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Be amazed at Furry Creek

Get weather gripes into perspective
The view up the 18th fairway at Furry Creek lands on the clubhouse, where dinner awaits.

THE 2011 golf season in B.C. has, from a weather perspective, been disappointing to say the least.

Rain and more rain has led to cancelled rounds, disrupted foursomes and far too much time not playing golf. Zu viel, as the Germans would say, ist zu viel.

Yet there are worse things in a troubled world than poor golf weather. I was reminded again how fortunate we are to live where we do on a recent outing to Furry Creek.

I must admit, the grim forecasts had me in a bit of a funk. I had decided to shake myself out of it and take advantage of Furry Creek's Golf and Dinner program - twilight golf with a power cart and dinner for only $89 - and convinced my friend David Hanley to join me.

It was a Monday afternoon and the morning weather was dodgy; overcast with hints of a shower. Yet we met, loaded up and set off in the hope that somehow it would all come right.

On the way we chatted a bit. We hadn't seen each other in months and his girlfriend's father Harvey had passed away just days earlier. A remarkable man, his parting left a huge void in both their lives.

We drove through the spectacular wild beauty of Howe Sound, its primordial forests and craggy mountain tops still crowned with snow. There was an eternal quality to the landscape that stood in stark contrast to our brief ability to witness it. Harvey's witnessing days were behind him and it was left to us to carry on in his stead.

A little rain didn't seem such an inconvenience any more. The new highway meant that it was only 20 minutes from West Vancouver to Furry Creek's parking lot. That afternoon

there were a few out-ofprovince license plates, but it was mostly locals.

We were paired with Jim and Jennie Murray, an older couple from Dallas, Texas. They are regular visitors to B.C. and return as often as they can. Texas was in the middle of a drought and heat wave and the weather we groused about was a godsend to them.

There are few sights to compare with standing on Furry Creek's first tee: an unobstructed westward view down Howe Sound, its islands and the peaks of the Sunshine Coast. The clouds were breaking a little and rays of sunlight stretched down to the sea.

Jim and Jennie paused silently. They were big fans of Furry Creek and had played the course many times. For them the view from the first tee refreshed a cherished memory, to be summoned again when the drought went on too long or the temperature climbed too high.

For them, just knowing that such a place existed was a comfort and they laughed at my tales of earlier dismal weather. The further we played, the more the weather cleared and by the time we reached the par-5 sixth hole, the sun was out to stay.

Furry Creek's sixth is a 441-yard mountainside monstrosity and the first of the course's truly intimidating holes. There's a deep ravine at about 220 yards from the tee so laying up is a must. From there, your target is a small green at the end of a steadily narrowing stretch fairway. It's an exhilarating test of skill and focus.

The back nine began with the 122-yard par-3 10th. Standing on the green that day, we paused again to take in the astounding view. It was the glory of the first tee with a wider view and both David and I stood as silently as Jim and Jennie had been at the start of the round.

It was magnificent. The air filled with the scent of the woods - evergreen, wildflower and berries. Birds looped in the sunshine and their song drifted on the afternoon's rising breeze. The air was warm and relaxing was as natural as taking your next breath.

This was B.C. golf at its very best - an experience for all the senses distilled to create one brief period of magic. The dreary weather of the past six months was rendered irrelevant.

Jennie looked at the trees and marvelled at their size. Nothing nearly that big and lush at home, drought or no drought.

From there, the rest of the round was a series of moments: standing on the 14th green sticking out into the calm waters of the sound; the shadow-dappled fairways of the 15th and 17th holes; the view up the 18th fairway to the green and beautiful clubhouse beyond, bathed in the golden light of dusk.

After putting out we said our farewells. Jim and Jennie moved on to their next destination, but we were linked now by the intangible threads of shared experience. We were friends.

David and I retired to the patio of Furry Creek's Sea to Sky Grill for our meal. The sun was starting to dip below the mountains across the sound and, in the background, the rushing rumble of Furry Creek as it cascaded toward the ocean.

The Golf and Dinner menus feature a postround selection of burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, salads and lighter fare selected from the regular menu. As we settled in with a six-ounce steak sandwich and the Diablo pizza, we paused to reflect on the day and more. Robust flavours mingled with sounds, images and scents to create a multi-dimensional sensory experience.

We toasted our round, Jim and Jennie, each other and Harvey. Friends new and old, present and absent. In the end, a day that began with news of loss ended with a celebration of life: our own.

Of all B.C.'s gorgeous golf courses, Furry Creek captures the staggering beauty of this remarkable province in one location: mountains, oceans, rivers and endless ancient wilderness.

If you have visitors this summer and whether they golf or not, a trip to Furry Creek will etch itself in their memories for the rest of their lives. Go for golf, go for dinner or go just for the drive.

You may be amazed at what you discover.