Bear Mountain Golf Resort has opened another 18-hole championship course on its fabulous tourist complex in Victoria, British Columbia. The Valley Course is the friendlier, resort-type layout that is a great complement to the tough Mountain Course. The resort now has the only 36-hole Nicklaus facility in Canada.
The Valley course measures 6,800 yards the Golden tees with four other tee options available. The great scenery begins right from the clubhouse and continues with every single hole. The Valley course is beautifully cut through the rough terrain with large exposed rock visible on most holes. Many elevated tees, wider fairways and larger greens make the Valley course more playable for the average golfer. However, there are still plenty of hazards to deal with as each hole gives the golfer much to think about.
Although the fairways are quite generous, there will be plenty of uneven lies to deal with. That, however, is not the biggest defence this course has to offer. The sizable greens are tiered and have large swales as if a whale was coming up to breach. Course knowledge helps to play to the right spots on these greens where you’ll be presented with opportunities to make putts but there are many areas that should be avoided at all costs. Be prepared for numerous shot options around the greens with many collection areas and elevation changes – your short game will need to be on song to negotiate all the undulations, hills and bunkers that protect the putting surfaces.
The Valley course opened for play in 2009 and, at the time of writing, is quite dry and firm. A noticeable lack of housing around the Valley course is in stark contrast to its Mountain neighbour and therefore the Valley affords a very pleasant walk with each unique hole.
Although in contrast to the Mountain course, the Valley is just as enjoyable and as well as relishing the stunning natural beauty of the course you can perhaps card a decent score too.
I just returned from 4 days at Bear Mountain playing both courses. It was cold and wet. We had wind and rain. The Valley course was my preferred course. It was a sincere golf course whereby the higher acclaimed Mountain course had a couple of gimmicky holes. While called the Valley Course it was replete with elevation changes and the course was beautifully carved into the natural terrain and rock formations. While many of the holes had generous landing areas you were offered risk/reward lines that required greater precision. I am a big fan of golf courses with one of the nines have 3 par 3s, 3 par 4s, and 3 par 5s (like this) as it gives long hitters an extra chance for an eagle and everybody an extra chance at the glorious ace. My only suggestion to improve the golf course would be to move the tee boxes back 10-15 yards on #9 and make it a par 5. In 4 tries it took everything I had in the bag plus a generous cart path to reach in regulation. It is a par 71 so adding a swing would be worth it. For a comparison, I love Greywolf in the Columbia Valley (BC). I put the Valley Course in higher regard.
The companion layout to the more acclaimed Mountain course, the Valley is simply bare bones resort golf. Giving players some reasonable challenges but nothing that really gets the pulse going with excitement. The terrain is interesting at times but it's always kept to a level where enjoyment, not potential pain with endless lost balls, is strived for throughout the round.
The ending series of holes has a few elements that are interesting. The par-5 15th features a demanding tee shot with water down the left side. The long par-4 17th is also good with the green on the far side of a fronting hazard.
The concluding par-5 18th gives you one final opportunity for birdie to end one's day in fine fashion. For the more serious golfers and those wanting compelling architecture of a higher level -- it's best to stay simply on the Mountain Course.
by M. James Ward