When I was speaking with Dave Corke, Operations manager at The Falls Golf Club in Chilliwack, one of his first comments was “we are open for business.”
Not surprising, considering the course went through bankruptcy protection in February 2011 and closed for 18 months. It was reopened in July 2012 by the new owners, Aquilini Investment Group. If the name Francesco Aquilini sounds familiar, it’s because he and his family also own the Vancouver Canucks.
The Falls is located in the foothills of Mount Cheam, 10 kilometres east of Chilliwack, B.C., just off the Trans Canada Highway. Views of the snow-covered peak of Mount Cheam at 6,903 feet make this a beautiful location for a golf course.
To deal here with past litigation and the dreams of the first owner Rick Wellsby would be counter-productive. Corke illustrated his philosophy about the past when he said, “we do not dwell on the past legal problems, but look ahead.” The golf course, once the site of a Girl Guide camp, has emerged with a bright future.
A hidden treasure
The Falls always has been a unique golf course. It opened in 1996 consisting of two distinct parts. The first 14 holes are carved out of the mountain topography and the last four holes follow along the floor of the Fraser Valley. There is a 750-foot drop from top to bottom, with some incredible golf holes in between.
The course was designed by golf architect Ted Locke, who also redesigned Tsawwassen Springs. The National Post Golf Preview in 2003 described The Falls as “one of the top ten hidden treasures in Canada.”
Views from the course of the Fraser Valley have been described as spectacular, breathtaking, striking, awesome and captivating, just to use a few adjectives. The Falls is more than a golf course: it’s also a beautiful place for weddings or weekend stay-and-play packages. A residential community with 80 single family homes overlooking the golf course is located between the first and 13th holes. Aquilini Investment Group has plans to build another 500 homes as well as make improvements to the course and facilities.
Of the 18 holes, ten have elevated tee boxes with a good view of the fairway. There are five par threes, varying from 146 to 224 yards from the back tees. The opening hole is a par three at 224 yards and it is necessary to keep the ball left. The first three holes are not overly difficult, allowing the golfer to get off to a good start.
Holes 6 and 8 look very similar, at 317 and 345 yards downhill with well-situated bunkers. Leave your driver in the bag. Holes 3 and 13 are doglegs left and without a good drive 13 can result in a blind downhill shot to the green. Holes 5 and 7 at 450 and 572 yards are very narrow, with No. 7 the number one handicap hole.
Hole 11 is the signature hole, a par five at 567 yards. From the back tees the ball drops 300 feet to the fairway. This hole has been called one of the best par fives in the province. From the top tees, a gorgeous view of the Fraser Valley is before you. I love the No. 14 hole, a short par three, 154 yards over a cliff.
The last four holes are on the valley floor, with water bordering all holes. They may appear easy, being relatively flat, but Hole 16 is 612 yards long—with the last shot over water. The four holes total 2,086 yards or nearly 32 per cent of the entire course. Only holes 16 and 17 are considered risk and reward holes, if you want to reach the green in two. The waterfall after which the course is named is located along the last hole. As for the greens, some are tiered, all are undulating and well bunkered and most break to the valley.
Going back up
When I was driving home, the origin of the name Chilliwack came to mind, It means “going back up,” referring to the Sto:lo Indians who went back up the Fraser River to spend their winter in the Fraser Valley. Without a doubt, going back up to The Falls is essential.
Dave Corke was correct when he said, “Do not take your round too seriously. You are here to have fun.”
Our four-hour and ten-minute round of golf provided plenty of fun.
The Falls Golf Club in Chilliwack, BC. We also host weddings, banquets and all golf-style events, including golf tournaments.