2016 in Pictures – Talking Rock Golf Club

In an effort to step up my photo game this year I am pleased to share 10 of my favourite golf images over the past year.  With a healthy layer of snow already in southern Ontario I hope this brings back good memories from your 2016 golf season and stokes the fire of anticipation for 2017!

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The Story: Talking Rock Golf Club is in beautiful Chase, BC and wasn’t even on my radar until I began exploring options to squeeze in 36 within driving distance of Salmon Arm.  Sagebrush was closed early this May and I had window of time to explore something off my bucket list.  Talking Rock is part of the Quaaout Lodge set on gorgeous Little Shuswap Lake in the Little Shuswap Indian Band community of the Shuswap Nation.  The area is a postcard and the course was simply beautiful.  Water is only prominent on holes 15 and here on 18.  The tranquility of this picture looking at the 18th green reflects my experience at Talking Rock; understated, peaceful and beautiful.  The Thompson-Nicola region of British Columbia is worth exploring…bring your clubs and make time to visit Talking Rock.  It was an amazing discovery for me.

Click here to view a link of review of Talking Rock

 

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5 Underrated Courses in My Canadian Travels

Playing golf in Canada can be about the journey as it is the destination.  Courses can surprise and amaze in aspects of beauty, quality and fun.  Over my years here are five which I have experienced that I loved.  You likely won’t see any of these on top course lists across the country so I’ve created my own modest list which places these gems front and centre.  Here they are, in no particular order.  The course link will open to my full review:

Waskesiu GC, Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan

It’s a Stanley Thompson design so right off the top I suspected I’d love it.  I drove direct from my flight to Saskatoon north of Prince Albert to the stunning Waskesiu Lake area in the heart of Prince Albert National Park.  The drive was peaceful and the course was sensational.  The rich history of this course and its iconic Lobstick Tree is worth asking about.  The butter tarts that the course sells may be the best in country but that’s another bucket list in itself.  My only wish was that I could spend time in the resort community adjacent to the lake and play this course again (and again).  Not the easiest course to access, but the memories made the drive well worth it.  My conversation with the Marshall the day I was playing was amazing as he regaled me about the history of this beautiful course.  I felt I had gone back in time.

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Lobstick Tree at Waskesiu in the first fairway

Stanhope GCC, Stanhope, Prince Edward Island

I have written much about my 2015 golf trip to the gentle island.  PEI is a golfer’s paradise, providing exceptional value (possibly the best in Canada) with variety, quality and diversity of post-golf activity to make everyone happy.  Stanhope didn’t make my top 5 list of courses on the Island but that speaks more to the quality and value options than it does about any shortcomings at Stanhope.  A true community course, this course brought a level of enjoyment and relaxation on the Island I had not experienced.  Add to it a stunning back nine, with a stretch of golf holes from 12-16 which may be the most underrated golf on the island in terms of sheer beauty.  With a breeze off the ocean on a peaceful afternoon, it was a golfing experience I need to get back and relive.

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A late afternoon sun shining down on the back nine at Stanhope

 

Talking Rock Golf Resort, Chase, British Columbia

The Thompson-Okanagan golf region of British Columbia provides more diversity for golfer than one might expect.  My spring 2016 trip west included an early morning drive (very early!) from Surrey to Chase for a morning round at Talking Rock.  First, the drive is amazing through the mountains – so peaceful and relaxing.  Arriving in Chase, just north of Kelowna, and the Little Shuswap First Nation community is the Quaaout Lodge and Spa which also houses the Talking Rock Golf Resort.  The large log-cabin style conference centre, pro shop and clubhouse set a tone for a tranquil and peaceful golfing experience.  The closing holes, notably 15 and 18, are jaw-dropping showstoppers and reflect the natural beauty of the region.  It’s well worth the visit.  Playing most of the round as a single created a sense of calm and peacefulness I appreciated.

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Teed up and ready to play the stunning 15th at Talk Rock overlooking Little Shuswap Lake

Batteaux Creek GC, Nottawa, Ontario

The Niagara Escarpment cuts along southern Ontario from a swath from Niagara to Tobermory and at various points along the way shows impressive prominence in the landscape.  Such is the case in Nottawa, south of Collingwood, where Batteaux Creek Golf Club has existed since 2002.  While not an annual play, I do try to make time in the fall season to travel the almost two hours north from Toronto, to enjoy this course in all its splendor.  Immaculate conditioning, diversity of golf holes, natural hazards and a stunning fall backdrop with leaves changing in golds, reds, oranges and yellows throughout the property and west along the escarpment.  It’s more a spiritual exercise than it is a golf game.  And for anyone who has experienced this course in the fall, you will know why it makes my list of underrated golf gems in Canada.

Early morning at Batteaux Creek on a flawless fall day.

 

 

Osprey Resort, Guysborough, Nova Scotia

https://36aday.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/osprey_andy2.jpg?w=660This is a rustic, 9-hole course set on Chedabucto Bay in scenic Guysborough, Nova Scotia.  The Marine Drive from Halifax to Canso is simply a must if you have the time.  From Canso, simply head west to Guysborough.  Don’t miss the Rare Bird Pub where after 9 holes (or 18…even 36) you can look over the water and lose yourself in the beauty of this part of the province.  The course is simple in its layout and players of all skill level will be welcome.  Take time to enjoy the views, what I think to be some of the best you will experience in eastern Canada.  My advice for travelers who have time; stop here to get your golf legs and your fix of seafood before making your way north to Cape Breton Island where you will find some of the greatest courses in the country and the world.  I love this course, its people and community.  It reflects everything I love about golfing in Canada.

 

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Beyond the 5th hole at Osprey, overlooking Chedabucto Bay.

 

This is not an exhaustive list.  There are more courses I’ve played I would categorize as underrated.  But I would love to hear your experiences, learn about your courses that would make your list (and that I’d need to add to mine!).

Talking Rock – Add Talking Rock to Your Bucket List

Talking Rock – Add Talking Rock to Your Bucket List

Course Reviews – Talking Rock – Add Talking Rock to Your Bucket List

http://quaaoutlodge.com/content/talking-rock-golf-course

It was circumstance and good fortune that made me add Talking Rock to my early May itinerary in a quick two-day, one night trip to the Shuswap region of BC for some golf.  Sagebrush was not yet opened and I researched options in lieu of this.  Talking Rock was not on my Bucket List but I am going to add it, and you should too.

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Looking back from behind the 2nd green

The course is located outside of Chase, BC – between Kamloops and Salmon Arm.  The course is part of a resort and conference facility on Little Shuswap Indian Band territory on the north shore of Little Shuswap Lake.  Directions to the area are easy but follow signs as you get close.  The course is not visible from the access road and you will head to the resort and conference facility to check in.  Staff will direct you across the road to superb practice facilities and the first tee.

I really appreciated the relaxed layout which meanders throughout the area with stunning views of the mountains.  The course layout is a real strength, creating a sense of solitude throughout the course with few exceptions.  Despite a relaxed layout, it is the course design will demand your attention.  Off the tee, the course varies from demanding to quite generous.  Greens are guarded very well with bunkering, elevation change or, in some cases, ponds.  The tall pines frame holes exceptionally well and create beauty and clarity from tee to green.  The front nine opens strong; fact is, I love the opening six holes.  The par 3 6th is a beautiful par 3 which is guarded well with a bunker on the front and a subtle downhill slope on the front edge of the green.  The par 5 3rd hole is a sensational golf hole tee to green.  Heavily guarded with bunkers around the green, the risk-reward factor for big hitters is real.

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The par 3 6th hole was one of my favourites.

The course really shows its ‘wow factor’ from holes 14 to 18.  The 14th is an uphill par 4 with a slight left-to-right movement.  When you get to the tiered green your work is not done, but take time to look left of the green to get your first view of Little Shuswap Lake.  It shows the subtle climb players have made on the back nine.  The view culminates with a signature hole, the par 3 15th.  This downhill par 3 plays 1-2 clubs less than the yardage depending on wind.  And greenside bunkers are eager to capture errant shots.  I loved the dogleg par 5 16th which continues downward from the high point of the course on the 15th tee (get your cameras out for that look over the lake).  A risk-reward par 4 17th awaits before a straightaway par 4 closing hole which runs adjacent (and very close) to Little Shuswap Lake.  The subtle beauty of the opening 6 holes is replaced by a more awe-inspiring closing set of holes.

Amidst this natural beauty is a course of exceptional quality and conditioning.  Greens ran consistent throughout the course.  The slope changes will require attention on the greens but slope is fair and playable.  The bunkers are very good.

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12th hole off the tee

I finished my round and immediately regretted I could not tee it up again for another 18.  However, I did manage to stretch my stay with a seafood clubhouse at the resort for lunch.  The food, like the golf and the scenery, was spectacular.  Lastly, while piling on praise for this underrated gem, I have to acknowledge the professional and courteous staff who helped make my experience at Talking Rock memorable.

Aura – 6 out of 10 – I had not heard of this course, but locals certainly have.  I am going to do my best to ensure others outside of the area are not in the same boat as me.

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The first view of Little Shuswap Lake is off the left of the 14th green.

Value (cost / experience) – 8 out of 10.  A peak greens fee of $75 is exceptional.  Stay and play offers exist and while there is no mention of a replay rate, the course does offer graduated greens fees based on tee times throughout the afternoon.

Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 8 out of 10 – I loved this course.  The layout creates a sense of solitude I enjoy.  The conditions were very good and consistent throughout the course.  The members and staff take pride in the course and maintain it exceptionally well.  It is also a layout which players of all skill levels will appreciate.

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The stunning 15th is a clear choice for the signature hole at Talking Rock

Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – This was a highly underrated play for me and I am surprised and disappointed this was not on my bucket list from the very beginning.  I felt fortunate to play here and, as I mentioned, really wish I could have played 36. – 8 out of 10

Highlight (what is great about the course) – This course starts strong and ends stronger.  It is a marriage of beauty, challenge and design which all golfers can appreciate.  The closing stretch of holes provides spectacular beauty and great challenge and opportunity for players.  It is the kind of course you could play 60 times in one season and never get bored.

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Looking back over the short par 4 17th.

Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – It’s appropriate I cite a magic wand.  If you get a chance and get paired with a member named George be sure to take the time to explore his incredible magic tricks.  We played the last few holes together and while waiting briefly on the tee for a foursome in front of us he would take the time to show me some amazing card tricks.  The magic of Talking Rock extends beyond the layout and the great staff!

Just So You Know – The resort offers accommodation options and stay and play packages which are clearly presented on their website.   I regret not taking advantage of this and won’t make this rookie mistake next time!  Also, their golf shop is very well stocked.  Love their logo and it only made sense to get some Talking Rock gear.

 

My 2016 B.C. Golfing Adventure

My 2016 B.C. Golfing Adventure

My 2016 B.C. Golfing Adventure

Vancouver – Kamloops – Surrey – Chase – Salmon Arm – Vancouver

Total Mileage – 1660 km

Rounds Played 3 – Tobiano, Talking Rock, Salmon Arm GC

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The Fraser River alongside the Trans Canada Highway

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.

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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.

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Talking Rock Golf Course.

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.

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Clever tee markers at Salmon Arm Golf Club.

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.

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Thompson River Canyon

B.C. Bound – A 2-day golf teaser

Early May.  2 days. 3 courses. 4 rounds. About 1500 km. Pure bliss.

As is now customary, when traveling for work I explore opportunities to tack on a day or two for some golf. A visit to Vancouver and Surrey in early May is no exception and wrapped around the Surrey leg of the trip are two days of driving and golf. Two important things to understand are: I am a morning person, and second, driving is very relaxing for me. And while the itinerary is by no means locked in, I am pleased to share it with you in it’s current state.

On an off day between business meetings I plan on an early departure from Vancouver to Kamloops to experience a top Canadian course, Tobiano. In fact, if I’m fortunate and can get out of the city quick enough I hope to stretch the day to include 36 holes as it will be midweek and relatively early in the season. A definite bucket list course, the chance to play there is something I’m excited for. Following a day of work back in Surrey, I’ll pack up for an overnight trip to Salmon Arm. The day will include two strong value plays and another bucket list opportunity at Salmon Arm Golf Club. The morning round will take me off the Trans Canada highway to play Talking Rock on the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band territory. I’m fascinated by the layout and the beauty of this course and its signature closing hole. I’ll make my way east for an afternoon round at Salmon Arm GC. Canadian Golf Magazine places this well within their top 50 public courses and its on my own bucket list. It should provide the strong value and end this golf trip on a high note. It will be a restful overnight in Salmon Arm before a relaxed drive back to Vancouver to head home in time for Mother’s Day.

One reason I started this blog is to share Canadian golf travel information. I’ve written about golf trip itineraries for trips to Cape Breton Island and PEI before. I want to acknowledge Where 2 Golf, a great site that helped me determine Talking Rock would be my third course to play after finding out Sagebrush would not be open yet when I’m traveling. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions on this itinerary. I don’t know the area. Any must visit restaurants or items to order off the menus of these courses? Any tips for the drive? For me, the experience always includes doing my research, enjoying the journey and the savouring the chance to experience parts of Canada I don’t get to visit regularly.

Time simply stopped me from extending a trip to covering off great Vancouver area courses, getting back to play on Vancouver Island or heading up to Whistler.  Add to this some other quality golfing options in the Thompson/Okanagan region and safe to say these two days will only whet the appetite of this golfer for BC golf.