Eagles, Birdies and Bears on Vancouver Island
Almost any connoisseur of the world’s great golf destinations is captivated by Canada’s East Coast, with its craggy Nova Scotia cliffs and its Muskoka summer cottages. Western Canada’s Rocky Mountains, too, have their ardent fans, those for whom the ski mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb seem to pierce the clouds then climb for miles.
Fewer are aware of Vancouver Island, the 285-mile-long island off Canada’s west coast. That’s where I head to escape the summer heat, to fish for salmon on the pristine waters of the Sooke River, and to catch the aspens and maples and oaks as they explode each October in firebush patches of red and gold.
While most visitors concentrate their time in the clean, pretty city of Victoria, sponging up its British roots and flavor, I head straight to the valleys and the coastal courses near the ocean, and to Bear Mountain, the site of my favorite pair of courses on the entire island.
Although Vancouver Island is moored on the edge of the Pacific and bares the brunt of pounding ocean storms, temperatures remain mostly moderate, modulated by a warm weather pattern called the “Pineapple Express” that begins in Japan and sweeps through Hawaii before shooting up to Vancouver Island. This part of British Columbia gets neither too steamy in the summer nor too snowy in the winter, ideal for year-round golf.