Gold Tees 6900 yards, 72.8 Rating 131 Slope
White Tees 6001 yards, 68.5 Rating 124 Slope
Design: Arnold Palmer
The opportunity to
play a course that hosts a PGA Tour event always brings
with it a certain amount of intrique. Having the chance
to see first-hand where the pros play and to answer the
question: 'How would I make out on a course like that?'
is an opportunity not to be missed! This intrique certainly
intensifies when the course involved is the Northview Golf
Club in Vancouver, annual host of the original Greater Vancouver
Open and now the renamed Air Canada Championships (has since
been removed from PGA Tour calendar).
Most Canadians retain a vivid
image of Northview in their minds, whether they know it
or not and that is the image of Mike Weir holing out for
eagle on Northview's 14th hole at the 1999 Air Canada Championship.
It was that action that carried him along to his first victory
on the big tour. Weir's win at Northview was one of the
most important events in Canadian golf history as it marked
the first win by a Canadian on Canadian soil, since Pat
Fletcher won the Canadian Open in 1954. An elegant plaque
honoring Weir's achievement was erected by the club next
to the 14th tee box commemorating the event for future generations
of Canadian golf fans.
A relatively open layout with
lots of big bunkers and plenty of water, the Ridge Course
at Northview puts a premium on crisp, accurate shotmaking.
The front 9 and the back 9 play very differently and punish
poor play in different manners.
|The front starts
up hill from the clubhouse and meanders it way through
some tight tree-lined holes along the 'ridge' area of
the course. Notably, the second and third holes provide
an immediate test. The second demands a strong left-to-right
tee shot to an elevated fairway. Avoiding the lone tree
guarding the left side of the fairway can leave players
a nice short iron approach. The 3rd is the most difficult
hole on the course and demands a strong tee shot
the fairway here is really tight. The approach shot
is inevitably hit from a downhill lie, while the green
is protected by 3 deep bunkers. I was happy to walk
away with a 5 on this par 4!
3rd Hole, Ridge Course, Northview
9 contrasts the front 9 with a more open links style
layout as you move down into the scenic Fraser River
Valley. Water comes into play on most holes, most
notably 10 and 18. Ten is a fairly straight-away par
4, but the green is protected on the left side by
a pond which can make the approach very tricky.
The signature 18th hole
is fantastic. As players tee off with Northview's
clubhouse in their sightlines, they are given the
choice of a split fairway.
Players opting to play out to the right can have a go
at the green in 2 with a strong tee shot.This sounds
fine but this shot is dead over the water and is not
for the faint of heart. The rest of us mortals are better
served playing out to the left
18th Hole, Ridge Course at Northview
up before a third shot to the large green that slopes
right at water.
|Two other legendary
names are also front and center here at Northview. Most
notably is the course designer Arnold Palmer. The short
par 4 8th hole is is in the classic Arnie design mold.
A go-for-broke 325 yard downhill tee shot tempts players
into gambling mode with the possibility of making eagle.
Short hitters need not apply.
Northview also boasts a Palmer retrospective room commemorating
some of the King's greatest achievements with photos
and memorabilia and a whole lot more.
8th Hole, Ridge Course at Northview
Payne Stewart is also fondly remembered
here at Northview. As visitors arrive off of 168th Street
from suburban Surrey, they enter the ground on Payne Stewart
Drive. Payne Stewart had played here in Vancouver on a number
of occasions and according to locals I met during my visit
he was very fond of the course and did a lot to help promote
it. I played Northview on a damp rainy afternoon and it
was hard not to recall Stewart's stirring win at the US
Open at Pinehurst #2 in very similar conditions.
With a top rate of $85, Northview
has not fallen into the trap of charging obnoxious rates
like other tournament sites like Glen Abbey and Angus Glen
in Ontario. I thought the $35 off-season rate I paid to
be a wonderful surprise. Overall Northview is a wonderfully
crafted course and a stern test. The greens are not unbelievably
undulated so it does allow you the opportunity to make up
a few strokes with the flat stick.
And seeing Mike Weir's 14th hole
was almost worth the price of admission on its own.
- March 2001