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convenient —and sometimes challeng-
ing — supplement for summer guests.
But it was never mentioned among the
“true” golf resorts. Fortunately, Palmer,
Jack Nicklaus, and Robert Trent Jones
Jr. saw this British Columbia valley
differently. To them it was a canvas
upon which to draw some of golf’s
finest designs.
Though I’ve enjoyed the occasion
to play several of North America’s
best courses, from Jupiter, Florida, to
Bandon, Oregon, I find nothing com-
pares to alpine golf and its combination
of diverse landscape and the occasional
black bear or, more worrisome, rutting
elk “moveable impediments.” I can only
imagine what Mr. Palmer thought
when, as he was laying out his 6,722-
yard tract, he was compelled to craft
the dogleg-left fairway on the 13th,
called Bear Island, not as a salute to his
longtime golden rival, but due to the
adjacent
Ursus americanus
habitat.
Whistler Golf Club and Nicklaus
North both celebrate valley golf,
coursing along streambeds and through
ponderosa pine forest with little
elevation change. Jones Jr.’s Chateau
Whistler Golf Club, however, provides
some 400 feet of up and down, not to
mention some outright cruel rock walls
and punitive fir trees that are typically
associated with the mountain game.
Ask a local which of these “big
three” courses he or she prefers and
you’re likely to hear “Big Sky,” the
lesser-known fourth. Located about
25 minutes north in Pemberton, the
Robert Cupp–designed Big Sky Golf
and Country Club spreads out beneath
Mount Currie. It wends its way around
various ponds, as well as a stream that
shows up several times throughout
your round, including
four
times on the
signature, 600-yard par-5 fourth, aptly
titled Purgatory.
I’ve played each course several
times and, like selecting my tea, sev-
eral variables go into the final ranking
system. Big Sky produces fantastic
vistas for a morning round, followed
by lunch on the veranda. Nicklaus
North offers remarkable signature
holes, especially the aforementioned
17th, a peninsular putting surface that
juts into Green Lake. Whistler Golf
Club is an easy walk from the village
and deceptively challenging.
Lost balls aside, I pick Chateau
Whistler as the one don’t-miss course,
especially if you can schedule your
18 holes during the late afternoon’s
alpine glow, when the low, golden sun
stretches through red alders and huck-
leberry to illuminate as sublime a
natural environment as a golf course
can muster.
Kamikaze Fun
Perhaps you’d like to slip into the forest
for more of an adrenaline rush than a
golf ball can provide. If so, I suggest
strapping on some protective armor
and taking on Whistler Mountain Bike
Park, arguably the best lift-serviced
mountain biking in the world.
Fortunately, for those of us 25 and
older — you know, those of us who
understand that a modicum of caution
is useful in life — there are enough
easy and intermediate runs to allow us
to explore what everyone’s all cranked
up about. And I will admit, a few
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Bustling Granville Island is accessible by water taxi.
Vancouver was a remote dot on the North American
map. But then came the Vancouver World Expo ’86, when the rest of the world
realized there was more to Canada’s third-largest metro area than spellbinding
scenery. If Expo ’86 brought attention, the 2010 Winter Olympics inspired many
travelers to add a Vancouver visit to their bucket lists.
Seventy-five miles south of Whistler, Vancouver is the site of Stanley Park, one
of North America’s great public spaces. Just outside of the southern end of the
park, Robson Street is the city’s premier shopping corridor. And Gastown, once a
neighborhood nobody would recommend visiting, has transitioned into a vibrant
hub of nightlife, complete with trendsetting restaurants such as L’Abattoir and the
Salt Tasting Room.
Popular tourist attractions also are more than worth it here. Everybody loves
Granville Island, a collection of shops, cafes, and a public market across False Creek
that’s best accessed via a water taxi. Be sure to make your way to Grouse Mountain,
where the Skyride tramway reveals why, even if this city has much culture to offer,
the scenery remains the star attraction.
While You’re in the Neighborhood ...
Once upon a time,
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