The Greencard Tour last visited Canada in 2011. It is such a great venue and it was high time that we returned to this beautiful part of the world. We decided to change the itinerary from our previous visit and this time would be staying at Fairmont hotels throughout the trip. The schedule was three nights in Vancouver, six nights on Vancouver Island and five nights in Banff.
Jet-Lagged Jez Morgan beaten into second on his Signature Course!
Our stay in Vancouver was to include one round at Furry Creek followed by a couple of free days. However, shortly before we were due to leave the UK, we had word that due to the extremely dry summer in this part of Canada, the course was in poor condition. As a result, the decision was taken to move the first team game to Morgan Creek, which is one of BC’s premier courses. This also allowed the group to have a day at leisure after arriving in Canada. We expected great things from this Jez Morgan signature course. The weather was slightly overcast and with the jetleg still very much in play, many of us had been up for several hours prior to the mid-morning tee time!
It was a pleasure to play Morgan Creek, it was a great layout with some wonderful holes. The format was the best two scores to count from each hole. The team consisting of Louise Andrews, Kathy Snowdon and Andrew Whitfield took the victory with a score of 83. John Jagger, Jane Jagger, Jackie Scott Kerr and course designer(!) Jez Morgan were in second place with 77.
Welcome aboard the Greencard Sea Plane
We had chartered a sea plane to take our group from Vancouver to Vancouver Island. The flight time was less than thirty minutes. The luggage had left earlier in the morning and transferred by road and ferry. We were staying in the Fairmont Empress, which is located on the harbour front. This allowed us to disembark the seaplane and walk across the road to the hotel lobby. The bags were already in the respective rooms making it a great and stress free way to transfer.
Great atmosphere on Vancouver Island
On our previous visit to Vancouver Island we were based at the Bear Mountain resort. It was without question a scenic and comfortable place to stay. However, we felt that it was little too far from the restaurants in the evening. We therefore opted for the Empress which has a huge selection of restaurants, bars and shops, within a few minutes walk. Indeed, one of the restaurants located opposite the hotel had a wonderful terrace overlooking the harbour. It was a great place to have a drink and watch the sun set. This town and harbour is truly a special place.
Olympic View doesn’t disappoint
We had three rounds scheduled during our stay on the island. The first of these was at Olympic View. Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island the course is aptly named for its beautiful views of Washington State’s Olympic Mountains. The format was another team game and it was closely fought affair. The top three teams all scored 83 points but the team taking the victory on countback included Gary Corbett, Andrew Whitfield, Louise Andrews and Tina Ives.
Ladies dominate at Victoria Golf Course
The next day we travelled the short distance to Victoria Golf Club. This is the number one course on Vancouver Island, number three in BC and ranked number fifteen in Canada. Located directly alongside the Pacific Ocean, the course offers remarkable scenery. A few of the group even spotted whales swimming offshore. This was the first round of the individual stableford competition. The ladies dominated the scoring with Sandie Klimcke top of the tree carding a superb 38 points. Gwyneth Fielding was lying in second with 34, followed by Jean Corbett and Debbie Morgan on 33. John Jagger was the leading man with 29 points.
After two consecutive rounds, it was time for a free day and to take advantage of all that this wonderful place has to offer. Whether it be the whale watching cruises, a visit to the spectacular Butchart Gardens, open top bus tours or a stroll through the town and around the harbour.
Greencard meets some of the great past Champions
Our visit to the island, coincided with the PGA Champions Tour event at Bear Mountain. They were playing on the Mountain course. We would be playing on the sister Valley course the following day. Several members of group went to watch the event. It was great to be standing next to and watching some of the greats of our time playing. These included Colin Montgomerie, Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer amongst many others. It was a great day and despite Jean Corbett being stung by a wasp everybody else enjoyed the experience of watching some of the greats of the game. We all left determined to try and improve our skills after watching how the game should be played!
Round 2: Monty Gets in on the Act but Sandie Klimcke Stays at the Top
We returned to Bear Mountain the next morning for the second round of the individual stableford competition. Having already photo-bombed a Greencard photograph in his golf buggy it was quite an unusual experience watching Colin Montgomerie practising his putting next to our first tee. The Valley course has plenty of elevated tees and whilst the scenery is simply stunning at times, there are plenty of challenges on the way to achieving a good score.
The day’s best score belonged to Tina Ives who despite struggling at the start of the round had an excellent back nine and finished on 31 points. Reuben Fielding played solid golf to score 30 points and move up the leaderboard. Gary Corbett had 29, whilst the first round leader, Sandie Klimcke maintained her position at the top after a score of 28 which increased her overall lead to 6 points.
Early start as we head to the “Castle in the Rockies”
After one more night in Victoria, we had an early rise for the short transfer to Victoria Airport for our flight to Calgary and onward journey to Banff Springs. The scenery on the way from Calgary to Banff was stunning and just a taste of what was to come in Banff itself.
We were staying at the famous Fairmont Banff Springs, it is known as the “Castle in the Rockies”. The view from the hotel terrace and bar is just breath-taking. The immense mountain range surrounds the area. The valley floor below is home to a magnificent golf course and the crystal clear waters of the river running alongside.
Images From the Fairmont Banff Springs
Stunning Banff Springs course – one of the best we’ve played
We had three rounds on the aforementioned course. The first of these was another team event and this time it was the turn of Jez Morgan, Debbie Morgan and Sandie Klimcke to take the win with 89 points.
This course is special. It is not just the spectacular scenery but the design of the course which makes it one of the most enjoyable on the Greencard Tour. The par 5 ninth hole, which runs alongside the river is simply stunning and will be remembered for some time.
There was no golf scheduled for the next day and members of the group took the opportunity to take the cable car to the top of the nearby mountain range. The views were amazing. Others drove over to see Lake Louise or simply took a stroll along the river into the town of Banff, where restaurants and shops were in plentiful supply.
Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the next couple of days was not looking too promising. There was low pressure front coming across the area for three days before it was back to sunshine and blue skies. After enjoying fantastic weather throughout our stay in Vancouver Island, we had to be philosophical as there really is nothing you can do to control the weather, particularly in the mountains. With the sunshine hidden, the temperatures dropped and the third round was a chilly one!
Round 3: Ladies lead the way through the Mountains
The ladies continued to dominate the leaderboard with Debbie Morgan and Louise Andrews topping the day’s scoring with 33 points each. Jez Morgan was the leading man with 32, a score matched by Tina Ives. Jean Corbett and Anne Archer both finished the day on 28. With one round to go Tina Ives and Sandie Klimcke were both lying on 91 points. Debbie Morgan had moved up into third position with Louise Andrews making up the lead fourball. Reuben Fielding, Peter Archer and Gary Corbett were in the chasing pack but some distance back from the leaders.
Round 4: Close finish on the cards despite snow flurries
Whilst the temperature had improved for the final round, the snow flurries falling were causing a few issues and with the course being very particular about playing on the greens in this kind of inclement weather play was suspended before the whole group had even left the first tee.
However, after about 30 minutes we were back on the course and the conditions soon improved. One of the amazing things about the location of the course is the wildlife that can be seen. We saw a number of elks and even a coyote. It was quite a surreal feeling playing a hole with quite a few people standing alongside the fairway taking photos of an elk who was strolling down the other side of the hole.
The favourites at the start of the last round had to be Sandie Klimcke and Tina Ives. Both had been playing well and there was a significant gap to third place. However, as we know anything can happen in golf and shots can be made up in rapid time.
At halfway it’s a two way race
After nine holes Sandie had managed to accumulate 14 points, whilst Tina had 17 and now had a lead of three. Debbie had fallen away a little with 15 points but Louise was on a charge with 18 and was now only five behind the leader.
Meanwhile, after a poor first couple of holes Gary Corbett was fighting back and having birdied and then eagled the two pars, which gave him nine points in two holes, he had managed to reach 19 at the turn. If he could keep it going in the back nine, he may just have a chance.
By the end of the round Gary had carded an excellent 33 points and an overall total of 117. This would ultimately secure a third place position for the event.
It all comes down to the final few putts
The final hole at Banff Springs is a par 5, another great driving hole with a testing approach shot. The girls had laid up short of the green. Both Louise and Tina holed their putts, whilst Sandie’s and Debbie’s just slipped by the hole.
This turned out to be a decisive few minutes of play. Tina ended the day of a total of 30 and 121 overall, whilst Sandie’s 28 gave her a total of 119. Had the putts gone the other way we could have seen a different result. That is the beauty of this sport, after 72 holes it came down to the last putts on the final green.
Louise Andrews and Debbie Morgan both finished on a total of 116 and took fourth and fifth places respectively.
Tina and Sandie both secure Finals qualification
Huge congratulations to Tina Ives on her tremendous victory in her maiden Greencard event. Tina has now qaulified for the Grand Finals, which will be held in La Manga at the end of the season. By finishing in second place Sandie Klimcke took her personal Tour Points tally past the 10 required for the Finals qualification.
We had a prize giving dinner on the final evening, which was the perfect way to end a wonderful tour of this special country. We would like to thank everyone for making the event such a success.
Greencard Golf Holidays Canada 2018: Final Leaderboard
|Name||Handicap||Rnd 1||Rnd 2||Rnd 3||Rnd 4||Total Pts|
|7||Jackie Scott Kerr||13||31||27||23||28||109|