilities.  Included in this is the country’s only 6-hole course!  After the summer is complete I will have an informed opinion to share but for now I will let Jeremy and others beat the drum for Manitoba.  Fact is it was tied for first with 30% of responses citing Manitoba most underrated and underappreciated.

The winner of this debate is the public player.  Shining a light on the provinces (and great courses within) that don’t get enough golf love provide us chances to get off the beaten path and identify our own golf destinations and courses which we want to play.

Let me know if there is a course you know in any of these four provinces which should be on players and visitors radar.

Golf and Travel in Canada – Part 1

If you’re from away you may not know that Canada is the second largest country in terms of surface area (under 10 million square km).  Canada is also second in terms of the number of golf courses in the world at 2,298 (, impressive for a golf-mad country with over 5 million players (according to Golf Canada).

My tip for travel – in any country – is to pick a region or two and spend dedicated time; travel around, play golf and immerse yourself in the food, culture and history of the area.  If you’re not from Canada, for goodness sake, do your homework on the weather…we do extremes exceptionally well.  I pack a winter hat (toque) in my golf bag all year just do you know.  If you’re open to all that’s possible in Canada here are just a few options:


This is easy, visit Newfoundland and Labrador.  Within Canada this is one of the most unique geographic and cultural places to see and experience.  The capitol, St. John’s is a great base to start your Newfoundland adventure.  Simply some of the most honest kind-hearted people you’ll ever want to meet; the food, music and land (and sea) make this one of my favourite places to visit in Canada.  Leo’s was the most authentic fish and chips location I’ve experienced in St. John’s though Ches’s is a strong option (order the stuffing and gravy on top of the fish and chips).  If you need a quick golf fix there’s a course, Pippy Park, mere minutes from the St. John’s airport though Clovelly is another option in the city.  Worth the drive, a visit to Gros Morne National Park will take you close to Humber Valley Golf Resort.  One of the top public courses in Canada, the view on the 10th tee gets all the accolades but facts are you better have your camera ready earlier than that.  During your visit maybe you’ll get screeched in too?

Fun Fact – Twilingate, NL is the Iceberg Capital of Canada


Minutes from St. John’s airport, Pippy Park offers this sensational view!


Quidi Vidi, located within St. John’s, has a rich history, a fabulous brewery and a vibrant artisan community.

Wonders of the World

Niagara Falls is a spectacular sight.  Almost 175 feet in height and dropping over 28 million liters of water a second.  With over 12 million tourists a year this is a very popular destination but for golfers no fear, there are many excellent courses to enjoy too.  Golf complements Niagara’s world class wines and the natural beauty of the Falls. The Niagara Parks Commission administers two courses I’d recommend:  Oak Hall is a 9-hole course and is just over 1000 yards.  Convenient, picturesque and historic it’s fun for the whole family.  Whirlpool is set close to the Niagara gorge and was designed by one of Canada’s best known golf architects, Stanley Thompson.   My last recommendation is one of the area’s newest courses, Grand Niagara.  Developed by Rees Jones, this course is set back and west of the popular Niagara River area.  Immaculate conditioning and a stern test, this will give you some solitude after the lights, sounds and experiences of Clifton Hill (although I am more a Niagara on the Lake guy myself).

Fun Fact – The Maid of the Mist began operating in 1846 and is North America’s oldest tourist attraction.

Island Life

With a relatively season to enjoy summer weather, three of Canada’s most popular islands offer a multitude of activity to complement some of Canada’s best golf:

Cape Breton Island


The 6th hole at The Lakes offers an incredibly view of Bras d’Or Lake

Located on Canada’s east coast this is becoming Canada’s world class golf destination, hosting three of Canada’s top 5 courses.  Add to this my favourite drive in all of Canada, the Cabot Trail, and seafood options galore, you will find yourself planning your next visit before you’ve completed the first trip.  Travelers tip – while Cabot’s two courses gets considerable love (and rightfully so) take the time to research options for other courses.  I loved playing The Lakes in Ben Eoin, just outside of Sydney.  Bell Bay in Baddeck hosts a PGA Tour Canada event but the Baddeck Lobster Supper may be the real draw.

Fun Fact – Historic Keltic Lodge in Ingonish, NS has been in operation since 1940 from June to October.

Cabot Links 16th

This is my favourite golf hole I’ve ever played, the 16th at Cabot Links.  (Photo Credit – Cabot Links)

Prince Edward Island


Anne of Green Gables attracts thousands of tourists and is conveniently adjacent to Green Gables Golf Club in Cavendish, PEI

This is simply my favourite place to play golf in Canada.  The island is barely over 200 kilometers wide yet boasts over 25 courses.  The golf is exceptional, the courses diverse in their layout.  Golf PEI supports the promotion of golf on the Island and provides travel specialists to take care of all your golf travel needs (and from experience they are exceptional).  A vibrant food scene, history, culture and incredible proximity to the sea makes this my favourite golf destination in the country.  And all that without mention of world famous Cows Ice Cream or the fabulous PEI Brewing Company.  I have written extensively about the gentle island, as my 2015 fall golf trip was legendary.

Fun Fact – there is no place on PEI that is more than 16 km from the Sea.


Stanhope’s seaside views are fantastic.  It also boasts one of the best stretches of golf holes on the island, 11-16, wow.

Vancouver Island

Almost 6000km west of Prince Edward Island is Vancouver Island, set on the west coast of Canada.  Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and is a smaller but vibrant city with an historic charm.  A walk along the harbourfront is a must set near the majestic Fairmont Empress hotel.  I’ve spent a long night sampling local beers at Garrick’s Head but the Bard and Banker along with Bartholomew’s are also highly recommended pubs.  The natural beauty of Vancouver Island is on full display at every corner and a visit to Tofino with its beaches, surfing and storm watching potential is a recommendation I would make to anyone visiting the region.  Golfers do not despair; the Vancouver Island Golf Trail will guide you along 250 kilometers of picturesque coastline of the eastern Island with 13 courses set to break up the drive.  Many of these courses are top rated public courses in Canada including a couple on my own Bucket List of Canadian Courses, Bear Mountain’s two courses (Mountain and Valley) and Storey Creek.


The Mountain course has integrated it’s famous 19th hole into play and on a clear day there may not be a better view on a golf course on the Island.  (Photo Credit –

Fun Fact – Vancouver Island boasts on the country’s mildest climates and provides year-round golf opportunities.

Of course, these are only a few destinations in Canada where you can easily mix in golf do a diverse agenda of travel and other leisure activity.  I’ll share more destination locations where you can pack the clubs along too and round out a Canadian adventure.  Feel free to contact me directly on Twitter (@36aday) and I’ll share any insight on golf and travel in Canada.  It’s never too early to start planning a golf travel adventure within Canada.  In 2018 I have travel planned for British Columbia (Vancouver…but not the Island), Manitoba (a new adventure for me from a golf perspective) and Saskatchewan (time to revisit this underrated part of the country and explore new highways and courses).  I’ll share my experiences and look forward to experiencing some great public courses.


Forest Golf Club and Inn – My greatest value play

Forest Golf Club and Inn


Back in 2010 – a much warmer weekend then 2017 – my Dad tees off on hole 1.

It’s a subtle re-brand, changing the name from Forest Golf and Country Hotel to Forest Golf Club and Inn.  New course ownership, under the GolfNorth consortium is bringing about some changes but what remains the same is 27 holes and some of Ontario’s best value in golf.  You won’t find Forest on top course listings; in fact their 18-hole course doesn’t have a hole over 400 yards.  As a par 66, this windswept course offers value, fun and enough challenge to bring golfers back.


Looking off the 7th tee to the 6th green and the 4th fairway.

I play this course annually on the last weekend of April with a group of 24.  This year marked our 17th year visiting this rural farming community about 45 km east of Sarnia, Ontario and just south of Lake Huron.  Over the years we’ve experienced hot, summer-like conditions, late winter wet snow and pretty much everything in between.  In addition, Forest has a 9-hole course but it is set more in a valley and is prone to early season dampness or flooding.  This year all 27 holes were open and the course was lush and played long.

The course has a hotel on site along with a restaurant so it is possible for visitors to park their car and not start it back up until it’s time to leave.  The restaurant is not as lively as it once was, with other places in town (only 5 minutes away) providing some stiff competition.  However, despite this, Forest Golf Club and Inn remains one of the best value golf destinations I have experienced.  The shoulder season special of 2 days/2 nights unlimited golf is $140.00. Most of our players come a day before and their 3 day/3 night special is $190.00  They promote the “Unlimited Golf Package” year round so even in the peak season there is value to be had.  Now this does not include cart fees which for our group – given our collective age and skill level are mandatory but for a group of golfers of diverse skill who are all seeking two rounds a day, this is perfect for us.


Bundled up and battling cold winds, the approach on the island green at 11 is even tougher.

The course starts in the valley for the first two holes with a straightaway par 4 and a par 3.  Moving up, the wind and water come into play.  Despite the 3rd hole being a short 124 yards (and often playing shorter) a crowned green and strong spring winds make it a tough hole.  The course is well protected by water on 8 holes.  Even at only 4600 yards, this provides the course some teeth.  Renovations over the past few years feature Lambton County’s only island green on the par 4 11th.  The approach, always into a strong breeze any time I have played it, makes the short iron approach much more challenging than that yardage would indicate.  The longest holes – 12 and 14 (368 yards and 380) are made tougher by the fact one of them is always directly into the wind.  One year, our group factored four extra clubs because of the wind and still came up short on the approach.

The conditions are consistently good but more attention to the greens would take this course to another level.  But make no mistake, this course is without pretense and provides relaxed, enjoyable golf for players of all skills levels.  Their second set of tees make the 18 hole course just under 3900 yards.  The nine hole course is a par 33, with 6 par 4’s and 3 par 3’s.  At 2057 yards, it uses elevation changes to create fun and challenge.


The hotel is clean and built to accommodate groups exceptionally well with one wing extending just adjacent to the 18th green making it convenient to leave the clubs in the cart over lunch before a second round.


On the tee at Hole 10.  A longer straightaway par 4.

My favourite stretch on the course is holes 4-6 which wrap around a large pond and reflect the risk-reward aspect of Forest.  Driveable greens for sure, with holes 4 and 5 playing 264 and 267, but water and OB await any errant shots.  The 9th hole is also a fun one with players seeking to cut the corner on the dog leg par 4 over water and make their second shot as short as possible.

Forest Golf Club and Inn does not try to oversell itself; it is a shorter, fun and very approachable golf course.  With a focus on value yet possessing enough challenge for all players it remains the home of the Pitch, Putt and Gimme group based in Hamilton, Ontario and next year will be year 18.  Maybe next year I can finally get a birdie on the challenging downhill par 3 17th, only 109 yards but I have bogied that hole more than I’ve parred it and have yet to birdie it in 17 years!  Always good memories, good golf and exceptional value.

For this value conscious golfer looking for a relaxed, fun golf experience this is the place for you.



With 40 km/h winds, approach shots need to carefully thought out.

Aura – 5 out of 10 – Perhaps too far removed from major golfing markets, but under the GolfNorth banner this may change over time.  It has a small but faithful following and focuses wisely on its golf value.

Value (cost / experience) – 10 out of 10.  The focus, given the location, is the stay and play deals and Forest is smart in its marketing efforts.   Even in the peak season, our group could enjoy 3 days accommodation and unlimited golf for $265 pp.

Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 6 out of 10 – I quite like the layout and appreciate the investments made over years (improvements to bridges and fairways).  The greens remain inconsistent and have been that way for many years now.  And while some feel a par 5 would help add to the course, I like that focus on shorter playability.  Our group includes several retirees who don’t play much golf yet everyone feels they can play this course and contribute in a scramble.

Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – 7 out of 10 – This course is a fun way to kick off my golf season and after the Masters is done, I focus my attention to Forest and the start of my golf season.  I like the fact that the course mixes shorter, more forgiving holes with some challenge (water, design and wind).

Highlight (what is great about the course) – The 18th hole and its proximity to the hotel can provide a gallery at times.  For our group, add a couple drinks and the pressure of the approach or birdie putt on 18th becomes more pronounced.  Like the 16th at TPC Scottsdale, the 18th at Forest has taken on an enjoyable life of its own on late afternoon rounds.


Spring 2016 – one of my favourite golf pictures. 14th tee at Forest, Dad and I.

36 Holes. 36 Hours. Golf Tripping to Kelowna, B.C.


The views at Tower Ranch overlooking Kelowna are sensational.

Kelowna, British Columbia is one of the most picturesque cities in Canada, positioned beautifully in the Okanagan Valley and along Okanagan Lake.  Arriving at Vancouver International Airport on an overcast morning, I had set an itinerary for myself over 36 hours which would allow me two rounds of golf at two of Kelowna’s 18 local courses, and arguably two of their best and both positioned on my bucket list – Gallagher’s Canyon and Tower Ranch.  My GPS identified the drive from YVR to Gallagher’s Canyon at just over 4.5 hours.  As is the case anytime I’ve driven in BC, the journey is just as memorable as the destination.  The drive to Kelowna, along the Trans Canada, and Highways 5 and 97, took me over two mountain passes – Needle Peak and Pennask Mountain.  At Pennask, the elevation change took the rain showers I had experienced from Vancouver and changed it over to a significant snowfall.  Considering I was only about 50km from the course it was eye opening to experience this!  Gallagher’s Canyon is about 35 years old and is set along Scenic Canyon.


The 9th hole sets players alongside the expansive canyon drop to the left.  But the impressiveness truly starts on the opening tee with one of the best opening tee shots in golf in Canada.  This is an excellent layout with brilliant use of the elevation change throughout the course.  A full review of Gallagher’s Canyon is forthcoming at 36aday but this is an excellent championship course which hosts the PGA of BC Championship.


Gallagher’s Canyon provides one of the best opening tee shots I’ve experienced in Canada.  Set high above the fairway, tee it high and let it fly!


The peak at Pennask Mountain is about 1700m above sea level and brought some early May weather I did not expect.

Activities outside the golf course are plentiful with wine tours, craft breweries, arts, spas and farm-to-table tours to mention only a few, and of course there is the lake and the abundance of water activities.  Resting up after a memorable round and sampling local beer and farm-fresh food, I was able to arrive early at Tower Ranch Golf Club.  A Tom McBroom design, this course is one of the most visually stunning I have experienced with intelligence in its design.


Course designer Tom McBroom uses the terrain so effectively as seen here on the par 5, 15th.

My advice; play one tee forward as the course demands excellent ball striking.  Yet McBroom adds a playability factor for players of all skill level with his design that can funnel shots back into position through effective use of the natural, and very hilly terrain.  It’s a course I’d love to play again and again.  Holes 11-13 may be one of my favourite three-hole stretches I’ve experienced.  Fortunate to catch a sunny day, it only added to the awe of the vistas looking over the entire city from its location high up the hillside.  Finishing my round, it was hard to believe that my quick trip to Kelowna had come to an end.  With business in Vancouver I had to return back and the drive, set in brilliant, mild sunshine was relaxed and easy.


Get used to views like this on your drive.

Everything about this trip was easy and efficient.  Airport car rentals are extremely efficient to get renters off quickly.  Having booked tee times in advance, the toughest decision I had over the two days was where to go for dinner and what to eat.  Tacking on time over any trip to Vancouver, this two-day, one night getaway is exciting, memorable and will have you wanting to come back to Kelowna for more.

Two days.  921 km.  36 holes.  2 bucket list courses.  One incredible city and a great golfing experience.

Bucket List Overview – Part 4 – Prince Edward Island

This is the fourth of 10 posts that will look back on the current status of my bucket list.  Focusing on all 10 provinces, I’ll share links to courses played and remaining on my list, along with some new courses for consideration.  I’ll share some pictures, stories and wishes for future travel.  Canada is an amazing country for public golf, go play (once the snow is melted, of course).

Bucket List Courses PlayedLinks at Crowbush Cove, Brudenell River, Dundarave, Mill River, Stanhope, Fox Meadow, Green Gables, Eagles Glenn, Glasgow Hills, Andersons Creek

Bucket List Courses Remaining

Other Courses Played

Bucket List Contenders

Other Courses of Note – Belfast Highland Greens



The iconic Anne of Green Gables home is set close to the 11th hole of Green Gables Golf Club


PEI is a unique golfing destination in Canada.  It is also brings together exceptional golfing quality, value, convenience, hospitality and interests to complement time away from the course.  I have written extensively about my golf experience in Fall 2015 on the Gentle Island and it remains my favourite place to play golf in Canada.  With courses set within the top 100 in Canada you get access to quality courses like Crowbush Cove and Dundarave.  You can play courses built by designers like Stanley Thompson, Graham Cooke, Dr. Michael Hurdzen / Dana Fry, and Robbie Robinson among others.  If you’re fortunate to play the top courses on the Island you may find – as I did – that there are other courses which deserve strong consideration to be on that list, notably Green Gables and Mill River.  This bucket list trip allowed me to play all 10 of my PEI courses in a 6 day span.  I have ranked these 10 courses on the Island and invite you to share your feedback on this list, acknowledging all ranking lists are highly subjective.


Carr’s. If you’re going to be near Stanley Bridge it’s well worth a visit.

There are four courses which the province of PEI owns and operates; Crowbush, Mill River, Dundarave and Brudenell.  Arguably four of the top courses on the Island, they represent the diversity of golf available on PEI.  Close to Cavendish is a cluster of excellent golf, mere minutes away from each other: Green Gables, Eagles Glenn, Glasgow Hills and Andersons Creek are all in close proximity.  For travelers, the course closest to the Charlottetown airport which we played was Fox Meadow.  If you can only squeeze in a round this would be your choice.  And the most relaxed location?  That goes to Stanhope.  Don’t let it’s benign from nine fool you.  The back nine is simply breathtaking and offers a stretch of golf holes which are arguably the most scenic on the Island.


There’s a 6-hole stretch on the back nine of Stanhope which is simply heavenly.

Utilizing Golf PEI, I was able to secure Island Green Cards for our foursome, allowing us the chance to play all 17 of their member courses.  While our itinerary only allowed us time for 10, at $399 (+taxes) you can understand why PEI provides such great value for golfers.  To find so much great golf, most of it only an hour from where we stayed, PEI continues to be one of Canada’s leading golf destinations.

Travel Notes

Golf PEI operates as a central marketing office for golf courses and the golf industry on PEI.  In conjunction with the four government owned courses via PEI’s Finest Golf, it excels at service, offering technology, print materials and access to people who can help with all aspects of golf trip planning.  For example, I wanted to surprise my group upon our arrival at our rental home (5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, hot tub, pool table, modern kitchen – $1400  +taxes for the week) with ingredients for a seafood feast.  Golf PEI staff connected me to a small seafood shop 2 minutes from our home and I was able to place an order and simply pick it up when I arrived; they actually offered to coordinate with our rental agency to have it all in the fridge for us.  Amazing.


A nice way to end the trip. The tour was informative and enjoyable. Conveniently located downtown Charlottetown, the PEI Brewing Company is a great side trip.

In addition to 10 rounds of golf, we enjoyed 2 meals at New Glasgow Lobster Supper and created great value from the all-you-can-eat mussels.  We booked a tour at the PEI Brewing Company and took some time to wander downtown and try some Cows Ice Cream.  While that trip was all about the golf I can share from experience that PEI beaches are sensational, the coastal drives are relaxing and there are growing and diverse options for foodies.  The west coast offers some of the most spectacular seaside driving views on the Island.  But check for yourself.  My new map to bucket list courses will show, if you zoom in on PEI, how close all these courses are to each other and how easy it is to tour around the entire Island.


Early morning light provides the only filter needed at Eagles Glenn in Cavendish.

While I’ve managed to complete my entire bucket list for this province in one trip, it is a destination I would welcome coming back to and look forward to when I can make a return trip.


My favourite picture of Mill River is the par 3, downhill 5th hole. Stunning.