Golf SWING EASY IN PEI
About Prince Edward Island
When it comes to golf, Canada’s tiniest province is (pardon the pun) no small potato. The island boasts more than 25 courses including many of the top 100 in Canada
When it comes to golf, Canada’s tiniest province is (pardon the pun) no small potato. The island boasts more than 25 courses including many of the top 100 in Canada. In 2009, PEI was the first Canadian province to host the Golf Channel’s Big Break reality series. Its world-class greens have also hosted masters such as Mike Weir, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Vijay Singh, Fred Couples and Prince Edward Island’s own LPGA professional, Lorie Kane.
With its fabulous fairways and bargain stay-and-play packages, golf might well become a greater draw for visitors than Anne of Green Gables and those postcard-perfect beaches. What’s especially nice about PEI is that nothing is too far away and the traffic jam has yet to be discovered so you’re never more than 45 minutes from an 18-hole championship challenge or duffer-friendly nine-hole tract. You might want to start your golf romp at the Fox Golf Academy, named Atlantic Canada’s Number One Teaching Facility. The Academy offers a variety of programs for swingers of all levels. The 3.5-hour Short Game School ($200) focuses on those critical chips, pitches and putts within 100 yards of the cup. Or consider the One Day School ($280) that includes 3.5 hours of instruction on the entire game, plus green fee, cart and lunch at the neighbouring Fox Meadow Golf Course. Fox Meadow is reputed to have the best greens on the island and it’s just minutes from Charlottetown.
The north coast of PEI, known as Green Gables Shore, defines the word bucolic: contented cows graze on rolling emerald pastures, houses are few and far between, pristine white churches with black steeples dot the countryside and the ocean is seldom out of sight. At Cavendish, beside the feisty fictional orphan’s famous Green Gables house, one of the island’s oldest and most scenic courses is receiving rave reviews. Green Gables Golf Course, designed and built in 1939 by the late Stanley Thompson, one of the world’ most renowned architects, re-opened in 2008 after an expenditure of five million dollars in renovations. Canada’s contemporary architect, Thomas McBroom, has blended his unique perspective with Thompson’s original concept by expanding the ocean views, reinstating original bunker designs and stretching the course from 6,459 to 6,874 yards. Eagles Glenn of Cavendish, by Canadian architect Graham Cooke, prides itself on its golfer-friendly playability. Clever mounding tends to feed errant shots back onto the fairways. It’s also very walkable. Each hole is named after a family that previously farmed this land. With luck you might run into retired RCMP officer, Benny McConnell and his horse, Goliath. Both were members of the Musical Ride. Now they patrol Eagles Glenn. After your round, help yourself to free steamed mussels.
Another neighbourhood favourite, Andersons Creek Golf Club, also designed by Graham Cooke, takes full advantage of a roller coaster terrain. The number four signature hole was modeled after number twelve at Augusta National in Georgia. The Creek comes into play on nine holes so bring lots of Titleists. To put you in an island mood, Andersons also dishes out complimentary mussels. You might even encounter a bagpiper on the 18th green. The newest addition to the Andersons Creek experience is The Gables of PEI. Designed with golfers’ needs in mind, each self-catering villa has two bedrooms with beds that can go together as kings or be pulled apart as twins, plus two bathrooms. Kitchen, living room with fireplace and covered patio with barbeque are all part of the package. Just up the hill from the New Glasgow Lobster Supper barn, the Glasgow Hills Resort & Golf Club offers sensational views of the River Clyde and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This 6,915-yard Les Furber design is a thrill from the top-of-the-world opening dogleg downhill left to challenging uphill eighteenth. Your round at Glasgow Hills will change any preconceptions you may have had that PEI was flat. The staff prides itself on giving guests a genuine island welcome—from greeting you in the parking lot and setting you up on a cart (you can walk but it’s a workout) to the complimentary, all-you-can-eat mussels served in Piper’s restaurant after your round. Glasgow Hills’ accolades include a four-star rating from Golf Digest and a listing in Canada’s top 70 golf courses from the readers of The Globe and Mail.
At the Brudenell Resort, Dundarave, designed by the award-winning team of Dr. Michael Hurzdan and Dana Fry, is the ideal course to hone your target skills or practice your sand wedge in its multiple bunkers. The course used to have about 100 sand traps but they’ve eliminated or shrunk about 20 of them and they’ve also cut down the fescue to speed up play. That said, if you can finish a game at Dundarave having avoided all that sand, it’s a commendable achievement. The course is deftly carved through forests so dense that at no point on the course can you see another hole. One of Dundarave's most memorable risk/reward moments is the par-four eighth, requiring a tee shot over a tidal marsh and an accurate second shot to the green as there is no wiggle room and only water at the back of it. The neighbouring Brudenell River Golf Course is the locals’ favourite. Broad fairways play around a series of picturesque lakes, ponds and lovely gardens. Six is the magic number here as the course has six par-threes, fours and fives. One of my favourites is number ten, aptly named Shimmering Waters. It’s a short par-three along the Brudenell River with a pond in front of the green. Club selection depends on the gusts from the river. Golf Digest Places to Play awarded The Links at Crowbush Cove four and a half stars and raved that the Thomas McBroom design is “golf at its absolute best.” Routed through 1000-year-old sand dunes on the Island’s north shore, each fairway presents its own unique series of challenges. There are nine water holes, plenty of pot bunkers and sudden gusts from Crowbush Cove. If you’re having an “A” day, a low score at Crowbush is an ego thrill; even if it’s more of a “D” day, you’ll still enjoy the spectacular links layout and seaside views. From the elevated tees at Sully’s Run, the challenging 565-yard par-five eleventh signature hole, you have a grand view of the beaches along the north shore. If you can tame the Links’ 6,903 yards, arguable the toughest on the island, you’ve earned bragging rights. Don’t leave PEI without taking a swing at Crowbush.
Golf on a Rainy Day Smack dab in downtown Charlottetown, The Holman Grand Hotel prides itself on its eco-friendly technology. Eighty modern rooms, some overlooking Charlottetown Harbour, feature spa-like bathrooms, luxurious bedding and free WIFI. The Holman also manages All About Golf, a unique concept comprising a golf retail store, sports bar with golf simulator screens and indoor putting green. With the click of a button you can play world famous courses such as Pebble Beach and Pinehurst Number 2 on the four HD Golf Simulators. Every tree, bunker and hazard is faithfully reproduced exactly as you would see it if you were playing the actual course. Once you’ve hit into the screen, the system measures your distance, club head speed and all sorts of other stats. On the lower level, you can hone your short game on the state-of-the-art indoor championship putting and chipping greens. The turf, invented by short game guru Dave Pelz, plays like bent grass. www.allaboutgolf.ca
One Stop Shopping with Golf PEI Build your own customized trip by selecting your dates, number of golfers, type of accommodations and tee times. Or check out their specials there are some great bargains. For example, their Fall Fore Golf package, starting at $289 per person, includes two nights accommodation and three rounds of golf.