Most of us are members of a golf club or have a course where we play most of our golf. The opportunity to play another course is always a treat to be savored and to do it with a group of friends is the optimum in fun. To do that at a number of courses on a golf holiday is as good as it can get.
Every spring, our regular golf group, twelve in number, take a 3 day golf trip. On this last occasion, we took an early morning ferry (2 hours) from Vancouver to Victoria on Vancouver Island. This enabled us to arrive at our first golf destination, Gorge Vale Golf Club by about noon. A quick bit of lunch and we are ready for our first challenge. The Gorge, as it is known is a semi private course which because of its degree of difficulty has always attracted its share of good players. Although it has been updated in recent years, it is a traditional golf course. This allows the considerable natural elevation changes to determine decisions both off the tee and into greens. The property sits in the middle of the city but only briefly on two holes can you even see something other than the beautiful golf course you are enjoying. Four sets of tees range from about 5800 to 7000 yards. Always in acceptably good condition, this course says bring your “A” game, you will need it. The atmosphere at the Gorge, both on the course and in the clubhouse says you are among dedicated golfers. An oddity of the course is that on Sunday mornings for about two hours, the Par 4 12th hole is shortened to a long Par 3. There is a beautiful little military cemetery adjacent to the hole and the adjustment allows access across the fairway to the chapel for a morning service.
After settling the dust with a drink we make our way to our accommodation, The Victoria Regent Hotel on the harbor. This hotel is built for golf foursomes. Each suite has two bedrooms and each bedroom has two Queen Beds. A large living area and a deck overlooking the beautiful harbor provide ample space to tell of great shots and putts that should have dropped. Over cocktails, a good steak house is selected and we all walk two blocks to dinner. If you have never been in Victoria, the streets are beautiful to walk along. There are vintage lamp stands adorned with hanging baskets and there are beautiful gardens everywhere. With a good steak and some good wine, the good shots are enhanced and the bad shots forgotten so that by bedtime we are already getting ready for the next day’s adventure.
After a good breakfast, we set out for our late morning tee times at our second course “Olympic View”. This course is located about 15 minutes North West of downtown and as the name suggests presents spectacular views of the mountains on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. A resort type course, it was built about 20 years ago to cater to the higher end green fee player. An excellent range and full practice area gives you no excuse for not being ready for the challenge ahead. If not compulsory, a golf cart is strongly recommended unless mountain climbing is what you came for. Severe elevation changes, bowled fairways producing many side hill lies, both up and down, as well as many blind shots present all the challenges that our group can handle. A good range of tees enable you to play as much golf course as you wish. Even when the going gets rough, the beautiful surroundings remind us that this is better than anything else we can imagine.
As at the Gorge, we have a drink to smooth out the round. Then it’s back to the Regent, brag a little and then we settle on Italian for dinner. Some good pasta accompanied with a little Chianti completes another great day.
The next morning after breakfast and packing we’re off to our final day. Royal Colwood Golf Club, an old traditional jewel of golf in Victoria is the day’s destination. On a personal note, if it was decreed that I had to spend the rest of my life playing one golf course, this would be it. It is one of only four courses in Canada that have received the “Royal” designation from a King or Queen of England. It is a beautiful old member’s course, not obviously difficult but deceptively challenging. The awesome beauty is defined by enormous fir trees which frame almost every hole. You can easily be seduced into thinking you are in a natural cathedral where the quality of your golf game becomes insignificant. We play it at about 6200 yards and that provides plenty of competition.
From there, it’s off to catch the 5 o’clock ferry which enables us to have a wind up dinner at our home course on the mainland. With the final round of bragging and side bets all settled another great golf trip comes to an end. One thing is constant on these trips, the caliber of the golf varies but the quality of the comradeship is always major league.