Golfing during the Winter Olympics

There is nothing quite as wonderful as your first golf game of the season, no matter how you play. But, when it happens in the middle of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, it’s that much sweeter.

My golfguy and I always start our golf season at the Northview Golf and Country Club in Surrey, for many reasons:

Course conditions

The fairways at Northview are amazingly dry even in winter.  In fact, it’s not “cart path only” in the winter; it’s “fairways only” – they are that dry.

The 2 courses are really well maintained all season long – better than any public course in the city and I would suggest at par or better than at most private clubs. In the summer, it’s like playing on a championship course.


There are two Palmer courses from which to choose:

1. The Ridge Course, which was where the Air Canada PGA Championship was played for many years (Mike Weir won it in 1999) and offers serious challenges for any level.

2. And the Canal Course which is a bit easier than the Ridge, wider fairways and fewer trees, but lots of water. Both have wonderful vista views of the mountains.

A great walk unspoiled

I love walking a golf course almost as much as playing it. Not only is it good exercise, but you can see so much more of the contours of the green as you walk up to it, which I believe really helps me putt better.

Both Northview courses are easily walked, although I huff and puff a bit less on the Canal.

Mother Nature’s paradise

I’ve actually seen 5 bald eagles in the air at one time on the Canal course. This weekend I saw one eagle up a tree, two blue herons and tons of ducks just minding their own business in the acres of water that run throughoiut the course (it’s not called Canal for nothing).

At some courses, the geese make a real mess, but at Northview, the fairways and greens are immaculate.  I have no idea how they potty train their geese.

Tee times

I can almost always get a tee time at Northview. It’s a bit out of the way for city-dwellers (40 min from downtown), but well worth the drive.


Given the quality of facilities and golf courses, I would expect to pay much more than what they charge at Northview. Winter weekend rates for Ridge/Canal ($60/$50); summer rates ($80/$70). Weekdays are even cheaper. They also have a great twilight rate on Mondays which includes dinner.

Performance Centre

Northview has a large heated driving range, good quality mats (In the summer they let you hit of the grass which I love.), chipping area, massive putting green and even a bunker practice area. They offer a number of programs at their Golf Academy for all ages and skill levels. They even have an “After 5 Women’s Golf School” which is very affordable and gives new women golfers cradle-to-grave instruction – perfect for women who want to learn the game and meet new friends.

Duffey’s Sports Grill

A great way to end a round.  Good beer, wine, food and spectacular view of the 18th hole on the Ridge.

I mentioned last summer to our server that I was disappointed that they didn’t offer Malbec by the glass.  Well, now this year they do. I like to think I had somethiing to do with that 😉


First let’s talk about the really important stuff – washrooms! No outhouses on these courses – the washrooms are all tiled, very clean and heated! Now if we could just teach the men who use the ladies facilities to lower the seat, that would make this course even more women-friendly than it is. 😉

At just over 5300 yards, the length is more than fair for women golfers and there are no forced carries off the tees.

Yes, Northview has a lot going for it, which is why I like to start my season there.  Let me share with you a few of my favorite Canal holes (Par/white/red).

Hole #8 (5/500/440)

By far, my favorite hole on the entire course! It’s the perfect risk/reward hole. I start thinking about it around the 5th hole, picturing my 3rd shot to the green flying over the lake.

I used to take out a water ball, but that really takes all the fun out of it. Now, I use my favorite golf ball and I go for it! You win a few – you lose a few. But you never forget this hole!

Hole #14 (3/149/127)

This deceptively easy-looking par 3 has some bite to it. 95% of the time everyone comes up short.

Often the pin is in a nasty position behind the bunker and many balls end up in the sand. My advice…take extra club – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone hit their tee shot over this green.

Hole #16 (4/254/214)

This is one of those holes that I love to sit back and watch others play. A drivable par 4, big hitters are always tempted try it at least once,  but water all down the left and a small green that slopesright to left makes it a very hard shot.

No one “went for it” this weekend, but we sure talked a lot about the ones before us who tried. One of our playing partners had a great story about a guy who didn’t mean to drive the green, but his ball landed in front of the green and then rolled up in between the legs of a guy putting his ball. Haha! I would have loved to have seen that.

Hole #17 (3/139/103)

How can such a short par 3 be the #2 handicap hole on the course? Easy…shallow green, water, water, water (on 3 sides) and sand. It looks so easy, but looks can definitely be deceiving.

Many a player gets wet on this hole, but few will take the drop zone – they just keep hitting off the tee until they hit the green. It’s a “guy thing” I think 🙂

Hole #18 (5/467/426)

The 18th hole is an easy par 5 and I’ve seen quite a few of the big boys hit it in 2.   I like it because I can often birdie or par this hole if I get off the tee well. Definitely a “come back tomorrow” hole.  But that’s not the hole I’m going to show you.  Instead, I have to share with you the 18th hole on the Ridge Course at Northview.  It is a fabulous closing hole, with a huge risk/reward opportunity on your approach to the green and a beautiful view of the clubhouse.

Yes, Northview Canal and Ridge courses are probably two of the best public courses in the Vancouver Region. If you ever get a chance to play them, jump at it. The Canal is great if you like wind and water. The Ridge is great if you like tight fairways and a longer trek. So, no matter which one you pick, you’ve got a fun day ahead of you.

Oh….and if you ever need a playing partner to give you some local knowledge, you know how to reach me.


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  1. I hope they are paying you for this incredible review.

    It sounds great in all seasons. I always play a few strokes higher on other courses (rather than mine) and use that excuse to stay at my club too often.

    I need to find a ‘go to’ course that doesn’t whip my butt and gets me out of my routine.

    It sounds like you already have…

  2. Hi Vince! No, not a penny paid for this and I paid my own green fees too.

    If you are ever in the neighbourhood, I’d be happy to give you the local hints to keep those extra shots off your card 🙂


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