The Pagoda Ridge golf course, which had its official opening on Aug. 17, one year after opening for business, has a fascinating back story.
The back story became obvious during the official opening, which was timed to tie in with owner Lyall Brown’s 80th birthday.
The Brown family were longtime residents of the Fleetwood area of Surrey and for many years operated a sawmill in Port Kells.
In 1979, Lyall and Verna Brown bought 160 acres at the top of the 264 Street hill, above Glen Valley.
While it was a long-term investment, it was also a popular gathering spot for the Browns, their children and grandchildren and many family friends. Stories of campfires, walks in the forest and Lyall Brown’s flying escapades (he has owned and flown fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter, and installed an airstrip on the property) were shared at the opening event.
A movie featuring Burt Reynolds was shot on the property as well.
In 1992, they received permission to put a golf course on the property — but it was a long-term project. Lyall, who loves to use all types of machinery, had started clearing the heavily-forested property in 1988.
Over the years, he built a long wall in the midst of the property. Today, it is one of the centrepieces of the golf course. It is modelled on the Great Wall of China.
The “great wall” at Pagoda Ridge Golf Course was a lengthy project of Lyall Brown’s, and helps define its Chinese theme. It is the midst of the course.
The Browns also built a replica Chinese junk, using wood from their mill. That greets visitors today as they pull in, and is used as a concession area, as it sits where the 9th and 18th holes connect to the parking area.
The Browns discussed the golf course idea for years, with son Larry, who is now the general manager, among the most enthusiastic. Friends contributed ideas on a possible layout, and the Browns had their own ideas, but one of the most fascinating ideas was to have the 10th hole extend right to the edge of the hill. There is a fantastic, signature view across Glen Valley, the Fraser River and onto various levels of hills and mountains north of the river. Once seen, it is not soon forgotten.
There was one problem with the idea to have the hole there — part of it was on neighbouring property. The idea sunk in with Lyall Brown though, and he bought the adjoining five acres to make the hole a reality.
Several years ago, work on the course layout began in earnest, with Terry Woodford designing the course.
Several hundred friends and family members came to the course on Aug. 17 to wish Lyall a happy birthday, tour the course and remember days gone by.
The four Brown children, Larry, Lenny, Lloyd and Tammy, and their families were on hand as well, along with Lyall’s wife and partner Verna Brown, who through all the family adventures has kept them grounded.
Pagoda Ridge is located at 7887 264 Street.