VANCOUVER ISLAND, British Columbia - Vancouver Island is known for its lush forests and grand mountains. It's also home to the Pheasant Glen Golf Resort. A new course? Not quite. Formerly known as Glengarry Golf Links, the course has been through several major renovations over the past four years.
Under the guidance of owners Bill and Donna Dutton and the management team, it has been transformed from a 5,000-yard short course to 6,600-yard par 72 that offers four sets of tees, accommodating a whole range of playing skills.
"Market research has shown that a large segment of golfers, upwards of 70 percent of regular players, will never play a short course," General Manager Barrie McWha said.
Considered a challenging course for shot-making skills and strategy, Pheasant Glen has a slope rating of 129.
Of the 18 holes, eight have been newly constructed and eight have been modified, the last of which was opened for play this spring. Bunkers, water hazards and gardens have been added to give the course a completely new look and feel. The front nine is wide open, almost in a meadow setting, while the back nine is cut out of the forest, McWha said.
"It's almost like having two different nines, the experience can be so different," he said. "It's one of the few courses where there are no roads or houses around. It's a very quiet setting."
For first-time golfers or those in need of brushing up their skills, the on-site Brent Morrison Golf Academy provides the services of up to five certified Canadian PGA Teaching Professionals, two spacious circular greens for practicing the short game and bunkers for practicing the sand game. Guest fees are inclusive of practice balls.
The short-game area features strategically placed bunkers, grass swells and mounds of various depths and degrees of difficulty, allowing players to create shots using a wide variety of slopes, elevations and turf conditions — including closely cut chipping areas, fairway-height approaches and rough-length grass swells. Areas are provided to practice pitch and lob shots over bunkers and wedge shots up to 120 yards in length.
Bearing in mind that individuals hardly ever learn in quite the same manner or pace, personalized instruction programs have been developed to encourage the progress of each student. "It's somewhat similar in approach to the David Leadbetter schools," McWha said. "But we've had nothing like that in Canada."
The Academy runs a 10-month collegiate prep program for high school golfers to increase their chances of landing a college golf scholarship. Participating players live with local families and finish school while going through an extensive golf training regiment.
Students from India, Mexico, Japan, the U.S. and all parts of Canada have all taken part in the program. Last year, six students from the program earned golf scholarships.
There is, of course, more to the resort than golf. Guests can relax at the Pheasant's Nest Restaurant and Lounge. The menu features their signature fish ‘n' chips, soups, light luncheon fare and fresh seafood entrees.
Plans in the pipeline for 40 acres of the property include a new clubhouse restaurant, new banquet and meeting facilities, and an expanded golf shop. A spa, fitness center and pool are due to be added as well.
Accommodations vary from villas and cottages spread throughout the property to suites on the top floor of the clubhouse and others overlooking the ninth green and Mount Arrowsmith. Pheasant Glen is so secluded that future plans include a fly fishing area on site.
Visitors to the area, also have the option of staying at one of the nearby hotels that are partnered with the resort.
Pheasant Glen is a 30-minute drive from the Nanaimo ferry terminal at Departure Bay, or an even shorter drive from the Qualicum Beach Airport. There are five flights per day on KD Air from the South Terminal at Vancouver International Airport. Connecting flights are available from anywhere in western Canada for a morning arrival.
June 6, 2005
The Kootenays, a spread-out collection of towns in the Canadian Rockies that's an hour flight from Vancouver, is still pridefully small town in feel. So it's no surprise that a new master-planned golf community and resort is causing quite a stir.
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