Whistler Golf Club was designed by Arnold Palmer. Play a round there and you might see a bear or beaver or coyote.
W HISTLER, B.C. — I knew right away this wasn’t going to be a typical round of golf.
“Watch for the mama bear and her cub,” said the guy taking my money at the pro shop. “They have been out on the second hole all morning.”
This is golf at world-famous Whistler, about a 90-minute drive north of Vancouver, B.C.
Whistler is much more than just a skiing destination. During the summer, the resort area is known for some of the world’s best mountain biking, great hiking trails, and some fantastic golf courses designed by the biggest names in the sport.
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We didn’t see the bears, but it was still a memorable round at the Whistler Golf Club that was designed by Arnold Palmer. It’s hard to imagine a more picturesque backdrop, with the mountains close at every angle and many interesting and great holes.
You could say the same thing about the other two courses in Whistler: Nicklaus North, designed by Jack Nicklaus, and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. (who also designed Chambers Bay, the University Place course that will host the 2015 U.S. Open).
Over the years, we had spent time walking and riding our bikes along Nicklaus North and the Whistler Golf Club. I know firsthand that happy hour on the patio overlooking the 18th green at Nicklaus North is a nice way to spend the late afternoon.
We were far less familiar with Whistler Golf Club, but we quickly fell in love with it. In addition to mountain views throughout, there are nine lakes and two streams. And while the course was challenging, it wasn’t so difficult that we didn’t have fun.
In addition to the bears, it’s not uncommon to see beavers and coyotes.
What also makes golf special are special deals available at golfwhistler.com. For $319 (Canadian) until May 31 and from Sept. 23 until closing, golfers from Washington and British Columbia can get a passport that allows them to play all three Whistler courses, as well as the acclaimed Big Sky course less than a half-hour north in Pemberton that was designed by Robert Cupp.
The price is $449 in the summer. If you want to play a course twice, you get a special rate of $69 in the low season and $99 in the high season.
Mike Zuccolin, general manager at Nicklaus North, said 35 percent of players who buy the passports are from Washington, and that the numbers have been increasing each year with the improving economy.
Also available are stay-and-play packages that start at $319 (Canadian). The prices are better before summer, and the courses and bears await.