Gamble Sands was built in 2014 by the Gebbers family, who have been growing fruit in the region since 1900. They wanted to diversify their community, and even though they aren't big golfers themselves, they saw the value that golf can bring to a community. Turns out, they had perfect land for a golf course -- pure sand bluffs overlooking the Columbia River Valley.
We sat down on the patio adjacent to the first tee for a post-round beer and I excitedly scurried to choose a few photos to post on social media. When it came to describing what I thought about Victoria Golf Club after our maiden voyage, I just went with my gut -- if Pebble Beach and Pasatiempo had a baby and shipped it up to Canada, it would be Victoria Golf Club. Bold, perhaps, but after having some more time to chew on it, I generally stand by my statement.
Having grown up playing golf in a small town, I have a huge soft spot for small town courses. It has instilled a permanent sense of appreciation for access and affordability, both of which were crucial in giving me the opportunity to fall in love with the game of golf. Sundre Golf Club, located in the small town of Sundre, Alberta, provides not only access and affordability, but a great golf experience to boot.
Western Canada is chalk full of beautiful golf courses. Regardless of what style of course you prefer, there's no denying the beauty and uniqueness of Canadian mountain golf, and Greywolf is no exception. Greywolf is perched up among the Purcell Mountains in British Columbia's stunning Columbia Valley, a 20-minute drive up the mountain from the town of Invermere. Designed by Canadian golf course architect, Doug Carrick, Greywolf opened for play in 1999. This was our second visit to a Carrick-designed course, the first being stunning Magna Golf Club.
When I think about the town of Canmore, the first things that usually come to mind are the hardcore outdoor activities such as back country skiing, mountain biking and rock climbing. However, our recent visit to Canmore Golf and Curling Club set me straight -- Canmore is also a very proud golf town. The Canmore G&CC was born in 1926 when local residents comprised primarily of coal miners and businessmen funded the building of the first 9 holes with sand greens, coffee cans for holes, and a membership fee of $5.
Perched up in the Santa Clara mountains in Santa Cruz, California, is a little 6500 yard Alister MacKenzie gem you may have heard about. The fact that MacKenzie lived out the last years of his life along the 6th hole and had his ashes spread over the course says a lot about this place and what it meant to him. On our latest trip to the Monterey Peninsula, we took the one-hour drive north to Santa Cruz to see what all the fuss is about.
The Valley Course at Bear Mountain Resort, located in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, is often referred to as the slightly tamer of the two Jack Nicklaus designed courses on property, but it is by no means tame. You are still treated to a thrilling and challenging mountain golf experience with elevation changes, beautiful views, tough greens, and a remote feel to each hole.
I continue to be humbled by all the amazing golf courses we've been able to play and write about over the years, and looking back on 2017, it was no exception. Our 2017 journeys took us to the California desert, Vancouver Island, the Monterey Peninsula, Ontario, and the Canadian Rockies. Needless to say, there was no shortage of tremendous courses to discover for the first time.
Unless we're talking about a fine red wine, not many things get better with age by sitting idol, particularly golf courses. It takes hard work, innovation and a willingness to not only maintain, but improve over time. This is why many courses actually get worse, whether it's from overgrowth, complacency, or even evolving public perception as to what a "good" course is. Poppy Hills Golf Course, located along famed 17-mile drive in Pebble Beach, California, was a course that made a commitment to be better.
It's not everyday you drive through the gates of a golf course and feel truly lucky to be there. Magna Golf Club, a private club located within the Greater Toronto Area in the town of Aurora, Ontario, turned out to be one of those places. Entering the gates of this exclusive club on an overcast Monday morning felt almost eerie -- the "too good to be true" type of eerie where you can't believe you practically have a place like this to yourself. With only 270 full playing members, opportunities to play Magna can be few and far between.