Swills and Swings in Kamloops


By the fourth tee I was parched. Damn near dehydrated. I had twenty-two bad swings under my belt and my ball, even with the tongue lashings, was being belligerent. I needed to turn things around. I needed a miraculous cure for my predicament. “Here,” said the kind soul wheeling around in the beverage cart, “this should do the trick.” She handed me a can of Red Bridge Pale Ale from Iron Road Brewing. Presto! The magic elixir worked.

Disclaimer: beer, for me, is not a prerequisite for good swings and good times on the golf course. But it can help. And when I’m on a golf getaway in Kamloops (one of my favourite golf destinations in Canada) swinging and swilling seem to work rather nicely together.

With or without a cool and crushable one in my hand, touting the virtues of the golf and beer scene in Kamloops comes easily for me. I have, genuinely, grown to love the place for both. (For the record, I also like Kamloops for its warm climate, awesome mountain biking, gorgeous wineries, exquisite lakes, and the list goes on!)

But, unquestionably, the handful of outstanding courses that twist along the Thompson River and parade through the sage-smothered hills above town is the major draw. Thanks to world-class courses such as Tobiano and Talking Rock, a multi-day trip to Kamloops has become a yearly tradition for me. And sometimes, depending on the severity of my thirst and how many other hackers I can stash in my backseat, I’ll make the trip twice a year from my homebase in Calgary. The destination is that good.

Speaking of that thirst, each time I go to Kamloops there seems to be more and more options and opportunities to quench it. (If it hasn’t already been quenched on the golf course!) Like a lot of people, both visitors and locals, my first foray into the exciting craft beer movement in Kamloops was at The Noble Pig. A downtown establishment that prides itself on its exquisite fusion of craft beer and delicious locally-inspired cuisine, The Noble Pig is easily one of the classiest – yet most approachable! – breweries I’ve been to in the country. (And I’ve been to a few.)

Of course, The Noble Pig is far from alone when it comes to great places to unwind and tilt one back after golf. Kamloops has five craft breweries and they each have their own unique character. Bright Eye Brewing tees up a cool vibe and is the newest to the brew scene in Kamloops, Iron Road Brewing (yes, their pale ale is one of my all-time favourites due to its superior thirst-quenching nature and swing-lubricating ability), Alchemy Brewing, and Red Collar Brewing.

In terms of the golf, Tobiano – with its glorious lakeside setting just west of town – is tough to top. This is, rightfully, often considered the best public-access golf course in all of British Columbia. It’s simply phenomenal. A round at BC’s highest elevation golf course, Sun Peaks, is a must where my golf ball appreciates the extra boost of flight. But I’ve always loved the playability and parkland charm of the Kamloops Golf Club. It’s sneaky good. And the riverside setting at both The Dunes and Rivershore is top shelf. And, finally, the beautiful mountainside appeal at Big Horn and Eagle Point punctuates the point in terms of how good the golf in Kamloops truly is. So, yes, make no mistake, I’ll happily play anywhere in Kamloops. Especially if there is some beer involved.

Andrew Penner is a freelance writer and photographer based in Calgary. You can follow him on Instagram @andrewpennerphotography.

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