Score Golf Course Review - Lake Point Golf and Country Club
Lake Point G&CC
Fort St. John, B.C.
Architect: Norman Woods
Date Played: August 2014
Peak Rate: $50
Every August a few of us Vancouver-based golf pros fly up to Fort St. John, in Northern B.C. to play in the annual Lake Point Charity Pro-Am. It is a great event, where the local organizers go out of their way to welcome the professionals. In addition to the hospitality, one of the real reasons so many of us make the trip north is the calibre of and enjoyment we get playing the Lake Point G&CC.
Officially opening on July 1st, 1959, Lake Point was designed by Norman Woods, who earlier in his career apprenticed under the great Stanley Thompson. The Thompson influence can be seen throughout the Lake Point course. Some of Woods’s other notable designs include Glendale in Edmonton and Kokanee Springs in Crawford Bay, B.C.
Lake Point is built on a broad peninsula sloping gently towards the west shoreline of Charlie Lake. Most of the holes are set back in the trees but the ones nearest the clubhouse follow the shoreline and provide gorgeous views of the water. Over the years, the club has made a strong effort to thin out underbrush and widen corridors of play, greatly improving chances to find and even play a crooked tee shot.
The first hole is runway-wide par 5 along the lake. It is a swing-for-the-fences type of hole where the trouble is obvious but really not in play. A few solid swings can provide an eagle or birdie opportunity but the small green and clumps of trees will keep you honest. The 378-yard par-4 second is where the course first begins to hook you. A wide fairway follows the shoreline before curving slightly uphill away from the water to a mid-sized green sloping from back right to front left. The tee shot you play depends on your level of comfort. A confident player will swing freely with driver leaving a short wedge to a tricky green. A conservative player will hit three-wood down the right side, leaving a short iron and the timid player may lay back with a long iron but must now face a challenging uphill second to a semi blind green. At Lake Point you simply cannot miss on the high side. The third hole is similar to the second, although a bit more uphill, slightly shorter and with just as tricky a green. Your score on these two holes will reflect your ability to execute a game plane, hit to a preferred distance and leave your approach below the hole.
Your round continues with tee shots both uphill and downhill, with fairways that are generous but consistently filled with little rolls, humps and hollows. While the shots don’t seem difficult, rarely are they simple. One of the best stretches, and the heart of the back nine, is 11 through 14. Beginning with a mid-length, uphill dogleg left, these four holes beautifully use the terrain of the northern landscape to challenge, tempt and entertain you. If you have ever played Highlands Links, the Stanley Thompson masterpiece on Cape Breton Island, you will vividly remember how every wrinkle in the land is celebrated and made part of the course. At Lake Point, while not to the same scale, nor magical execution, there is something a little similar.
The par-5 12th hole gently sweeps along the top of the course, with a fairway tilted ever so slightly to the low side. Trees line both sides and with each swing you must safely navigate an uneven lie, and hit towards a landing zone filled with friendly and unfriendly bounces. Strong hitters have a chance to reach this long, narrow green in two but three safe shots will usually result in par. The 13th is a wonderful downhill par 4, with a fairway severed by a small stream. Downwind and from a forward tee, a mighty hit could reach the green; otherwise the smart play is to lay up with a mid to long iron. Your second is from an elevated but downhill lie, hitting across the stream and to a large deep green, which falls away quickly on the right. Two intimidating bunkers flank the low side, making this approach probably the best shot on the course, one you will be most satisfied to see land on the green.
The uphill par-4 14th hole is one of, if not the best, hole on the course. Playing longer than its posted 380 yards, you drive uphill towards a fairway split in two. The right side is low, semi-blind to the green and often skirted with thick rough. The left side offers a flat lie, shorter second and a view of the green but brings the trees into play. You must trust your aim and make a confident swing. The green is slightly elevated and the putting surface a little convex, with slopes falling away to the low side. Par is a great score, one you would gladly take standing back on the tee.
Lake Point G&CC is a wonderful course with an old-world charm. It provides an excellent variety of shot selection, route of play and terrain, in a way that really keeps you engaged. It is a must play when visiting the Fort St. John, Dawson Creek area of Northern B.C.