Experience the love of the game with world-class courses and amenities at this Victoria golf destination
Words Tess van Straaten
Rob Larocque, director of golf at Bear Mountain Golf & Tennis Resort Community, started working in the industry when he was just 11 years old, and he’s been at home at fairways, greens and clubhouses ever since.
“I was cleaning golf clubs when I was 11 and I actually hired my friends to clean them too,” says Rob, now 54, with a laugh. “It was a little Tom Sawyer thing in Swan River, Manitoba.”
Rob quickly developed a passion for the game and became a golf professional close to 30 years ago.
“The biggest thing about golf is that it becomes part of a person’s DNA. It’s unlike any other sport or game and I love the intergenerational opportunities,” Rob explains. “You can have a foursome of golf with a 10-year-old, a 25-year-old, a 40-year-old and an 80-year-old, and they can all participate in the exact same format at the exact same time. There’s no other sport you can do that with. Everyone can compete at their own level, together, and I think that’s the most unique thing about our sport.”
Rob’s love and deep passion for golf is shared by the other pros at the world-class Bear Mountain. It’s Canada’s only 36-hole Nicklaus Design golf resort, and its unique Mountain and Valley courses are two of the most highly awarded courses in the country.
“There are so many things to love about the game,” says Bear Mountain head golf professional Jordan Murphy, who got his first set of clubs when he was a child.
“Seeing the enjoyment on our members’ and guests’ faces is so rewarding, whether they’re playing here at Bear Mountain for the first or 100th time. And, from an instructional standpoint, I love helping golfers of all ages and abilities achieve their goals.”
“I love the camaraderie between golf people,” adds Bear Mountain associate golf professional Lucas Nonni, who recently won the PGA of BC’s Jack McLaughlin Junior Golf Leader of the Year Award for the Vancouver Island region. “Everybody who is involved in the game has some sort of obsession with it—or maybe an addiction? Even new people who are just starting to get into the game—if they have the right atmosphere around them, it’s very easy to fall in love with it.”
The 29-year-old scratch golfer has been teeing off almost his entire life, after his dad introduced him to the game when he was just a toddler.
“I was two or three years old when my dad got me out on a golf course. Looking back now, I can’t believe he did that!” says Lucas, who is keen to grow Bear Mountain’s junior program. “I love inspiring the next generation of golfers and seeing people under the age of 18 getting into the game. I get a lot of satisfaction out of teaching kids about the beauty of this game.”
Bear Mountain is also enhancing its intermediate membership to make golf more accessible for younger adults.
“With COVID, a lot of new people were attracted to the game, and part of growing our demographics is keeping those people engaged. So, we’re happy to announce that we have an intermediate program for people aged 19 to 35 and it’s a stepping stone to a full membership,” Rob says.
“I’m very excited about that program because that’s the growth of the game and it’s an age group that’s often forgotten. We all talk about junior golf and adult golf, but as an industry, we often forget about those intermediate golfers.”
While some may think the only way to become a golf club member at Bear Mountain is to be a resident of the resort community, this is not the case. There are membership opportunities available for individuals, couples, corporate and intermediate players that do not require a property purchase.
“This allows more people to experience our 36-hole golf resort and all of our amenities, including our golf concierge service and GPS power carts, Canada’s largest indoor/outdoor red clay tennis courts, and the Bear Mountain Activity Centre with an outdoor pool, all in a temperate climate in Canada,” Rob says. “It’s pretty hard to find that anywhere else in Canada, for sure.”
“The ability to go out and play in January is something I’m still getting used to!” adds an enthusiastic Lucas, who grew up in Ontario. “It’s just a cool atmosphere to have golf year-round and it’s something I’m really enjoying here.”
For Jordan, who’s from Edmonton and started his career there, all of the amenities at Bear Mountain are a big draw.
“We have a pretty special property out here being one of the top resorts in Canada,” the 31-year-old says. “There are so many things to do at Bear Mountain outside of golf.”
Hosting two PGA Tour Champions events and the Telus World Skins Game put Bear Mountain on the world stage. It’s an anchor property for bringing destination golf and tourism to Vancouver Island. But the resort also hosts lots of other competitions, including BC tennis tournaments and the first-ever Indigenous Challenge Cup, a Ryder Cup-style match that saw BC and Ontario face off.
“I’m often asked, ‘What keeps your enthusiasm and your passion alive to be in one industry for such a long period of time?’” Rob says. “And this facility is what allows me to keep my passion growing. When you see somebody get here for the first time and they step onto the property and their eyes go big and their jaw drops, that’s pretty cool! We get to wake up every day and showcase a pretty phenomenal piece of property and a lifestyle that’s available if they choose to live here.”