Pagoda Ridge... Already Rich In History


Back in 1988 Lyall and Verna Brown decided to build a golf course transforming the land they owned into what would become one of the most fascinating and unique golf courses in British Columbia.

When they bought the large property from the Gibbson Brothers back in the 1970’s they learned that the property had a rich history of gold panning. The reason for purchasing such a vast piece of land was for Lyall’s love of flying; his dream was to have his own private landing strip. Throughout the years there have been many airplanes land on the strip that both Lyall and Verna cleared weekend after weekend with a picnic basket in hand and thermoses of water. He sold his first plane, a Piper, and purchased the 206 amphibious plane and had the hanger built which is now the Pagoda Building. After the amphibious plane was sold and the landing strip was no longer necessary, it was Lyall's son, Larry, who put forward the idea to build the golf course saying, "Dad, this would make a great golf course," essentially because 1) He liked to golf and 2) They couldn't do anything else with the property.

Along the way the family had to persevere the trials and tribulations that went along with gaining the necessary approval from the local municipality but after 7 years of being patient and persistent they finally had the go ahead to begin construction. Lyall with his family have been the heart and soul of the project, together they have truly made this a family affair. The golf course was a leisurely project developing over the past 22 years and has built up a family momentum that has made an impression on the result of the golf course.

The course became a full-on project when Lyall and Verna retired in 2008 from the sawmill business that they owned and operated for forty-six years. The culmination of years of blood, sweat and possibly a few tears, this 165 acre piece of property has now been transformed from a dense, bushy gold panning region to a landing strip for private aircraft to a now distinctive golf experience that will no doubt be a favourite local layout.

The golf course is designed by Woodland Golf and it was one visitor's view on a recent visit that the layout looks to be a premium one, taking full advantage of the landscape, carved through gently rolling hills and natural vegetation. Following the natural contours of the property the golf course also avails itself of the stunning views available of the Golden Ears mountains and the Fraser Valley below. A par 72 stretching to over 7,000 yards from the tips, Pagoda Ridge is set to host the Tour Championship for the Vancouver Golf Tour this fall and at this stage it looks like the course will be more than capable of providing both a strong test of skill and of concentration with the views at hand. There are several strong par fours in the layout and the fairways are well defined, with 55 bunkers and just enough water to balance the hazard/aesthetics quotient.

One of the most intriguing holes has to be the par 4 10th, which is slated to play at slightly less than 300 yards, with a green perched on a peninsula overlooking the Fraser Valley. It is a true risk/reward type hole that will vie with several others for the tag of 'signature hole' on this course. One wondered, was the 'Asian Infused Architecture' as it is referred to on the Pagoda Ridge website, borne of any family heritage or particular traveling experience? No…. according to Lyall Brown, he and his wife Verna, "Just happen to like Asian architecture... and the colours."

This affinity is exemplified by the Pagoda-style starting shack and pro-shop/clubhouse. And the authentic Chinese fighting ship that floats between the 9th and 18th holes seems the perfect fit housing the snack bar as well as offering a prime viewing area of the home hole. The Oriental theme is carried nicely throughout the property including the Buddha that greets guests as they pass through the entrance gate. But without doubt the most intriguing feature on the golf course is the replica Great Wall Of China that runs through the centre of the layout. There's no questioning the commitment to authenticity and quality in both the design and construction of the course, certainly not judging by the cost of building the signature Great Wall alone as it approached half a million dollars. Even at this early stage there is a feeling of serenity and an almost mystical atmosphere at Pagoda Ridge. As it stands, there is at least one recent visitor who is truly anxious for this Asian delight to open its gates for all to enjoy.