July 27, 2012
25 JUL 2012: Last year, the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) named Prince Edward Island "Winner Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year,” in its annual awards presentations. While PEI has been known nationally as Canada’s number one golf destination for years, now the rest of the world is privy to our little secret. Golf might well become a greater draw for visitors than Anne of Green Gables, lobster suppers and those postcard-perfect beaches.
If you’ve got a craving for fantastic golf at bargain prices and genuinely friendly Atlantic hospitality, pack your clubs and head east.
Actually, when it comes to golf, Canada’s tiniest province is (pardon the pun) no small potato. The island boasts more than 30 courses including ten of the top 100 in Canada. In 2009 PEI was the first Canadian destination to host the Golf Channel’s Big Break reality series.
What’s especially nice about PEI is that nothing is too far away and the traffic jam has yet to be discovered. All of the courses are within 90 minutes driving time from the centre of the island so you’re never far from an 18-hole championship challenge or duffer-friendly nine-hole tract.
The north coast, 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 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 a few years ago 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 7,000 yards.
In Cardigan on the eastern end of PEI, 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 100-plus bunkers.
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 moments is the par-four eighth, which meanders downhill towards the river with a deep ravine guarding the entire left side of the fairway.
The neighbouring Brudenell River Course is the locals’ favourite. Broad fairways play around a series of picturesque lakes and 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 to keep you on your toes.
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 this spectacular links layout. 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.
PEI was a pioneer in putting together golf/hotel packages at prices that seem hard to believe. But trust me, the golf is great and you’ll love the accommodations. That old expression - "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is" - does NOT apply to PEI.
Consider their Ultimate Golf Package. Starting at $719 per person (plus taxes) you get unlimited golf for seven days on the Links at Crowbush Cove, Brudenell River, Dundarave and Mill River (golf carts not included), six nights accommodation (based on quad occupancy) in the Brudenell Fairways Chalets.
For more information on PEI golf packages and events: www.golfpei.ca