Victoria Day long weekend on Northwestern British Columbia golf courses

The view from the seventeenth tee at Prince Rupert Golf Club. If you’re up that way, check it out, and play Hirsch Creek in Kitimat, but go ahead and skip Skeena Valley in Terrace. —PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIES

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief  Ω

This past Victoria Day long weekend (May 18 to 21), I decided that since my friend who lives up north has come down to play golf with me both of the last two summers, I should reciprocate.

I wish I could have experienced a few more of the courses in the area, as there are surely some good experiences to be had up there, but alas, I could only afford — both financially and time-wise — to play three tracks on this trip.

Here are the results of that trip in case any of you are considering golfing in the north-western region of B.C.

Skeena Valley Golf and Country Club

Despite the claim on their website that you can enjoy “a picturesque scenery and a staff dedicated to your total enjoyment,” this experience was adequate and nothing more.

We arrived on the Friday afternoon (of a long weekend, as I mentioned) for our tee-time and were greeted very unenthusiastically by a kid lounging indifferently behind the counter of the pro shop chatting casually with his buddy who was sporting some MMA gear and pants that didn’t fit.

It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine that if you’re at a golf course you should know how to wear clothing and use your brain to chose appropriate attire. Show some respect for the sport, you know?

Anyway, I seem to be digressing already.

After paying our $90 or so for the two of us (twilight rate, thankfully), we were given the key to our cart, and found it parked outside caked in mud, filled with almost-empty beer cans, plastic bags and one Timbit in a box. We cleaned it out ourselves into the garbage and headed out to the first tee.

I guess the course was nice enough, but although it was Victoria Day weekend, they had yet to take a lawnmower to the rough this season I think, and because of this lack of maintenance any shot that trickled off the fairway had a good chance of forcing you to dig another ball out of your bag. It got expensive for a couple of mid-handicap golfers that afternoon.

There was almost no one out on the course, which should tell you something about the perceived value that people have for it better than I can in a review.

We gave it another shot on the Sunday, and they’d brought the lawnmowers out in between our excursions. Why you choose the Saturday of a long weekend to do the major maintenance generally required to open for the season I’ll never guess, but it made for a much nicer round.

They still treated us like more of a nuisance than welcomed guests however, and they will never receive my money for anything ever again.

Prince Rupert Golf Club

We took to the highway for about an hour and a half Saturday morning and were warmly welcomed by Moe Hays, the head pro at Prince Rupert and “Head Professional of the Year, 2003” according to the BCPGA — before we were even in the pro shop.

He’s a fantastic guy who loves the game and mingles with his guests as if at a family reunion. He personally went to the garage, picked a freshly washed cart out for us and drove it up to the pro shop while we each paid our $60 and we stretched for a few minutes while he gave us some tips on managing our way around the course.

It’s not a very long course, but it plays longer because — well, it’s Prince Rupert, and I don’t think things ever dry out there. Not a lot of rollout off the tee.

I expect that it would be a better round later in the season, as the grass was overly saturated that early in the year, but overall, it’s a treasure that you should definitely spend an afternoon on if you’re ever up that way.

The eighteenth is one of the best finishing holes I’ve played in a long time — despite the double-bogey I was forced to put down on the card.

Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club

Sunday morning we called Skeena Valley and found to our surprise that they were pretty fully booked for most of the day, but that we could get on mid-afternoon.

So off we headed to Kitimat while we waited, intending on playing nine holes at Hirsch Creek (we’d called a couple of weeks before and found that only the front nine was open).

When we arrived however, we found that they had recently opened the back nine, so we figured we’d happily do a full round instead — if we didn’t make it back to Terrace in time to play Skeena again, so be it.

Good decision, Davies.

I will admit I was a bit worried about the course’s condition when we looked down the first fairway and saw two large snow banks beside the first green, but although a bit wet those fears were unfounded.

A challenging course that forces you to think through your shot selection rather than just bombing it off the tee box and selecting a club from there, Hirsch Creek is a hidden gem.

We both shot better rounds than we have since we were teenagers, and we enjoyed every shot as we incorporated our cerebral skills into our shot making.

A light drizzle kept the humidity from wearing us out while not putting a damper on the experience.
In fact it added to it as well as keeping the mosquitoes at bay.

We even made friends with a curious fox who came out to watch us play the twelfth and thirteenth holes.

We named him Gary.

He was delightful.