Kelowna, British Columbia is one of the most picturesque cities in Canada, positioned beautifully in the Okanagan Valley and along Okanagan Lake. Arriving at Vancouver International Airport on an overcast morning, I had set an itinerary for myself over 36 hours which would allow me two rounds of golf at two of Kelowna’s 18 local courses, and arguably two of their best and both positioned on my bucket list – Gallagher’s Canyon and Tower Ranch. My GPS identified the drive from YVR to Gallagher’s Canyon at just over 4.5 hours. As is the case anytime I’ve driven in BC, the journey is just as memorable as the destination. The drive to Kelowna, along the Trans Canada, and Highways 5 and 97, took me over two mountain passes – Needle Peak and Pennask Mountain. At Pennask, the elevation change took the rain showers I had experienced from Vancouver and changed it over to a significant snowfall. Considering I was only about 50km from the course it was eye opening to experience this! Gallagher’s Canyon is about 35 years old and is set along Scenic Canyon.
The 9th hole sets players alongside the expansive canyon drop to the left. But the impressiveness truly starts on the opening tee with one of the best opening tee shots in golf in Canada. This is an excellent layout with brilliant use of the elevation change throughout the course. A full review of Gallagher’s Canyon is forthcoming at 36aday but this is an excellent championship course which hosts the PGA of BC Championship.
Activities outside the golf course are plentiful with wine tours, craft breweries, arts, spas and farm-to-table tours to mention only a few, and of course there is the lake and the abundance of water activities. Resting up after a memorable round and sampling local beer and farm-fresh food, I was able to arrive early at Tower Ranch Golf Club. A Tom McBroom design, this course is one of the most visually stunning I have experienced with intelligence in its design.
My advice; play one tee forward as the course demands excellent ball striking. Yet McBroom adds a playability factor for players of all skill level with his design that can funnel shots back into position through effective use of the natural, and very hilly terrain. It’s a course I’d love to play again and again. Holes 11-13 may be one of my favourite three-hole stretches I’ve experienced. Fortunate to catch a sunny day, it only added to the awe of the vistas looking over the entire city from its location high up the hillside. Finishing my round, it was hard to believe that my quick trip to Kelowna had come to an end. With business in Vancouver I had to return back and the drive, set in brilliant, mild sunshine was relaxed and easy.
Everything about this trip was easy and efficient. Airport car rentals are extremely efficient to get renters off quickly. Having booked tee times in advance, the toughest decision I had over the two days was where to go for dinner and what to eat. Tacking on time over any trip to Vancouver, this two-day, one night getaway is exciting, memorable and will have you wanting to come back to Kelowna for more.
Two days. 921 km. 36 holes. 2 bucket list courses. One incredible city and a great golfing experience.