Opened in 1996 to instant critical acclaim, the Nicklaus North Golf and Country Club course is situated in Whistler Valley, five minutes from the Whistler Ski Resort in British Columbia. It is located in a spectacular setting only a two-hour drive north from Vancouver but it feels like a world away.
To underline the “Signature Design”, Jack Nicklaus played an exhibition round to mark the official opening of his 6908-yard Nicklaus North layout, which winds along a gentle valley floor alongside the glacier-fed Green Lake. Snowcapped peaks and majestic fir tree forests surround the course and fresh mountain air invigorates the golfer as the round unfolds.
Nicklaus North was the second Canadian course to be designed by the great man. He has been course architect to over 150 courses worldwide but this is one of the very few to which he has added his name to the title.
In 1998, Nicklaus North hosted “Shell's Wonderful World of Golf” competition and Fred Couples was certainly impressed by the panoramic mountain and lake views when he commented: “Whistler is the greatest place I've been to play golf" and that says a great from a man who has played golf all over the world.
The annual TELUS Skins game was held at Nicklaus North in 2005 and surprise, surprise; the Golden Bear was invited to compete for the first time since 1997 when he won two skins worth $35,000. This time, he more than held his own, picking up $120,000 from seven skins, the same as Stephen Ames who collected $150,000. John Daly netted three skins and won $65,000 whilst Vijay Singh walked away empty-handed after winning no skins.
The 226-yard 17th is a spectacular (and difficult) hole with trouble all around the green. A huge bunker to the front continues round the left to the back of the hole – be careful here as this sand trap is all that stands between the putting surface and Green Lake.
The Nicklaus North course asks golfers of any handicap intriguing questions about risk and reward on almost every tee. Shorter hitters will reach wide landing areas on the fairway but will then face long approaches to well defended greens. Longer hitters will be enticed into going for landing areas that are reachable only by flying water or fairway bunkers guarding that part of the fairway.