The 19th hole is a tradition as old as the game of golf itself. Perhaps because every good round deserves a good round. Perhaps because every bad round deserves a commiserative round. Perhaps because nothing tastes better than a cold beer after 18 holes of exertion. Whatever the reason, the 19th hole is a tradition worth raising a glass to.
Here in BC, not only is the golf that precedes the raising of that glass quite extraordinary, the glass itself is filled with extraordinary brews, thanks to another long-standing tradition in this province: the brewing of truly great craft beer.
To make it even easier to find these great craft beers post-haste after your round of golf, we’ve paired all the best ale trails in BC – courtesy of The BC Ale Trail – with all of the best BC golf trails.
It’s time to tap into British Columbia’s amazing trail system – for both golf and beer!
There’s something special about mountain golfing. Spectacular views, dramatic elevation changes, surprise wildlife viewings and the opportunity to truly get away from it all and just breathe. Bonus: did you know your ball flies further at high altitude? It’s true: the golf ball flies further in the mountains mainly due to the change in air density, which decreases as elevation increases. Thinner air exerts less drag force on the ball. The ball moves more easily through the air and doesn’t slow down as quickly as it flies, resulting in greater distance. Which means you can club down, but brag bigger.
Golf the Kootenay Rockies – home to over 25 championship golf courses and your next best round.
“If enjoying a beer amid spectacular wilderness vistas is your idea of a good time” (and whose wouldn’t be?), then the East Kootenays is the place to be. National and Provincial parks, snow-covered slopes, hot springs, and beer. So much beer. “Spread throughout is a network of thirst-quenching craft breweries. Fernie Brewing is nestled in the Canadian Rockies. From there, travel to Cranbrook, home of Fisher Peak Brewing at the Heid-Out restaurant, and then continue on to Over Time Beer Works in Kimberley. The beautiful Columbia River Valley opens up in front of you as you drive north to Invermere, the base of Arrowhead Brewing.”
Beer: The Kootenay Rockies East – ‘Travel far in search of beer.’
The mountain-surrounded Olympic host village of Whistler, two hours north of Vancouver, is North America’s most renowned ski resort, however, it actually hosts more visitors in summer than winter – possibly because Whistler also has some of the best golf on the continent. Whistler is home to four award-winning golf courses designed by internationally-renowned architects Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Arnold Palmer and Robert Cupp, plus a few more along the Sea to Sky.
Golf Whistler and the Sea to Sky – from Squamish in the South, to Big Sky further North, the golf courses on this route are all spectacular.
Squamish and Whistler residents have plenty to celebrate in terms of craft beer thanks to a terrific selection of local breweries, brewpubs, and a world-class beer festival (hopefully returning in 2021!). Stop in Squamish for a true taste of the Sea to Sky brew scene at their trio of breweries – Howe Sound Brewing (the original), A-Frame Brewing (rustic West Coast culture at its best), and Backcountry Brewing (pizza and beer – yes please). Then head for Whistler where there is no end of local brews to celebrate any birdie achievements post-golf!
Golf: The Sea to Sky Golf Loop
Vancouver Island has been named in the top North American Islands by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine for the last 10 years, perhaps in part to the more than 40 golf courses, including designs by renowned architects Jack and Steve Nicklaus, Les Furber, Graham Cooke and Bill Robinson. The Island’s most concentrated play can be found along what is known as the Vancouver Island Golf Trail, where 13 championship courses are laid out along a 250-kilometre (155-mile) corridor between Victoria and Campbell River.
Golf Vancouver Island – or, as we like to call it, 250 kilometres of island golfing Paradise.
Victoria on Vancouver Island is not only the provincial capital but also the cradle of the craft beer revolution: home to Canada’s first-ever brewpub and some of BC’s most popular breweries (Canoe, Driftwood, Phillips, Vancouver Island and Lighthouse Brewing all spring to mind). Beer has been brewed in Victoria longer than anywhere else in British Columbia, dating back to 1858. As the BC Ale Trail puts it, “Visionary trailblazers nurtured craft beer here.” And now they are extending their vision deeper into the island, with a bustling brew scene in Nanaimo and the Comox Valley, with more to come in Cowichan, Parksville and Qualicum Beach. Indeed, you can’t swing a golf club on Vancouver Island without finding a craft beer to complement your club handling.
Lakes, orchards, views and vines… the Okanagan Valley is a vacation destination for anyone in their right mind. But for golfers, it’s absolute heaven. Warm summer days stretch lazily into long evenings, perfectly spent on the golf course. More than 65 lush vineyards (more than one winery for every five golf hole) surround 13 epic featured golf courses offering championship golf and views you have to see to believe. And now, with a brewing scene coming of age, Kelowna and the surrounding region are an absolute must-visit.
Golf Kelowna – the ultimate summer golf destination. Golf, dip, sip and repeat.
Kelowna – and the Okanagan – have long been known as wine country. That’s all about to change. Because Kelowna’s brew scene is coming of age. Truth be told, Kelowna has a long history as a stalwart of the craft beer crowd, with veterans like Tree Brewing and Freddy’s Brewpub celebrating 20 and 16 years in the business respectively. But now they are starting to get the recognition they deserve! As BC Ale Trail explains: “Over the past few years a growing movement celebrating small and local initiatives has breathed new life into the city. The beer scene in Kelowna has exploded recently, with BNA Brewing Co. (2015), Kettle River Brewing Co. (2016) and Boundary Brewing Company (2017) opening in successive years. Hot on their heels are Red Bird Brewing and West Kelowna’s first brewery, Kind Brewing, both opening sometime later in 2017.” Watch this space for Kelowna’s first official Ale Trail.
Golf: The Kelowna Golf Week
The “Triang-ale” Trail
A trifecta of fantastic golf and craft brew awaits the lucky traveller embarking on the “Triang-ale” Trail – encompassing Vernon, Kamloops, and the sunny Shuswap regions. Head out on a road trip to explore some of Canada’s Top Golf Courses with two in Vernon (Predator Ridge – Ridge Course and Predator Course) plus Tobiano in Kamloops. Then head to the Shuswap for endless lakes, lush green forests, and lakeside golf at incredible golf courses including Hyde Mountain at Mara Lake, where you can end your day on the patio, watching the houseboats putt by as you relax and enjoy.
Hitting all three sides of this golf and ale trail might present just the challenge golfers are looking for – beginning in Vernon at Marten Brewpub, heading to Kamloops to several brew options, and then stop in Salmon Arm while passing through the Shuswap for a final flight to wet your whistle. From there you can head back towards Vernon (and home), or keep going and explore other trails nearby!
BC Bucket List
British Columbia is blessed with some of the most stunning scenery in the world. The Elite British Columbia Golf Bucket List takes you on a tour through half of it! Cities, mountains, wineries, oceans and unbelievable golf. This trip is two weeks of golfing heaven at nine of BC’s best golf courses, plus additional activities that will showcase what Beautiful British Columbia is all about. You will go from Vancouver to the Okanagan, to Kamloops, to Whistler, to Victoria on Vancouver Island. And you’ll never forget it.
The beer stops along the way are multiple and marvellous. From the cradle of the craft beer revolution in Victoria on Vancouver Island to brew-favourites in Whistler, to the Vancouver playground on the North Shore, to the up-and-coming Kelowna craft beer scene, make sure you add an extra day or two on to your BC Golf Bucket List trip for true brew appreciation!
Updated from 2017.