Location: Campbell River, British Columbia
Architect: Graham Cooke
Tee — Yardage | Rating / Slope:
Black — 6,141 | 69.6 / 122
Blue — 5,675 | 67.1 / 119
White — 5,298 | 65.5 / 112
Yellow — 4,849 | 63.2 / 106
Red — 4,399 | 61.6 / 101
Blue — 5,675 | 72.4 /123
White — 5,298 | 70.2 / 119
Yellow — 4,849 | 67.4 / 113
Red — 4,399 | 64.5 / 110
Saturday morning green fee: $$ [$50-$99 Cdn]
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: Yes
Fairways: Perennial Rye
Starter: Golf at Campbell River started out, well, a little different. It began as a five-hole (yes, five) course in the late 1950s where a local rule stated: “On #1, over the fence on the left-hand side, throw the ball back onto the fairway and count one stroke.” After a few years, there were nine holes and eventually 18, all of which were effectively blown up when new owners with deep pockets took over in 2017 and hired Graham Cooke to totally redesign the layout. And now the experience may be even more different than before. And in a good way, a really good way.
Play because ...: Man, it’s fun — thus our Fun Meter rating. The new course is still in its infancy, but can be played 12 months of the year thanks to Vancouver Island’s temperate climate. As usual, Cooke did a nice job of creating a user-friendly walkable layout that can be toured in well under 4 hours, leaving lots of time for world-class fishing — this region is called the “Salmon Capital of the World” — hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and other outdoor activities. Hotel occupancy rates in the summer reach 98 percent, so there’s lots of competition for the tourist buck in and around this city, which has a population of about 35,000 and is located a scenic 3-hour drive from the British Columbia capital of Victoria.
But Campbell River G&CC takes a back seat to no one with its Velocity Lounge and Driving Range, one of only two facilities in Canada featuring Toptracer. This state-of-the-art facility combines golf, entertainment and a bar ... on a golf course. Nirvana, we say. And the food? How about a 3-foot-long hot dog, tacos of all sorts including pork cheek, harissa fried chicken and cauliflower wings? Wash it all down
with a Rickie Fowler Amaretto Sour, a smoked margarita or a local craft beer like Beachfire High Tide Pale Ale. Like I said, different.
Takeaway: A truly unique golf experience on one of the world’s great islands. The total re-do of the golf course and the creation of the Velocity Lounge and Driving Range are just the first steps by the new owners to develop this property into a four-star resort with hotel, convention center, spa and every other conceivable amenity. No expense is being spared. As a result, the existing structures such as the pro shop and clubhouse will be razed to make way for an even more memorable destination. But in the meantime, there’s lots to see and do here. Well worth the trip.
THE RATINGS [1 to 10 scale; 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 8.0
Pro shop: N/A (see above)
Clubhouse: N/A (see above)
Course difficulty: 6.0
Pace of play: 8.0
Best par 3: No. 6 [148 | 135 | 120 | 100 | 88 yards]
Make sure to choose the proper club here. This green requires a shot to the correct green level to leave an easy two-putt. Short is the safe play, anything long will make for a tough par. Enjoy the view looking back while walking up the hill to No. 7.
Best par 4: No.11 [360 | 337 | 307 | 295 | 260 yards]
The big decision here is what to hit off the tee. Play safe and short of the crossing hazard, which will leave a longer shot into the green or be aggressive by taking it over the hazard and have a short wedge shot and great chance at a birdie. The trees and fairway bunker will penalize aggressive errant tee shots to the right.
Best par 5: No. 15 [505 | 490 | 470 | 455 | 425 yards]
The second of back-to-back par 5s is one of the most beautiful holes on the course. Play a drive down the middle and take advantage of the large layup area to the left of the pond to leave a mid-range approach shot. The green is well surrounded by bunkers and water short and out of bounds only steps behind.