In the early 1900s golf was developing rapidly when James Dunsmuir, along with co-founder Joseph Sayward, got the idea of forming a new club. In the year 1913, the reigning B.C. Amateur Champion, Mr. A.V. Macan was given the task of designing the championship course. The course covers 135 acres, and is virtually unchanged in design from the original plans of 1913.


The Royal Colwood Golf Course offers members and guests six sets of tees to provide a good test of golf. Each set of tees can provide a challenging test to the golfer based on their ability. While the course offers challenges it is still an easy course to walk, and Royal Colwood members, young and old, still predominantly prefer to enjoy their course on foot.

A.V. Macan was not just a great architect, he was also a perceptive and accomplished writer, and so it is appropriate to use his own words as an introduction to the course:

“The Colwood course is difficult, though wherein the difficulty lies is rather hard to define. It is not
imaginary, as everyone who has played it has had the same experience. Difficult it is to score on, and while the holes in general are comfortably within the reach of two shots – there is only
one real three shotter – fives and even sixes keep appearing on one’s card. Even the four one shot holes do not seem to help as much as they should toward keeping somewhere near an
average of fours. While the bunkers from the tees are few, there are many clumps of timber within the reach of straying tee shots, so that while the course is by no means narrow, slices and hooks receive severe punishment. It’s what Bernard Darwin describes as a good Protestant course. You’re either in heaven or hell; there is no half way purgatory in the form of a too flattering rough. This may be the reason that the tee shots at Colwood seem to keep one in a perpetual state of anxiety over the imaginary evils that may happen to one if a shot goes badly astray. The greens are also closely guarded, and keen, so that no matter how one plays it is impossible to eliminate from one’s mind the thought of visiting the traps. Good bunkers insist on asserting themselves. They do not object to being avoided; but they refuse to be ignored. The Colwood bunkers are to this extent good – they are also deep, so that, unjust as it may be, a mistake does frequently cost more than the one stroke we consider equitable punishment.”

Macan’s design has provided one of the best expressions of the game by favouring thinking more than length and guile more than brawn. The challenges that players at Royal Colwood faced 100 years ago are the same that test golfers today – the ability to determine the best placement of the ball and then to execute the shot.

At its core, Colwood has retained the features and routing that Macan, intended and, perhaps of all of his courses, remains the closest to its original design. It was perfectly summarized by Macan himself when he wrote:

“What is a great golf course? I do not believe super tests of professional golfers’ skill is the answer to golf course development. Take care of the man who pays the bills, the very foundation of our clubs. The game as a spectacle may enable the select few to earn handsome incomes. It
even contributes much pleasure to thousands of spectators. It does not contribute one iota to the maintenance, the very survival of our clubs. Any great golf course must supply the maximum enjoyment to the mass of a club membership and is incidentally a fine test of golf.”

That is what Royal Colwood has always done, and always will do.

A round of 18 holes normally takes just less than 4 hours to complete.