COVID-19 Helps Create A New Back Nine At Pagoda Ridge

By BRAD ZIEMER, British Columbia Golf

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all golf courses to make significant changes in their operations in order to adhere to social distancing protocols, but none have made a bigger adjustment than Pagoda Ridge in Langley. 

Pagoda has changed the entire rotation of its back nine.

Anyone who has played Pagoda Ridge knows about the long trek between what used to be the 10th green and 11th tee. Since opening in 2012, a shuttle would transport walking foursomes on a long, winding path over a ravine between the 10th and 11th holes.

With new social distancing protocols, that shuttle could no longer be used. Players either had to rent their own carts or make the uphill journey on foot. Those that chose the latter option were definitely huffing and puffing by the time they reached the 11th tee. “It was a dilemma,” says general manager Larry Brown, whose family owns the golf course.

“We couldn’t do the shuttle and it’s a pretty good hike through there. A lot of younger folks can do it and I have done it, but I am sure not hitting a ball right away when I get to the top. We had quite a few issues over the years of carts getting out of control, so we thought it was a good time to change it.”

None of the actual holes have been changed in any way, but the entire routing of the back nine is new. The old No. 10, a driveable (for some) par 4, is now the new 18th hole. The new 10th hole is the old No. 14, a long par 4 with the course’s signature Great Wall of China on the left side.

The rest of the back nine is as follows: The former par 3 12th hole is now No. 11; the old No. 13 is the new No. 12; the old No. 11 is the new 13th hole; the holes formerly 15 through 18 are now 14 through 17. The course had to construct some new paths to move golfers more smoothly and has lots of new signs up to remind clientele of the new rotation.

“It has only been a few days since we have totally changed it over, but, touch wood, it seems to be working out pretty good,” Brown says. “Everyone seems to like it. We have had to train people to take the right route to get to the proper holes. When you finish nine, for example, we don’t want them to walk in front of what was the 18th green (now 17) to get to the new No. 10.

“The feedback so far has been totally positive and we’re wondering why we didn’t do it before. It is working out well. It’s just a matter of getting people trained to take the right way.”

New scorecards, with a course map on the back, have been printed. Course yardage, slope and rating have not changed. Business at Pagoda, like most everywhere else, is brisk. “We closed down for two weeks at the height of the COVID and we reopened April 10,” Brown says.

“It has been solid ever since. I can’t believe how busy it is. We have sure noticed a lot of new people out here and they are coming from a lot further away. We are getting players from the North Shore and they are coming out here more regularly.”

Click here to see Pagoda Ridge memo on re-routing.