Golf Surges to the Fore
By Darryl Palmer / Images By Joern Rohde
The world’s gone crazy — well, golf crazy, that is. We’ve all felt it at some point this past year… a yearning to get outside, to be with friends, to socialize. With the restrictions we’ve faced as a society, the search for “safe activities” almost became a pastime of its own. As a result, many of us discovered or rediscovered the game of golf. Courses everywhere, including those in the Sea to Sky Corridor, are as busy as they have ever been, despite the pandemic. But it didn’t start that way. Last spring, golf courses weren’t sure that they would even open, and when they eventually did, they were careful to go slow and figure out the proper protocols to keep both their staff and their guests safe. And then the season exploded.
Arnold Palmer once said, “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.” He was not wrong. Part of golf’s charm is that it can be challenging for beginners and advanced players alike. And, no one at any level likes to suck. Jason Lowe, general manager at Nicklaus North Golf Course, chimes in, “You can’t expect people to pay money to be frustrated.”
With that in mind, the courses in the Whistler area have done a great job of developing and offering a variety of teaching programs designed to appeal to almost every level of golfer. As a player myself, I believe that the better the skill set, the more enjoyment we can have from the game. So, let’s look at some of the unique offerings from the area’s courses and teaching facilities.
Lowe points out the importance of investing in teaching. “At Nicklaus North Golf Course, we firmly believe in putting resources into our instructors, strategic instruction programs, technology, and facilities.” One of the newer additions at Nicklaus North is The Cabin, a year-round indoor teaching facility with two large bays packed with the latest teaching technology. Guests can work on their swing with one of their certified teaching pros or, in the winter months, rent out the facility in the evening for simulator play and tee it up at some of the world’s most famous courses like Pebble Beach and St. Andrews Links.
Big Sky Golf Club in Pemberton has always emphasized golf as an activity that the whole family can enjoy together, and now maybe more than ever. They are fortunate to have a Par 3 academy course in addition to their championship 18-hole course as part of their facility. “The Big Sky Golf Academy course is a great starting point for those families who are new to the game as well as young junior golfers,” offers Corry Butler, director of golf and head professional at Big Sky, and a PGA of Canada member. This season they have introduced a family pass for the academy course to complement the existing junior camps throughout the summer.
To help accentuate the point that the golf industry has gone ballistic, consider this: This year, all men’s and women’s clinics at the Whistler Golf Club sold out before the course even opened. However, at press time there was still limited availability in their popular Nike Junior Clinic programs for keen first-timers or competitive kids aged eight to 16.
If it’s a quick fix you’re looking for, The Range, as it’s known, conveniently situated adjacent to the heart of Whistler Village, offers lessons for as little as $30. It’s a great way to work the kinks out before your next round of golf in Whistler.
Our last stop is the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club, Whistler’s only actual mountain course. They have an excellent, elevated teaching facility above the Village with outstanding views up and down the valley. Playing here is magical! One of the many appealing programs the club offers throughout the season is their popular “Nine and Wine” nights targeted at ladies who want to enjoy the game in a low-stress environment and engage in the social aspect. Think “birdies and burgundy,” gals! They also offer a golf, wine and dine package for couples looking for a fun, safe night out.
These programs and teaching facilities are designed to do one thing: help you get more out of a game that ultimately can be and is a life-long endeavour. Improving your skills in a safe, socially distanced environment now will help you enjoy the game for years to come.
According to golfandhealth.org, a research project supported by the World Golf Foundation, along with that enjoyment comes a wide variety of physical and mental health benefits. “Simply put, golfers live longer, have better overall physical health, and gain wellness/mental health benefits. These associations are likely due to the golden combination of walking, muscular activity, and social interaction (amongst other factors). So, whether you’re young or old, a scratch golfer, or have never picked up a club before, there are now even more reasons to head to your nearest course.”
The world may have gone golf-crazy, but it has not gone golf mad. The game is as popular as it has ever been, and for good reason. It’s fun, and it allows us to enjoy the outdoors and be with our family and friends in a safe fashion. We all need that in our lives these days!
Plan and book ahead this season to avoid disappointment and take advantage of the unique teaching programs in our area. And most of all, have fun with the game and be safe.