Northlands, “where nature is your playing partner”. Surrounded by scenic views of the mountains, trees, man-made waterfalls and assorted wildlife, this golf course is sure to be a jam packed 4-hour adventure. Situated at the base of Mt. Seymour, just about every hole has elevation changes large enough to be described as more of a hike, so taking a cart is strongly encouraged. Beautiful lush fairways and fast greens give Northlands more of a private golf course feel but this is a municipal course and 100% open to the public. The course itself is filled with blind shots, deceivingly tiered greens and elevation changes that make Northlands an exciting challenge for your average golfer. If you’re up for it, this course is worth every penny.

*Blue Tee Yardages 

Hole 1

Par 4, 398 yards

With an elevated tee box overlooking mountains deep in the background, a fountain pond on your left and trees lined on your right, this beautiful scenic view competes against any other opening hole in BC. So too does the elevated tee shot, creating an intimidating opening shot. With a slight dogleg left, the 150 marker is your target right in the middle of the fairway. Put your first tee jitters aside and pull out driver here as leaving yourself short of the 150 marker can give a difficult second shot into the large, slightly elevated, tiered green. A par here is a great start to this challenging front 9.

Hole 2

Par 4, 318 yards

Short par 4 with a blind tee shot. No need to hit driver here, just lay up and favor the left side as going right will leave another blind shot into the green. If that is the case, pick out one of the trees in the background to line up the flag and give yourself a marker into the green. 

Hole 3

Par 3, 165 yards 

This hole starts the trend of downhill par 3’s on this course. Being a large green that is connected to the green on #1, make sure you take one less club here to accommodate for the downhill. The last thing you want to do is to be chipping all the way from the first green. Greens are heavily sloped, take your time to read the putt carefully to avoid a three-putt.

Hole 4

Par 5, 531 yards

This is Northlands’ signature hole, and the number 1 stroke hole on the golf course. It incorporates all of the different natural elements on this long, uphill par 5.  A pond must be cleared on your tee shot to reach a fairway guarded by 3 bunkers on your left side. Being uphill, this hole is definitely a 3-shot hole for your average golfer, so a mid-iron aimed at the beautiful man-made waterfall up the left side is all you need for a second shot. The green on this hole is a massive 3-tiered green that presents a 2- to 3-club difference from the front to back of the green. With this in mind for your approach shot, take note of where the flag is located as you do not want to find yourself on the wrong tier, putting downhill 70 feet. Occasionally, up by the green you may be greeted by some friendly deer, adding to nature’s experience on this spectacular hole.

Hole 5

Par 4, 410 yards

Another beautiful hole here that overlooks the mountains as you approach the fairway. 260 yards to the 150-yard marker here makes this quite the demanding tee shot, especially with trouble on both sides. Right side is where I found myself with no shot at the green and severely sloped chip out back into the fairway. My playing partner found himself way on the left side, dead in the middle of the trees. Apparently we wanted to test the trouble out for ourselves to see if it really was all that bad. Take our advice, a drive down the centre is crucial. For your approach shot into the green, a couple bunkers guard the front right as well as a bunker on the back left. Aim for the left side of the green as the ball will slope towards the right.

Hole 6

Par 4, 348 yards

A downhill tee shot with a couple of options. If you are a longer hitter, it will take 250 yards to safely carry the rock on the left. However, the safe play would be to lay-up just right of centre to give yourself a short second shot into the green. Your approach shot here will be another blind shot but keep in mind short will better than over the green and into the hazard. 

Hole 7

Par 4, 381 yards

Hole 7 is the first of the 4 holes that require you to keep your cart on the cart path at all times. A severe uphill hole with a blind tee shot up the fairway. An absolute monster of a rock hugs the left side of the fairway, making the fairway seem even more narrow than it already is. Fairway here is critical once again with hazards on your left and trees on your right. Up at the green, we have another 3 tiers to watch out for. Aim to give yourself uphill putts as finding yourself on the wrong end of the green here could leave you with an incredibly long downhill putt. Trust me, I know.

Hole 8

Par 3, 198 yards.

Another cart path-only hole which is a downhill par 3 that plays 10-15 yards less. Stay out of the bunker on the right at all costs as someone has left a large stump smack-dab in the middle of it. Behind the “stump bunker” is some shrubbery growing on a large rock, I know - I found it with my tee shot. Not fun. Aim for the left side of the green to avoid all of this trouble! 

Hole 9

Par 4, 395 yards

Large bunkers line both sides of the fairway and avoiding them is the key to making par on this hole. From the fairway the green is slightly downhill so take less club and aim for the middle of the green. After this challenging Front 9 you may be in need for a cold beverage so pull your cart alongside the halfway hut, gather your thoughts and back out to the more approachable Back 9.

Hole 10

Par 4, 310 yards

Size does not matter! This little 312-yard downhill hole packs a punch. Driver is not necessary here with water about 250 yards away, feeling more like 220 with the downhill. Anything around 200 yards in the fairway is ideal here to give you a short club over the water. Behind the green is Parkgate Park which is home to the local North Shore Twins baseball team. You may get a chance to meet them if you don’t club down and hit a wayward shot deep over the green. In the fairway, you will not have a flat lie to hit from at all. Align your body with the slope when playing these shots to help give you a shot at hitting this small green over the water.

Hole 11

Par 4, 375 yards

Fairway bunkers and trees on both sides of the 11th hole. The right bunker is fairly deep so aim your target a bit left of center. Green is slightly downhill from the fairway but well-protected by bunkers on the right and left. There is a false front that could send your ball back down the hill and off the green if you aren’t careful so make sure you get the ball up above the tier.

Hole 12

Par 3, 175 yards

Flattest hole on the course with bunkers to the left and behind the green. Nice little break from the elevation changes so don’t take this one for granted and aim for the centre of the green here to make par.

Hole 13

Par 4, 322 yards

Short dogleg left with an option of attempting to cut the corner and go for the green, but the more conservative play is with a long iron up the middle of the fairway. Definitely not the hardest hole on the course, so do not overcomplicate it. Bunkers are guarding the green all the way around, so aim for the middle of the fairway and give yourself a comfortable wedge into this hole.

Hole 14

Par 3, 175 yards

A fun, downhill par 3 that plays a club less than usual and also the last cart-path only hole. Left is trouble with out-of-bounds and trees along the side as well as a pond past the green. A miss on the right side is better but stay out of the thick fescue. The green here is two-tiered front to back that brings lots of slope into the picture. Relax and take your time to read the putt.

Hole 15

Par 5, 532 yards

Finally, the first par 5 since the 4th hole and the first of 3 to end the last 4 holes of this course. The #2 stroke hole on the course has trouble written all over it. A pond right in front of the tee box is the first hurdle to go over as a longer drive here is needed for a chance to go over the ravine on your second shot. 250 yards down the middle will give you about 170 to clear the “covenant area”. Once you are on the other side, it is all uphill and a blind 3rd shot into the elevated green. Anything short will leave you with a steep chip up back to the hole. All in all, a tough hole that demands 3 solid shots to achieve par or better.

Hole 16

Par 3, 150 yards

This is the easiest hole on the course, but you must take less club about 10 yards to account for the downhill. Although straightforward, I personally found the green very difficult to read. 2 of us had what looked like downhill putts that ended up halfway to the hole. You may have to do a full 360-degree view of the hole before you putt.

Hole 17

Par 5, 457 yards

This hole might be the best chance for a birdie on the course. A decent drive here can leave you well under 200 yards into the green. Focus on hitting a good drive over the ravine and aim it up the left-centre of the fairway to avoid the tree trouble on the right. With a pond up the left side for your second shot, aim for the right side of the green. If you do not feel comfortable, lay up to under 100 yards to give yourself an easy shot in. You should have a good look at birdie here when all is said and done.

Hole 18

Par 5, 489 yards

After your round, this is the hole that could very well be stuck in your mind for the rest of the day. An elevated tee box leaves you with about 270 yards to the “covenant area.” Longer hitters may be enticed to lay up with less than driver here to ensure your ball doesn’t enter the ravine. Once you are in the fairway take a club that you are comfortable with to clear the area. If you don’t make it over, you may find solace in that there are likely thousands of golf balls in there with yours. If you have made it over, up next is your last hike of the day which is about a 2-club difference up to the elevated 3-tiered green. Hopefully your ball is on the same tier as the hole or else a downhill put off the green is completely possible. Ask my playing partner on how to finish a round with a dented putter. Definitely a tough hole to finish a round but it is all part of the experience of playing at Northlands.

I had the privilege of playing my round with some senior golfers who have played courses all over the world and we all agreed that a huge plus about this course is that there really is never a dull moment. All the different aspects such as elevation changes, tiered greens and blind shots that make the course tough are also what makes the course so enjoyable.

Hitting downhill to greens where you have to make a call on your own club selection, or picking a point in the distance to blindly aim at genuinely brings a different feel to the game. From a golfer who has had a chance to play many different types of courses, this truly is a unique experience at Northlands that everyone from the average to avid golfer should play in their lifetime. 

Shaun Lum
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