I’ve encountered a lot of “trails” in my travels, but have to admit, embarking on a golf trail was a new one for me. I love the game, and consider myself a golfer who tends to frequent local nine-hole courses over golf destination getaways. Girls’ golf getaways – do women really do that? And I’ll admit, as my visit to the Island approached, preparing for three rounds of golf in three days (plus lessons) was a little intimidating – That’s a lot of golf!
The moment I touched down at the Victoria Airport the familiar, friendly and easy-going pace of “Island Time” enveloped me. Heading towards the city, ocean views and quiet farms took over the landscape.
I typically travel to the Comox Valley or Tofino on my Island visits, so it felt great to head south again and get reacquainted with the Victoria area – one of the most beautiful places in Canada (if not the world)!
Keen to get my golf game to the next level, I headed directly to Olympic View Golf Course, located just west of Victoria. Director of Instruction of the the GBC Golf Academy, Jeff Palmer, greeted me with a friendly demeanour that matched the island, and we started working on my short game.
Over two days, working from the shorter clubs to the longer clubs, Jeff provided countless tips, tricks, drills and encouragement to take my game to the next level. Jeff’ helped me find the “zen” to my golf game – easy swings, good routine, consistency, practice and being in the moment. It felt good.
However, not the entire lesson was always zen-like. At one point, (much to the surprise of innocent bystanders on the driving range) Jeff had me throw a club on the follow through of my swing (he graciously supplied me with one of his clubs, so that I didn’t have to fling my own). The drill was simple – take a swing and then release the club on the follow through – Just “let it go”. He showed me once, the club graciously spinning through the air, directly towards our target. “Easy enough,” I thought.
. My first attempt sent the club spinning wildly high in the air, landing on a grassy knoll about 50 feet behind us. After equally embarrassing attempts with aggressive club landings onto the top of the instruction tent awnings (twice) I finally got it right, much to the relief of nearby players. The drill served to take a softer swing and release my death grip on the club. Ahhh, zen.
Olympic View’s course is beautiful, with varied landscapes, wildlife and amazing waterfall features. It was challenging, but certainly not beyond the skills of any golfer. I was able to put Jeff’s tips to use that same day – he’s a miracle worker!
Later, heading to Victoria’s inner harbour and checking in to the Hotel Grand Pacific, I was reminded of how alive Victoria is during the summer months. Despite a long day, I dropped my bags and jumped on one of the Grand Pacific’s cruiser bikes for a spin around the harbour area. With blue skies on blue water, every corner provided a glimpse of another great Victoria vista.
After another round of lessons and golf at Olympic View, I put my new “zen” golf approach to the test at Arbutus Ridge Golf Club, located just north of Victoria (near Mill Bay), offering stunning views of Mount Baker and the ocean
Thanks to my lessons, I felt much more confident in my game, yes, even zen-like. I was proud to have not lost my ball for the entire round, until I made a tee shot sacrifice into the picturesque yet heavily wooded-area to the right of the fairway on the 18th hole. Course Manager Jason Lowe and I agreed that a sacrifice to the golf gods is a good thing, and that I’ll just have to return to seek my revenge on hole 18.
The Vancouver Island Golf Trail awakened the possibilities for any number of golf trips – Girls’ Weekends (adding on cider or winery tours, Victoria dining, spas and more) or a road trip to visit some of the most picturesque settings on Vancouver Island.
Now that I’ve discovered the Vancouver Island Golf Trail, packing my golf clubs will become as indispensable as a toothbrush on future visits to the Island. Oh, and a couple extra golf balls…and clubs. Just in case they go flying.
Visit www.golfvancouverisland.ca to build your own adventure on the Trail.