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 deal coming 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.
Located in Whistler, British Columbia, Nicklaus North Golf & Country Club is a 'signature design' by Jack Nicklaus. The golf course at Nicklaus Nth is part of a housing estate and Country Club and opened for play in 1996.
The design is typical Nicklaus with strategic bunkering and green complexes largely linear in formation... Each hole is framed by fir trees and many feature the odd water hazard or two... The setting is gorgeous. The glacial Green Lake and the snow capped mountain backdrop are a heady mix. At times the course touches the high end housing development and while it is very tasteful, it does hijack the serenity of the surroundings just a tad..
I didn't find the course easy- there are so many ways to come undone! There are risk/reward decisions to be made on every hole, which is fine, but there are times also where you have no option but to take on the longish carries over hazards.
The par 3 twelfth hole is one such hole and at 225 yards off the tips it is a brute! The 226 yard par 3 seventeenth is even harder, but does offer options for those keen to stay dry and play for bogey.
Notable holes include:
- hole 1, a par 5 with water in play off the tee and a tight landing area. Welcome to Nicklaus North!
- hole 3, a testing par 5
- hole 7, a short par 4 dominated by acres of bunkering and a mountain backdrop
- hole 10, a pretty par 3 over water
- hole 12, another par 3 with a long water carry to a crowned green- pretty, but pretty tough!
- hole 16, a strong par 4 finishing hole with water short of the green
- hole 17, a long par 3- a beautful brute of a hole with a green projecting out into Green Lake
- hole 18, a strong par 4, the closing hole is also the hardest on the course!
Nicklaus Nth is a quality course in a spectacular setting. Combine golf here with local courses at Big Sky, Chateau Whistler and Whistler GC and you have a very fine golf trip
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.