CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Imagine a summer day in golf heaven.
Can you envision Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province, but one of the globe’s most beautiful ocean and pastoral settings, with a “To Do List” that will rival any vacation destination?
There’s seaside beauty found here (just north of Halifax, Nova Scotia) in red cliffs and pathways, ocean coves, white sand beaches, a chorus of green in the fairways, brush and trees plus a bounty of seafood that includes lobster, mussels, crab, and many varieties of oysters.
Fishing villages are always just around the next bend. And there’s rolling farmland where canola and potatoes are harvested each year and cattle graze in a nearby pasture.
Golf is abundant — 25 courses for all levels of player. There are friendly people to be paired with, and a favorable rate of exchange from the strong American dollar.
PEI may be small but it has the most golf courses per capita — 438 fairways in only about 150 miles from end to end.
Terry Hamilton, The Links at Crowbush Cove’s golf shop supervisor, says it best: “The beauty of golf here is you don’t hear traffic, you feel the breeze, smell the ocean and can even almost taste it. Prince Edward Island may be small with 140,000 residents, but we have more than a million visitors a year. And the people of PEI and the golf professionals are friendly and inviting.”
Let’s highlight four of the options on PEI.
The Links at Crowbush Cove
Probably the most scenic and highest-ranked of the island courses, Crowbush, opened in 1994, is stunning visually, but formidable if the elements kick in with wind and rain. Woodlands, wetlands and dunes all come in to play.
At 6,903 yards, par 72, this Thomas McBroom design has hosted numerous professional tournaments, including a Canadian Tour event that had to be stopped because the wind was blowing so hard. It also hosted a Skins Game in 1998 John Daly, Mark O’Meara, Fred Couples and Canadian Mike Weir participating. Daly in that swashbuckler state of mind drove golf balls off the 17th tee toward the ocean.
Trademark holes abound, but Hamilton looks to No. 16 that’s right along the ocean, uphill, requiring a tee shot of 180 yards over water. The approach requires an exact shot to a small green, but the reward is a beautiful view of beach, where a campground once existed. Hamilton says enjoy the view, but don’t be long on this 360-yard hole.
Dundarave Golf Course
This red sandstone 7,089-yard, par 72, was designed by award winning architects Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry and opened in July of 1999. It hosted the 2006 Legends of Golf featuring Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.
Holes use the Brudenell River for awesome views and traditional and contemporary architectural designs flow with memorable rust-colored bunkering. Fairways are wide, lined by pines, and nature is foremost here.
Dundarave is an integral part of the Rodd Brudenell River Resort 36-hole complex. It is located beside another golf gem, Brudenell River, where LPGA Tour Player Lorie Kane’s dad was the first golf professional.
Glasgow Hills Resort & Golf Club
Les Furber, a western Canadian designer, was chosen to route Glasgow Hills and he accentuated the dramatic views of the River Clyde and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is an outstanding setting in which to play. The undulations, muscular bunkers and water hazards will challenge the best golfers.
This award-winner opened in 2001 also uses elevation changes to make things even more interesting. The 367-yard dogleg par-4 ninth requires a layup before taking on an island green.
The 19th hole is special. The restaurant named Piper’s at Glasgow Hills offers unlimited complimentary mussels — a mollusk that PEI is famous for.
Green Gables Golf Club
When in Canada you must play a Stanley Thompson designed golf course. Green Gables was routed in 1939 and later updated by McBroom, who added length to the course.
This classic is situated with a backdrop of sand dunes in Prince Edward Island National Park, along with the fictional home from the novel “Anne of Green Gables”, which at one time had the 12th green near its yard. It was later rerouted because hordes of visitors were just a bit too close to flying golf balls.
This 6,874-yard, par 72, has tricky greens, deep bunkers with brawny faces, six water holes, and ever-shifting ocean breezes.
The view from the 3rd tee overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence is worth the green fee. My favorite hole is the 453-yard, par 4 13th that trundles downhill. Use the speed slot over the tough left bunker complex and you can have a 300-yard drive.
Prince Edward Island’s off-course menu
Seeker of lighthouses can visit more than 25 on PEI with some dating back to the 1850s. Also visit Rustico Wharf and National Park and take the Top Notch Lobster Tour, a fishing boat history lesson that includes a visit with a 25-year-old, 10-pound lobster. The evening concludes with a lobster meal on deck.
Many want to base their golf trip in Charlottetown, considered the birthplace of Canada. Named for Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, the town of 35,000 is easily walkable, especially to places like Peake’s Wharf Historic Waterfront (1864), which consists of more than 20 shops and restaurants.
Walkers and bikers will enjoy the Confederation Trail that follows an abandoned rail line from one end of the island to the other.
Dining, drinks and atmosphere? Don’t miss Gahan House and its brewery, Peakes Quay, and Sims Corner Steakhouse & Oyster Bar, known for incredible beef raised on the island. At Claddagh Oyster House the food doesn’t disappoint and upstairs is Olde Dublin Pub, where you can hear live Irish music.
How do PEI residents like to get their sporting and gaming fix on during the summer? How about harness racing at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino?
Dine at Top of the Park Restaurant, overlooking the Charlottetown Driving Park. This three-tiered dining room offers a spectacular view from any table. VIP experiences include rides in the starting gate car — now that is memorable. Wonder if Queen Elizabeth took on the ride when she visited in 1951?
Is that enough for a “To Do List” summer vacation? If not you are a serious grouch.
For more visit:
Story by David R. Holland