This unique area, called the Okanogan Valley (spelled Okanagan north of the border), receives more than 2,000 hours of sunshine annually, and is Canada’s only desert region. It’s a huge draw with Canadians, and serves as a playground for Canadians and international visitors alike. The town of Osoyoos sits just over the border in British Columbia, while Oroville is its neighbor four miles south of the border in Washington.
The area’s showcase course is Osoyoos Golf and Country Club. In August, it expanded to 36 holes and now features the Park Meadows Course along with the new Desert Gold Course. When you first drive up to the clubhouse you will swear this beautifully groomed golf and country club is private. But fortunately for visitors, both courses are open to the public. The venerable Park Meadows Course offers its share of great scenery and excellent golf. The par-72 course stretches from 5,262 yards to 6,359 yards with several holes providing picturesque views of Lake Osoyoos. The classy Desert Gold Course is a par 71 that will test your target-landing golf skills. The course measures from 4,924 yards to 6,500 yards, featuring views of the lake, orchards, and desert landscape.
Another classy golf offering in Osoyoos is the nine-hole Sonora Dunes Golf Course. The desert setting of the golf course is magnificent; there’s natural beauty all around. The par 35 measures 2,600 yards. The recently built 2,150-square-foot clubhouse offers covered patios and open deck areas overlooking Lake Osoyoos.
A few miles north of Osoyoos is the town of Oliver, the self-proclaimed “Wine Capital of Canada.” There are nearly 50 wineries in British Columbia, and more than a dozen in the Oliver area. There are two very nice golf courses in town: Fairview Mountain Golf Club and Inkameep Canyon Desert Golf Course. Fairview Mountain was established in 1925 and has undergone several transformations to become the course it is today. Score Magazine has rated Fairview Mountain No. 18 on its list of top 100 golf courses in Canada. The par-71 Fairview Mountain Golf Club measures 6,151 yards. The Clubhouse restaurant is also a favorite.
Inkameep Canyon Desert Golf Course is a stunning 18-hole par 72 that measures 6,835 yards from the tips. Owned and operated by the Osoyoos Indian tribe, the course was expanded to 18 holes in 2001. In addition to three full-length practice holes, there’s also a driving range with 18 covered stalls and five target greens.
Back in the U.S., RV-golfers will enjoy the challenging Oroville Golf Club. The nine-hole course measures 2,959 yards, and is truly one of the most scenic golf venues in the state. The course hosts the annual Groundhog Open in August, honoring the ubiquitous creatures that inhabit rocks near the course.
Less than an hour’s drive from Oroville is another nine-hole course worth visiting. The Okanogan Valley Golf Club between the towns of Omak and Okanogan measures 6,100 yards and has double tees. There’s lots of picturesque scenery at this nine-hole course, and overnight camping is allowed, though there are no hookups. Every year in August, the course hosts the town of Conconully’s Grubstake Open golf tournament. It’s a fun event and features prizes and a steak dinner.
In addition to the numerous wineries in the area, another stop during your visit to the Okanogan region should be the Osoyoos Desert Centre. This interpretive education and research facility features a mile-long boardwalk that gets you up close and personal with the intimate beauty of the desert. Whether it’s the sun, the golf, the water or the wine, the desert region of Osoyoos is a unique destination anytime of year.
The 19th Hole (and a few chip shots)
From the “How do they think of this stuff?” file comes a story from South Korea. Recently, officials at Samsung developed an electronic gadget that is not only a phone and a personal music player, but also doubles as a golf caddie. The model SCH-B570 features 8 gigabytes of storage for music. But if playing a round is preferable to playing music, the phone has the information needed to tackle South Korea’s toughest golf courses. It incorporates a GPS receiver, which determines how far you are from the green, then suggests an appropriate club. It also features TV reception, motion-controlled games, and, rather strangely, psychological tests. Apparently, the latter is included so you can figure out what the heck you’re doing on the golf course with this thingamajig in the first place!
And finally, from our annals of “Wow!” moments: Earlier this year, a Georgia husband and wife each shot a hole in one during the same round of golf. Hank Maxwell aced the 140-yard par 3 with a seven iron, while Debbie Maxwell followed with an ace on the par-3, 113-yard 17th hole using a pitching wedge at the Traditions of Braselton Golf Club in Gwinnett, Georgia.
Rick Stedman is an avid RVer, golfer and writer who lives in Yakima, Washington. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org