Thursday, August 16, 2018

Whistler developing a reputation as a golf destination

WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — The village of Whistler in Canada's British Columbia has a long-standing reputation as a world-class ski destination. With two massive mountains, pristine powder and a wide variety of terrain, it's no wonder.

Through the years, Whistler also became renowned for its summer activities, from fishing and hiking to zip lining and mountain biking.

Here's one you may not know: Whistler is a must-play golf destination.

With four scenic championship courses designed by top-name designers and set among the towering mountains, Whistler is a bucket-list stop for any avid golfer.

"Today, we're just as busy during the summer as we are in winter," said Norman Mastalir, managing director of Fairmont Chateau Whistler. "There are so many outdoor activities to do here and golf is a big part of that."

A majestic two-hour drive northeast of Vancouver, Whistler is set in a valley at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. The main chalet-style pedestrian village has a laid-back mountain-town vibe, filled with cool shops, restaurants and remnants of venues from the 2010 Winter Olympics. Whistler Mountain Bike Park, accessed by ski lifts, ends its 4,900-foot (1,500-meter) descent right into the main part of the village.

The golf courses are nothing short of spectacular.

Nicklaus North Golf Course winds along the valley floor just outside the village and along the shores of emerald-blue Green Lake. One of a handful of courses bearing Jack Nicklaus' name, it is annually considered one of Canada's best. The back patio also is a great place to stop after the round, backing up to the terminal where the float planes land and take off.

Whistler Golf Club was Arnold Palmer's first Canadian design and it's easy to see why The King would pick this site. Surrounded by mountains, the course has spectacular views as it meanders through strands of ancient cedars, nine lakes and two winding creeks.

Big Sky Golf Club, about 20 minutes north of Whistler in Pemberton, was designed by Robert Cupp at the base of snow-capped Mount Currie. The links-like design built on rolling natural terrain is the longest among the Whistler-area courses (just over 7,000 yards or 6,400 meters) and features seven lakes with a creek winding through.

Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and is carved among the pine trees along the side of Blackcomb Mountain. The course features an elevation change of more than 400 feet (120 meters), majestic views of the Whistler valley and natural features like waterfalls and exposed rock faces. It also might be the best course to see one of the numerous bears that live in the valley.

"It's a 12-month destination," said Nick Droulis, director of golf at Fairmont Chateau Whistler. "It's unrivaled for summer activities and the length of day makes it a great. We also lucky enough to have four championship courses in the area."

All four courses are superbly maintained and have a variety of tee boxes to accommodate all levels of golfers.

The golf season in Whistler runs from early May and to Canadian Thanksgiving the second week of October. During the summer months, it's still light until 9 or 10 p.m., so there's plenty of opportunity to play more than one course and more than 18 holes.

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If You Go...

GETTING THERE: Fly in to Vancouver International Airport and catch a seaplane to Whistler. It's only a two-hour drive, but taking off from Vancouver Harbour and landing on Green Lake in Whistler are an experience you'll never forget.

WHERE TO STAY: Fairmont Chateau Whistler. The five-star hotel is beautiful place to stay and is walking distance to the village. It also has world-class dining options and stay-and-play golf packages starting at $242 Canadian (about $185 U.S.) per night.

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ONLINE: www.golfwhistler.com

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