Mission Golf Club and Pender Harbour Golf club


Score Golf Coure Review - Mission Golf Club and Pender Harbour Golf Course

Mission Golf Club
Mission, BC

Architect: None
Par 35 / 71, 5575 - 6037 yards
Date Played: April 2015
Peak Rate $47, weekend 18 holes

Pender Harbour Golf Club
Pender Harbour, BC

Architect: None
Par 36 / 72, 5008 - 6190 yards
Date Played: April 2015
Peak Rate $47, weekend 18 holes

Mission Golf and Country Club and Pender Harbour Golf Course are two great examples of community minded nine-hole courses which are an important part of their local community. Both courses share a dedicated ownership, committed staff and provide enjoyable golf, at a great price, plus are unique in design and experience.

Mission Golf and Country Club opened in 1960, as a design collaboration of some founding members. The routing uses every inch of a smallish site perched on a ridge overlooking the Fraser River. The holes flow along the crest of the ridge before doubling back towards the clubhouse. Front and Back nine tee’s provide subtly different yardage and angles of play, so if you want to playthe holes twice, your shots can be quite different.

Rarely does a course offer back to back par fives, let alone to begin the round. At Mission you get two reachable par fives right off the bat. The first plays downhill to a fairway angled to your left. Out of Bounds flanks the entire right side and old growth Cedars guard the left side. Situated in the centre of the fairway, is a large and somewhat frustrating lone Cedar. You must hit your tee shot around the tree, which brings trouble into play both left and right. At just 467 yards, the hole is not long and leaves plenty of opportunity to recover from a poor tee shot, although beware the OB immediately to the right of the green. The second hole is more open, picturesque and compliments the first nicely. The fairway follows the ridge to your right and is guarded by more large Cedars on the left. A good drive should curve slightly to your right, and if long enough, will give you a great chance of reaching the green in two.

The following seven holes are a nice mix of shots, shapes and lengths. The third is a gorgeous little wedge over a ravine, the fourth requires an accurate tee shot and approach. The fifth tests your skill with a long iron and the sixth requires a tee shot curving right to left. On seven, you’ll have a chance to go at the green with your driver, or layup for a fun little wedge. On the downhill par three eighth, distance control is a must but avoid missing to the high side (left) as the up and down will be treacherous. The ninth hole is a fantastic par-4 / par-5 combo, working uphill towards the clubhouse. Presented with a wide fairway, you can really let the driver swing on this long hole. At driver distance, the fairway begins to climb uphill and the second plays considerably longer to a deep tiered green. On your first nine, the pin will be located on the front (bottom) half and the hole will play as a par-4. On your second nine, it will be in the back (top) half and play as a par-5. If you can score nine or better for your two tries on this hole, you have done exceptionally well.

With a peak rate of just $47 for 18 holes on the weekend, the golfing value at Mission is exceptional. The course is always in fantastic condition and the turf quality rivals what you would expect at many a top member club. 

Another great nine hole public course is the picturesque Pender Harbour Golf Course in Pender Harbour, BC. Located on the gorgeous Sunshine Coast, the 45 minute ferry ride and hour’s drive north of Vancouver, getting there is half the fun.

Opening in 1986, Pender Harbour Golf Course is another collaboration of founding members. A course architect was hired to do the routing but at the time, his suggestions were largely ignored. Most of what you see today was laid out by the founders. The course is now managed by an advisory board of golf passionate community members, and maintained by their golf course super intendant, Jason Haines.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of playing nine holes with Jason, who is steadily building a reputation as one of the more talented and innovative golf course super intendant’s around. Check out his blog at www.turfhacker.com for some great insights on the ups and downs of maintaining a golf course on tight budget. Jason also recently worked on the crew for the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay.

Pender Harbour offers great vistas, exciting tee shots and a surprisingly high level of golfing fun and quality. The first hole plays downhill to a fairway which tilts back up. You hit your approach uphill to a generous green on a top of a small hill. Its a pleasant start and eases you into the round. The second is a wonderful downhill par-5, reachable by long hitters but dense tree’s to the right will punish a wayward tee shot. The mid length par-3 third slopes gently back uphill to a tricky green with a false front.

Walking back to the fourth tee, you turn to see a daunting tee shot, up a very steep hill. Pictures do not do this hole justice, it is a brute, especially for players who struggle to hit a high tee ball. Once you drag yourself to the top, besides a great workout, you will be rewarded with an amazing downhill approach to a green located on the valley floor.  Its a beast of a par-five and probably not the fairest. This said, it is unique and in golf, unique often equals fun.

The next four holes pleasantly meander back and forth along the valley floor. A bubbling stream runs through the property, coming into play on three of the four holes and you really notice the trees and landscape surrounding you. Daily life seems a long way away on this portion of the course.

The home hole at Pender is wonderful par-4 running along the ridge. You hit a semi-blind tee shot to a fairway sloping gently downhill. Your approach is framed by a rugged slope to the right and trees to the left. The green is situated on a small plateau, guarded by a false front, with bunkers and a fall away to the right. It a great hole, one which truly fits the rugged landscape and leaves you excited to play more golf.

Given the limited resources of a small country course, the course conditions are much better than you’d expect. Jason has been experimenting with highly efficient mowing practices, limited fertilizer and pesticide applications, and have been trying to hard to do more with less. Recently he has been experimenting with the introduction of Bent Grasses into their mainly Poa greens, a practice not normally done on the cooler, damper west coast. It seems to be working and I was impressed with how well the ball rolled. With the recent droughts in BC and a new normal of water scarcity, the practices of Jason Haines and the Pender Harbour Golf Course are an example for other courses to learn from and strive for. Pender Harbour is a unique and enjoyable course, one you’ll look forward to playing again and again.