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Where to play in Canada: Whistler

The best of Whistler's courses is Chateau Whistler, which uses the mountains in a way other area courses don't.

The best of Whistler’s courses is Chateau Whistler, which uses the mountains in a way other area courses don’t.

I’ll admit to having been slammed with a variety of projects I’ve been involved with lately and not writing for the blog much.

In any case I’ve been meaning to do a series on the best public courses you can play from coast to coast. I’ve played a lot in Canada over the last 20 years, including all of SCOREGolf’s Top 100. I have strong opinions on the best places to play and get asked all the time. So here is my take on the best courses from West to East. I’ll pick five for each area — and I’d very much like to hear from readers about any hidden gems I’ve missed or overlooked.

I’m starting in Whistler–the most noted golf destination in BC, though I’m not sure it is the best. For my taste I prefer the Kelowna/Kamloops area. And yes, Bear Mountain in Victoria is worth mentioning, but there isn’t enough outstanding public golf to send someone there on a trip.

  1. Chateau Whistler–Yes, this is mountain golf, and there are some goofy holes because of it like the openers that climb straight up the mountain. Routing this course wasn’t easy, but there’s enough fun downhill holes to make it worth playing. And practically every other so-called “mountain course” in Whistler is relatively flat with big vistas of mountains. Chateau Whistler plays into the mountains and some of the big downhill tee shots are breathtaking.
  2. Whistler Golf Club— The oldest course in Whistler, this Arnold Palmer design distinguishes itself by actually allowing walking (at least it did when
    Whistler Golf Club: Designer Ed Seay did a nice job of this Whistler classic.

    Whistler Golf Club: Designer Ed Seay did a nice job of this Whistler classic.

    I was there.) There aren’t a ton of so-called signature holes on the property, but this is an old school design that is fun and not tricked up, like many courses in resort settings. I’m kind of taken by the simplicity of the course.

  3. Nicklaus North–I wanted to love Nicklaus North and I’ve played it several times. It is always in good shape, and it is walkable, but the land is relatively uninspired and the condos that are tight to several holes don’t help the playability or aesthetics. However, the finishing holes–16 through 18–are set alongside a raging river and there’s a good argument to be made they are the best in Whistler.

    Water, water everywhere: Big Sky's holding ponds overwhelm the course after a while.

    Water, water everywhere: Big Sky’s holding ponds overwhelm the course after a while.

  4. Big Sky–I don’t get the affection for Bob Cupp’s flat, relatively dull Big Sky. It is always in good shape, I suppose, and plenty of shots use the mountains as backdrop, making the vistas impressive. However, the course itself is flat as a table and to create some drama, tons of holding ponds were created. It feels like Florida in British Columbia–and not in a good way.

Avoid: Furry Creek.

Like having needles tucked under your finger nails? Maybe your idea of a good time is to be kicked repeatedly. Either might be more fun than playing Furry Creek. And yes, the hole that’s on the water you can see from the highway looks exceptional. It isn’t.

 

Next up: Kelowna/Kamloops

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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