By Anita Draycott | Jan 10, 2018
Things have changed quite a bit since the early days when what is now the center of Whistler Village was a garbage dump where the bears foraged. The bears are still here but those early days when skiers swigged beer out of their ski boots have changed considerably. Whistler, the top ski, snowboarding, and mountain biking resort in North America has now ascended to the heights of number one golf resort destination in Canada, according to Golf Digest.
“Whistler kicked up its already world-class reputation when it co-hosted (with Vancouver) the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”
There are various ways to get to Whistler but I recommend taking Harbour Air’s seaplane from Vancouver. The trip takes about half an hour and you’ll land on Green Lake just in front of the Nicklaus North Golf Clubhouse. Designed by the Golden Bear himself, Nicklaus North meanders alongside glacier-fed Green Lake. Nicklaus deliberately designed it to be fun, with roomy fairways and enormous greens. That said, there are over 50 bunkers and water on 15 holes to be avoided. The par-threes here are very strong, especially the signature 17th that plays alongside Green Lake. Although Nicklaus ‘s company has built almost 300 courses in 40 countries, only four are Nicklaus Signature tracts and one of those is Nicklaus North.
After your round, relax on what is arguably Whistler’s best patio overlooking Green Lake, the 16th fairway and the Harbour Air floatplane dock. Nicklaus North’s Table Nineteen Lakeside Eatery prides itself on having great prices on beer and wine and dishes that lures more than golfers to the contemporary cuisine.
Half an hour north of Whistler, designer Robert Cupp tucked Big Sky Golf and Country Club into the shadow of massive Mount Currie. Although this course plays in the valley below the peaks, the majesty and drama of the mountain is palpable.
For the ultimate bragging rights, Big Sky offers a heli-golf experience during which guests are flown by chopper to the top of Mt. Currie where they can warm up or cool down before or after their round by hitting biodegradable golf balls from the top of the glacier—giving new meaning to “hang time.”
Golf Digest ranked Big Sky in the top 30 courses in Canada in 2015/16. Each hole presents the player with a strategic risk/reward challenge that Cupp sums up as “hard par, easy bogey.” Easier said than done, especially on number four, aptly named Purgatory. At 600 yards from the tips, you must avoid a creek crossing the fairway four times, fescue on the right and trees on the left before hitting the well-bunkered green. “If you putt this one out using the same ball you started with, you’ll be better off than most,” says the affable starter.