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Whistler golf courses expect another busy season

Course conditions are looking good at each of Whistler’s courses ahead of this week’s opening day
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Opening day for Whistler Golf Club (pictured) is Thursday, May 12, while Fairmont Chateau and Nicklaus North open the following day. Photo courtesy of Whistler Golf Club.

Even if the usual spring temperatures haven’t quite made their way to the Sea to Sky yet this year, the usual spring activities are still making their return.

And with three high-end courses in town, golf tops the list of must-do summer activities in Whistler.

Despite the winter-like conditions through most of spring so far, each of the Fairmont Chateau Golf Club, Nicklaus North Golf Club and Whistler Golf Club are set to open this week: May 13 for Fairmont and Nicklaus North and May 12 for Whistler Golf Club.

So pull those clubs out of the basement, shed or garage and get ready for another busy year of golf in Whistler.

Fairmont Chateau Golf Club

According to the Fairmont Chateau’s director of golf Padraic O’Rourke, the course being north-facing and at a higher elevation than the town’s other two courses can often create early-season condition challenges for the club due to certain parts of the fairway being shaded and covered in snow longer.

However, despite the added challenges, O’Rourke said the course is in good shape for opening day on May 13 and will be back to its usual pristine conditions in a few short weeks.

One exciting aspect to the club this year, according to O’Rourke, is the return of head coach Matt Denzer, who recently was named one of Golf Digest’s top 40 coaches under 40 in North America.

“He’ll be here in June, July, August and half of September, so that’s exciting for people in the locality,” said O’Rourke. “He’s an awesome golf coach [for] people in the Sea to Sky area having that sort of wealth and knowledge to work on their games and we’re looking forward to him bringing an added service to the Chateau this year.”

O’Rourke also wanted to highlight the ongoing upgrades at the course, which include continued bunker replacements as well as an improved cart path in certain spots, and their full food and beverage offering, including “a great breakfast,” a “renowned burger,” and a great ambience for people to enjoy their meals.

Nicklaus North Golf Club

It is the beginning of a new chapter at Nick North this year. Jason Lowe, general manager of the club for the past five years, is moving on to a new role with Golf BC and will be replaced by Gavin Eckford.

“Fresh eyes and fresh energy is always going to be good,” said Lowe. “He’s really built on his skills since he’s left Nicklaus North [10 years ago]. So I think he will continue with all the positive things we’ve been doing but also add a bunch of other new positives in the mix.”

Despite the “wintery” conditions so far this spring, Eckford said the golf course is in “awesome shape” due to his crew’s tireless work to get ready for the May 13 opening.

While excited about the new role and happy to be back in Whistler after 10 years away, Eckford hopes to bring his own flair to Nick North and keep the good times going for members, locals and out-of-towners alike.

“I’m a big fan of making great experiences,” he said. “The ultimate goal for me is everybody who comes through the door has a good experience. Whether it’s a member or from overseas I just hope they leave with fond memories of Nicklaus North on their minds.”

Over the winter, the club’s restaurant, Table 19, which opened to the public on May 11, underwent some minor construction to add a retractable awning over the full patio to increase functionality and comfort for more people, regardless of weather conditions.

Eckford also wanted to highlight the club’s indoor training and club fitting centre called The Cabin, which he expects to continue to be busy throughout the summer.

Whistler Golf Club

Continuing the trend of the other two courses, Whistler Golf Club’s general manager Alan Kristmanson said his course wintered really well and is in great shape ahead of May 12’s opening day.

“Now we are just waiting for the temperatures to warm up and everybody to get excited about golf,” he said. “But based on how busy we’ve been at the range, everybody is raring to get going—the range has been packed.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last two years have seen a huge influx in the amount of people taking up the sport of golf. But despite things opening back up again and people returning to their regular summer activities, Kristmanson is expecting numbers to stay steady this year, thanks to the return of international clients.

“We are definitely seeing more corporate stuff starting to come back and we’re definitely seeing more international bookings on the books,” said Kristmanson. “So I think with that and the people in B.C. rediscovering golf, we are going to have another really busy year for sure.”

Overall, Kristmanson just hopes to continue the momentum from last year and is excited to have a full season to show off the renovations on the Club’s signature hole (named The Gallery), which were completed last July.