Bowen Island Golf Club


We ferried into Snug Cove on Bowen Island, and it felt like something out of a storybook.  A perfect little harbour, marina and shops, with treed mountains tumbling down on three sides.  The Village near the harbour had infinite character and it was noticeably clean and well kept.  The feeling was warm and inviting.  As we meandered toward the golf course we quickly realized that the speed limit was about 10km per hour under the posted sign.  My three buddies and I were chicken-necking back and forth trying to catch glimpses of all the unique houses and properties, each with their own wild terrain and landscape.  I felt my shoulders relax and my heart rate mellow as my friend Paul announces passionately, “Bowen is Bitchin’!”.  We laughed that maybe this should be the welcome slogan as you come onto the Island.

View of the harbour at Snug Cove

As we approached the course, we found ourselves driving through the trees on a gravel road with glimpses of the 1st and 9th hole adjacent.  My honest thought was that Magnolia Lane at Augusta National couldn’t possibly measure up to this approach.  I find my way into the small pro shop and there are two beautiful dogs on leashes just hanging out with their owners.  One of the two dogs was about to head off onto the golf course with his owner for their 11:15 starting time.  That’s right, dogs are allowed on the golf course! Brilliant! 

As I exited the shop and stood admiring the beautiful terrain and the view of Howe Sound, Bowen Island was quickly becoming a special place in my mind. And, to add to the relaxed feel, tee times were 15 minutes apart.  This really made me smile because I know that 15-minute spaces between times makes it feel like the course is all yours. Rarely will you catch the group ahead of you or be caught, especially over 9 holes.

Off we went.  Gorgeous rolling terrain, grass that was lush and thriving, beautifully treed fairways, and inspiring nature walks through BC rainforest between holes.  To quote my youngest daughter when she had one of those moments where you feel life can’t get any better, “I just feel like I’m….in place”.

Allow me to nerd out on two aspects of the design I found to be remarkable.  One thing I noticed was that for a 9-hole course, I think I hit about every club in my bag.  I had quite a few difficult long iron shots, a couple opportunities with wedges in my hand and everything in between.  There were plenty of risk/reward opportunities off the tee and, if played well, the opportunity to get to the par fives in two. In golf design I believe this would mean that the course designer, Russ Olsen, created a course with outstanding “shot values”. The second major detail that I was wildly impressed by were the golf green complexes.  As someone who studies, practices, and loves the art of golf green design, these greens were fun, fun, fun. There was steep mounding and slopes which helped highlight 2 to 4 distinct portions of the golf green to place the pin, each with its own level of difficulty.  Knowing where not to miss these greens would be a distinct advantage.  The greens wern’t very large but they were highly interesting and visually pleasing.

It is a course that could take many rounds to learn how to play it best.  This, in my opinion, shows the strength of the course.  The design, the challenge, the dogs, the tee time spacing, all of it adds up to an amazing experience.  There are few courses that I could say I would want to hang my hat on and play every day, but this is one of them.  I think too that the 9-hole layout is a big plus for me.  For some reason, I find 9 holes to be more and more in line with the kind of golf I like to play.  This was a somewhat challenging walk, but I felt strong after 9 holes, it left me in a good mood and wanting to come back again another day.  18 holes might have burned me out or it may have made my experience a little different.  Perhaps I would have been less appreciative of the nature, the vistas, the shot values, etcetera. 9 holes of golf is perfectly in line with the pace and peacefulness of the Bowen Island experience.

As we finished a post round drink and appy we walked out onto the large practice green. It so happened that we would have to walk across the length of it to get to the car so of course we took the opportunity to have a long-putt contest.  After I missed, our buddy Paul stepped up and made a 93 foot putt!!!  If you don’t know what 93’ looks like go outside and take 31 big steps in one direction.  What are the odds!?  What a perfect send-off to a perfect day.

David McLay Kidd of Bandon Dunes fame says golf course design is all about the reveal. Here it is, as you step on to #9 tee.

As we missed our ferry, we praised the golf gods as this gave us ample time to explore the Village and have what I think might have been the world’s finest fish n’ chips at Doc Morgan’s Pub.  We explored the marina and the shops, and our friend Dennis recalled memories of weekends at the Marina growing up, as his dad moored a boat there for a time.  Dennis has been many places, but he proudly states that Bowen Island is his “favorite place on Earth” to which I cannot argue as it is all too well known that at the deepest level of expression, we all would agree, unequivocally, Bowen is Bitchin!

Shout out to the three best golf buds a guy could have.  Dennis, Paul, Cory and I have been on some beauty golf roadies together and I hope that health and circumstance allow us more opportunities to explore this amazing game together.

Cory, Paul and Dennis

2 thoughts on “Bowen Island Golf Club”

  1. Magnificent review of our Golf Club on Beautiful Bowen Island .. great great writing. It is without Question the greatest 9 hole golf course on planet Earth. Thanks For the Review. Cheers from a Bowen GC Member

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