Golf trips to the B.C. Interior have been all the rage for years, particularly to the Okanagan and Kamloops. I was lucky enough a few years ago to have a surprise stop included on a weekend trip, at a place few Vancouverites have ever heard about. And I revisited this spring.
Sandpiper Golf Club is located in Harrison Mills near Mission, and that makes it a welcome diversion on the way to the B.C. Interior. My hockey group has made it a regular part of our annual forays to the Kamloops area in late spring, and it never disappoints. A river runs by it, a creek runs through it, snow-capped peaks dot the horizon, and this resort course is sneaky challenging.
Measuring a modest 6,008 yards from the white tees and 6,500 from the blues, with an astounding amount of playable rough despite the profusion of towering Douglas firs alongside most fairways, this course will not beat you up. But to score well, you’ll need to navigate some narrow fairways and sloped greens that can easily turn a birdie chance into a three-putt setback.
Canada’s best luxury website: Resort course ideal for a day trip, overnight, or for a stop en route to the B.C. Interior
Playing Sandpiper on a day trip from Vancouver – about a 90-minute drive away – the course was in good shape for early spring and we were shocked to be able to strip off a layer to get down to our short-sleeve shirts for most of the round. The most welcome surprise was the almost total lack of wind at a course where gusts off the Harrison River tend to make things even trickier in the afternoons.
Even when you’re off your game, as I was on this day, the scenery will keep you smiling. And you get your views to the river right from the get-go via a 543-yard par-5 first hole that ranks as the seventh toughest on the course. Two holes later, you’re facing a tough 199-yard par-3 guarded by a front right bunker.
Sandpiper is considered one of B.C.’s finest resort courses, and for good reason. The scenic drive along Highway 7 from Mission takes you past dairy farms and alongside the Harrison (a tributary of the Fraser River) into a stunning piece of the valley. You can do it as a loop en route to the B.C. Interior by heading east to Agassiz (then back out to Highway 1) after your round, or you can continue east on Highway 7 to rejoin the Trans Canada at Hope for for a drive through the Fraser Canyon.
B.C. golf: Rowena’s Inn, plus cabins, offer great overnight stay options
While enjoying a nice meal on the patio of Sandpiper’s Rowena’s Inn on the River after our spring round, I bumped into another hockey friend and his wife enjoying an overnight romantic birthday getaway in one of the resort’s cabins. They raved about the cabins, which range from rustic 1-bedroom options to one, two and three-bedroom luxury cottages.
Well-equipped with full kitchens – plus big TVs subscribed to networks and major sports packages – the larger cabins will appeal to groups looking for getaways close to Vancouver.
There are also rooms for rent in the historic 1920s-built Rowena Inn on the River, the former home of the Pretty family that first bought a 160-acre parcel of land at the site after Charles Nelson Pretty and Rowena Elizabeth Peters were married in 1917. The Pretty’s bedrooms were eventually converted to bed-and-breakfast guest rooms in 1995, when the golf course was opened.
Sandpiper also offers golf and flyfishing, and golf and sturgeon fishing packages. And the area is ripe for exploration, including hiking at Cascade Falls Regional Park about a half hour drive away, and relaxation (and a great second overnight stop) at Harrison Hot Springs only about 20 minutes to the east of Sandpiper.