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.
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:
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:
Named 1 of the Top 100 Golf Practice Centers And Learning Facilities In America by Golf Range Magazine in 2011, Eaglequest Coyote Creek Golf Course pairs its renowned practice facility with a par 65 course to foster improvement in players of all abilities. The 18-hole, 4,165-yard course facilitates fast rounds of golf with 7 par 3 and 11 par 4 holes, and 4 holes more than 300 yards in length, prompting players to use every club in their bags. Lines of trees stud the edges of nearly every fairway, a creek winds through the course’s gently undulating terrain to alter shots, and a tennis player with a racquet plays defense on the final hole.
Before golfers head to the first tee, they can loosen up their swings by launching high-calibre practice balls at Eaglequest's synthetic driving range. To further groom their games, clubbers can schedule lessons with one of the course's CPGA instructors, who remedy slice-prone swings, shaky short-game shots, and 9-irons stricken with the common cold.
Nestled in the bucolic scenery of coastal Washington, Whidbey Golf and Country Club’s par 72 course stretches across 6,467 yards of water-kissed terrain. The round begins with a challenge, as the first tee gives way to the longest and most difficult hole, a 516-yard par 5 where drives must touch down on a narrow landing strip flanked by bunkers or circle in the atmosphere until they get signal clearance. Multiple ponds come into play throughout the round, upping the ante on certain shots with high-risk, high-reward scenarios. Before embarking on their pin-hunting expedition, duffers can trace power draws into the sky or take aim at invading weather balloons at the driving range.
Those hoping to more thoroughly scout their verdant foe can pore over the website’s hole-by-hole description. A one-hour drive or ferry trip north of Seattle, the course is playable year-round, with closures only for Christmas, New Year’s, and Chi Chi Rodriguez Day.
Course at a Glance:
Nestled amid the vibrant scenery of Cowichan's wine country, Arbutus Ridge Golf Club's 18-hole, par 71 course weaves through 6,193 yards of fairways and greens kissed by breezes moving inland off the waters of the Saanich Inlet. Named one of Canada's Ten Best Golf Courses for Value by Westjet's Up! magazine in 2009, the course's front nine weaves alongside the seaside community of Cobble Hill before ascending a ridge to a plateau on the back nine, where players can soak in sweeping views of Salt Spring Island and name new constellations in the divots peppered across the course below. Though players encounter many par 4s and reachable par 5s, Arbutus Ridge concludes with three treacherous holes, including the 214-yard, par 3 17th hole, where golfers must overcome swirling winds to land tee shots on an island green. Golfers can prepare for rounds with a stint at the club's driving range or by scouting sand traps' self-defence mechanisms while watching the club's online course videos.
Arbutus Ridge cares about the condition of its course and the nature that surrounds it, and because of its efforts toward sustainable practices, the course has been certified by Audubon International. After rounds, course patrons can retire to the Satellite Bar & Grille, which overlooks the Satellite Channel and serves a seasonal menu of West Coast–influenced French bistro fare, with offerings that include halibut, salmon, and tenderloin steak, which pairs well with a glass of Jean Van de Velde's tears.
Course at a Glance:
A nine-hole, executive course consisting of five par-fours and four par-threes, Royal Oak Golf Club provides tee-to-green fun for clubbers of all stripes with an approachable 1,915-yard layout. The course presents two relatively short par-fours on which long hitters can attempt to reach the green in one with a perfect drive or a well-struck golf ball punt. Those who try to overpower the course must steer clear of its water hazards, which come into play on five holes. To prepare for their round, guests can schedule a lesson with Royal Oaks' CPGA pro Bill Wakeham.
After rounds, Royal Oaks' hilltop clubhouse enchants weary golfers with a lounge equipped with two big-screen HDTVs, dartboards, and free WiFi. The Club's outdoor patio overlooks the first and seventh tees, allowing golfers to enjoy a cold beverage or scold an underperforming nine-iron.