Extreme Golf in British Columbia
Harold Segall, writer and humorist, once wrote for the New York Times: “Golf is not just an exercise; it’s an adventure, a romance… a Shakespeare play in which disaster and comedy are intertwined.”
Now we’re not sure if Harold Segall ever took a golf trip to British Columbia, but it certainly sounds like it! Because when it comes to adventure and romance, BC golf courses cannot be beat. We have mountain golfing with views – and drives – that go on, and on, and on. We have slope ratings that have to be played to be believed. We have courses carved out of desert rock. We have courses practically carved out of the ocean. What we have, in short, is what could be termed ‘Extreme Golf’. Read on for our favourite extreme golfing experiences in BC. Then get out there and try them – if you dare.
Extreme Slope: Bear Mountain – Mountain Course, Victoria, BC
Designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son Steve, these two golfing (evil) geniuses came up with what has been referred to by same as “an insane 152 slope rating” from the back Golden tees on Bear Mountain – Mountain Course. (Would you expect anything less from someone nicknamed the Golden Bear?) Insane or not, this does give the Bear “Mountain” Course the third highest slope rating in all of Canada, and the highest – by a long shot – in BC.
Undeniably extremely tough, Bear Mountain is also extremely loved by golfers of all levels for its spectacular views, hazards, lengths and more. As Colin Montgomerie, winner of last year’s PGA Tour Champions Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship, puts it: “I speak on behalf of all the players in saying that we were all enamoured with the place. We talk about that billion-dollar view from the 14th hole there, overlooking Canada, America and the city of Victoria — it was a marvellous place.”
Extreme Bonus: Bear Mountain is also home to an incredible network of mountain biking trails, including one called “The Chainsaw”.
Extreme Water Hazards: Furry Creek, Whistler, BC
The 14th hole at Furry Creek, dubbed “Tee to Sea”, juts out into the waters of Howe Sound and tops the list of British Columbia’s most photographic golf holes. It also tops the list of British Columbia’s most extreme water hazards. Many a ball has found a watery grave here, may they RIP.
At least all those lost balls have found a final resting place at what is arguably BC’s most scenic golf course. Designed by Robert Muir Graves and built in 1993, Furry Creek offers panoramic views, dramatic play and, for an extra shot of extreme fun on the golf course, the odd encounter with wild life.
Extreme Bonus: The après golf on the Sea to Sky and in Whistler itself offers all kinds of extreme thrills and extraordinarily good culinary exploits and nightlife. Be sure to take a trip on the newly installed Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, just minutes from Furry Creek. Adventures aplenty live here – sky high suspension bridge walks, viewing platforms and a gondola ride with stomach dropping views.
Extreme Tee Shot: Shadow Mountain, Cranbrook, BC
Shadow Mountain, hole 17: affectionately – and not so affectionately – dubbed THE MONSTER. Yep. The Monster. A golf hole dubbed The Monster. Extreme enough golfing for you?
An elevated tee shot, beautiful Rocky Mountain backdrop, and a long, long fairway all add up to one incredible hole. The 606 yard (from the Gold Tees) 17th at Cranbrook’s Shadow Mountain is simply a must do when talking about extreme golfing. A crushing drive will require accuracy to stay in play on the narrow fairway 100 feet below you. Take a deep breath, close your eyes for a moment, then open them up and take in the view… and go!
Didn’t quite go as planned on the 17th? Don’t worry, Shadow Mountain is a 19-hole golf course… you’ve got two more exhilarating holes to redeem yourself.
Extreme Bonus: The Canadian Rockies form the backdrop for what we like to call a round with a view. And by views, we mean views from every tee. And fairway. And green.
Extreme Landscaping: Tobiano, Kamloops, BC
If you like your golf with a shot of adrenaline, the 13th hole at Tobiano delivers drama of the highest order. You’re expected to deliver the ball safely across a vast canyon onto the tantalizing fairway that teases you from the great beyond.
Carved out of the desert, few settings in the world are better than where designer Thomas McBroom created Tobiano. As McBroom himself puts it: “Tobiano has to be the best site I’ve ever seen from a drama and a beauty point of view.” And the 13th isn’t the only hole daunting golfers with canyon hazards. Canyons run throughout, and McBroom’s ingenious incorporation of them into his design, really sets Tobiano apart. It also means that if you’re going to play Tobiano, you better pack extra balls… (Ahem.)
Extreme Bonus: Tobiano is also home to the Bruker Marina on Kamloops Lake where you can rent boats, seadoos and more for post golf adrenaline-fuelled fun.