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Bear Mountain At Victoria B.C. is Destined to Become Canada's Finest

by Scott A. Sumner
   One of my favourite courses of all time was our last golf course on Vancouver Island - Bear Mountain.  The business story behind this hundreds of millions development is quite intriguing.  According to Peter Breair, Director of Resort Sales, Bear Mountain, Len Barrie who had played NHL hockey for the Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals, was a member at the Royal Colwood club just near Bear Mountain.  He cut down some trees that he thought were on his property but were on the golf course property.  The golf course got very upset and at the end of the day Barrie was asked to leave.  Len said 'Ill build my own golf course.'  No one though he could, but Bear Mountain became his vision.  He bought the land from Western Forest Products about 5 or 6 years ago, approached Jack Nicklaus, and about four years ago one of Canada's best courses became a reality.  Second to that was the real estate.  This development is something to see and will in my opinion be perhaps the number one golf course destination in Canada.

The famous 19th Hole at Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain has been voted the number one golf course in western Canada by WestWorld magazine.  It is the destination course on Vancouver Island now.  There is a membership fee of $35,000 and $350 a month and so far there are 140 or 150 members.  The green fee is $125 peak season outside 7 days and $95 with in 7 days.  Off season prices are down a little bit.

An Island Green from designer Jack Nicklaus

  "We do extremely well.  The thing about Bear Mountain is to introduce the people to the golf course, then to the resort and then real estate as well.  The clubhouse is a $1 million temporary club house.  The second phase was the Fairways hotel with 65 guest rooms - 34 deluxe and 31suites with a rate of $339.00 at peak season.  Next coming is a 10,000 square foot athletic club to open mid September, 2005 with an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, full work out facility including pilates and yoga," says Peter Breair, Director of Resort Sales, Bear Mountain.  "Next summer is the large club house facility with 95 more guest rooms totalling 370,000 square feet.  A new course is under construction as well as condos, shops and lots more.  The second course will open with 9 holes in 2007 and  9 more in 2008 a Jack Nicklaus course as well."  The ownership  of Bear Mountain consistes of  hockey players Mike Vernon, Sean Burke, Len Barrie and Mike Vernon.  "I love the course.  It's a gorgeous course and challenging.  You can play golf all year round.  It is a well kept secret," smiles Todd Mahovlich Director of Golf.  "Last year we did around 36,000 rounds and this year expect 42,000.  It's great fun.  I've always like Nicklaus courses and have been fortunate enough to play them all around the wold.  This is definitely one of Jacks best.  It's so much fun with the setting and play ability of the course.  It is a great course for all levels.  It is just flat out fun at a number of different speeds and is made to be all weather.  It gives you a lot of options and you can play the risk reward game and play driver all day long if you want or play more conservative as well It is just different every time you play it.  By changing there tee box and flag locations and with our setting being in between three mountains the wind does different things.  It's different every time you come out."

We experience a heli ride over Bear Mountain onour way to the fantastic Olympic View

      "The slope rating of Bear Mountain off the back tees is 152 which is pretty high.  We are still a few years away from the finished product," smiles Mahovlich, who is related to the hockey great Frank.  This is a course you have to play.  It may become your favourite course!

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