Exploring Beach Grove Golf and Country Club

Tswawwassen, 6208 yards, par 71

October 2019

Quick Take: Bayside parkland course dating from 1929, the Golden Age of Golf Design. A shotmakers’ course where birdie chances abound, but so do trees, doglegs, bunkers and hard- to-discern breaks on crowned and quick greens. Possibly the best wintertime course in the region.

Zone 4 rotation: Annually hosts the first leg of our Senior Men’s championship in early April and other events as scheduled.

October 2019: In late September, the second last of more than two dozen 2019 Zone 4 tournaments was hosted by Beach Grove Golf and Country Club, and early next April the first leg of our Senior Men’s Championship will return there, as it has for several years. There’s a reason that Beach Grove is often called upon to host late and early events, which is that it’s widely recognized as the best cool-season course in the region.

Founded in 1929, and currently celebrating its 90th anniversary, Beach Grove is a highly walkable shotmaker’s course known for two memorable short par-4s and a profusion of tight, tree-lined fairways, along with some of the quickest, sneakiest greens in the country, many of them crowned. For elite players it’s a combination that leads to lots of birdies, but surprisingly tough scoring overall, especially considering that the par-71 course tips out at just over 6,200 yards. For others there is challenge aplenty but also a chance to score, with lots of greenside bunkers but few forced carries or design features intended to overcomplicate the game.

General Manager Chris Hugill recently arrived at the club after 15 years at Coquitlam’s Vancouver Club, so he knows what he’s talking about when he describes the markedly better golfing weather here on the lee side of the Tsawwassen Peninsula. “We are open 12 months of the year,” he says, “and conditions are good even in the dead of winter.”

Some of that is due to the local climate. Located so far from our own mountains and well within the rain shadow created by Washington’s Olympics and Vancouver Island’s spine, Tsawwassen’s less than 900 millimetres of annual precipitation is only a shade more than Victoria’s, about 80% of levels received in White Rock or western Richmond, and less than half that of areas such as North Burnaby, North Vancouver or Coquitlam. Average winter temperatures are also a degree or two warmer than in most other areas, which on a winter’s day can be enough to negate a frost delay or a dusting of snow.

But, says, Hugill, there are also a couple other explanations for the condition of the course—an ongoing commitment to improvement that has seen several holes reconditioned in recent years, and the longtime presence of superintendent Ian Murray, who in 2020 will be celebrating his 40th year at the club. “When I arrived here, he took me for a tour of the course,” says Hugill. “And I think he knows every tree by name.”

Beach Grove was originally launched as part of a land development, and to drum up business as the Roaring 20s turned into the Dirty Thirties, the developer at one point offered a free patch of dirt to anyone who would take up a golf club membership. With lots in the area now running in the vicinity of a million dollars, that’s not something the club can do today, but it has come up with some appealing offers that are generating both interest and new members.

A trial winter membership enables inexpensive winter golf for prospective members while a Twilight category does the same for those who wish to golf late in the day, but it’s a new Under 40 category that Hugill is most excited by. For a 20-year old this reduces monthly fees to just $50, an offer that has proved to be too good to refuse for a lot of young golfers. The category is currently filled, with a waiting list of more than 30. “Having so many younger members has really changed the dynamic of the club,” Hugill says.

- Jim Sutherland