Recipient of a 2008 reader’s choice award from Peninsula News Review, Ardmore Golf Course has challenged club-brandishers with its nine holes since course designer E.S. Wise opened the grounds in 1926. Before teeing off against opponents, visitors rehearse their swinging skills at a practice putting green, driving net, and chipping area. Golfers in need of expert tutelage can turn to CPGA professional instructor Steve Middleton, who harnesses more than 30 years of golfing experience to help pupils find their natural swing and reunite with lost balls raised by wolves. In addition to tournament participants, Ardmore Golf Course accommodates overnight players in their golfer’s cottage, a furnished abode with a full kitchen, television, and wireless Internet. After each round guests can scarf down gourmet fare concocted by chef Graham Little, load up on golfing gear at the pro shop, admire the course’s 110-foot tall, 1,100 year-old douglas fir, or search the sky for wild birds and escaped golf clubs flying overhead.
In the verdant Cowichan Valley, Pacific Northwest Raptors cares for a diverse flock of birds of prey?owls twist their heart-shaped heads curiously, and hawks look on with eyes like copper coins. The staff provides them a safe habitat while educating the public about their habits, hunting methods, and favourite brands of feather cosmetics. Eagles and falcons ride warm zephyrs overhead daily, searching for prey high over the canopy when they aren?t perched back at the centre.
Avian experts demo the birds? skills during walks, which include the opportunity for patrons to have a hawk or owl land on a gloved hand or already impressive jaw line. Intensive workshops and week-long falconry courses let guests settle in with the animals beneath the towering trees, which hush each other liltingly in the wind. Regular family events at the centre facilitate bonding with the regal raptors, many of which are trained in film work and pest control.
As golfers line up tricky, round-deciding rolls on the green of the signature 17th hole at Olympic View Golf Club, they might have to block out an unusual sound. Just behind the green, water crashes earthward for more than 60 feet over one of the course’s two waterfalls. The dramatic feature generates a roaring din as well as a beautiful backdrop for players as they near the end of their scenic golfing excursions.
Such tranquil scenes are common on the 6,600-yard course framed by the dense forest of south Vancouver Island and the looming profiles of Olympic Mountains peaks. But the calm can be deceptive, as the Bill Robinson–designed layout aims to challenge. Twelve lakes are interspersed throughout the site, and numerous bunkers intimidate golfers with their depth and walls etched with tally marks. This signature mix of beauty and difficulty earned the club a four-star rating from Golf Digest in 2008, as well as a ranking of 10th Best Public Golf Course in British Columbia by Score Golf in 2011.
The GBC Golf Academy at Olympic View Golf Club aims to prepare golfers mentally and physically for playing the most enjoyable golf of their lives. Located on 14 acres, the academy features nine large grass driving areas with target greens as far as 330 yards. In three short-game areas, players practice putts, pitches, and fake surprise at finding the ball in the cup. The amply appointed grounds complement a teaching philosophy that encourages development of a repeatable swing tailored to the individual’s physical capabilities.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,600 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 72.7 from the back tees * Course slope of 133 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole
After a trek down the Panama Canal, visitors stop for a brief sojourn under the Matterhorn before journeying on to the Eiffel Tower. This trip around the world comes courtesy of All Fun Recreation Park's miniature-golf course, whose 18 globally themed greens are littered with water traps and austerely dressed customs officials. Elsewhere, eight cages hurtle baseballs and softballs toward batters at 40–75 mph, and drivers accelerate across a 1,400-foot go-kart track's over and under bridge or hug the turns of a smaller oval track designed for parents and youngsters.
For more racing action, patrons can head over to Western Speedway each Saturday night in May–September for stock-car competitions on an oval track or drag strip. Westshore Motocross rents entry-level dirt bikes to riding and racing novices, and 75 RV and tenting sites give guests opportunities to yodel freely in nature. Guests can then practice licking techniques on the flower-filled patio at Mr. Tubbs Ice Cream Parlour and Family Fun Zone, or explore the Swap & Shop each Sunday, where vendors dispense copious household goods and collectibles.
Situated on 190 lush acres along Thetis Lake, the Pacific Nine and Highland Nine courses encourage golfers to tackle them while drinking in views of the Olympic Mountains, Thetis Lake Park, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Cybergolf calls the Pacific Nine ?truly sublime,? and Canadian Golfer?which lauds the course as being on ?the must-play list??marvels at the tricky contours of its par-4 fifth hole. Although more compact than its sister, the Highland Nine is challenging on its own terms, with uphill approaches that end in fast greens, as well as a number of downhill par 3s. Making matters better, the course features GPS-equipped golf carts, PGA instruction, food and drink at the Range Cafe, and a 300-yard-deep driving range that boasts heated stalls.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par-71 course * Length of 6,603 yards * Six tee options * See the scorecard
The blue and white peaks of the Olympic Mountains overlook the greens at Metchosin Golf & Country Club, where westerly breezes from the Salish Sea stir the pompoms of golfers' hats. Fir trees and deciduous flora have grown up alongside the course's 2,760 yards for more than four decades. The nine-hole, par-34 layout consists mostly of par 4s. Sand traps hug the edges of the putting greens on holes 1, 3, 6, and 9, their coarse textures thwarting clubs and stupefying golfers with the geological miracle called sand.
Between Tuesday and Thursday, the course invites golfers to Nine and Dine during afternoons or evenings. The event pairs nine holes of golf with repast such as flat-iron steaks, pork back ribs, and vegetarian burgers.
Course at a Glance: * Nine-hole, par 34 course * Length of 2,760 yards from the farthest set of tees * Course rating of 67.7 from the farthest set of tees * Slope rating of 113 from the farthest set of tees * See the scorecard