PEI Is Simple Perfection
by Lisa Vlooswyk
As a golf writer I have the good fortune to be able to travel and play some of the most amazing courses in the world, and yet, I find myself coming back time and time again to play the spectacular courses across Canada.
One of my favourite places to tee it up is Canada's 'pint sized' province, Prince Edward Island.
Measuring only 224 km long and from 6-64 km wide, it offers thousands of yards of glorious golf.
There are over 30 courses on PEl, 10 of which rank on Canada's Top 100 Courses.
On my most recent trip to the island I stayed at Rodd Brudenell River, a signature Rodd resort (www.roddvacations.com).
It is a peaceful setting on the eastern side of the island 30 minutes from Charlottetown.
It is located in Brudenell River Provincial Park and in addition to golf, offers a host of activities such as indoor/outdoor pools, saunas, whirlpool, marina, bike trails/rentals, sea kayaking, windsurfing, canoeing, horseback riding,lawn bowling and tennis.
The Main Hotel features 67 deluxe guest rooms, 18 junior suites,and 14 larger hospitality type suites and 16 two bedroom cottages.
Dining options include club 19, open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner with views of the golf course and Stillwaters, a fine dining restaurant offering delectable fare. I highly recommend sitting outdoors if it is a warm evening and have a spectacular meal looking over the Brudenell River.
As for the golf there are 3 courses on property. The Divine Nine, a par 30, fun 9-hole track perfect for juniors, beginners and those wanting to work on their game.
For those looking for championship golf there are two 18-hole tracks, Dundarave Golf Course and Brudenell River Golf Course.
Dundarave is known for its spectacular and penalizing bunkers. Avoid them at all costs. It is also revered for its quality greens, often some of the purest, smoothest running greens on the island.
You must take a cart due to some of the long treks between holes but it affords you the opportunity to see more of the breathtaking property.
There are many risk reward holes making it a new and unique challenge every time you tee it up.
The fairways are lined with pines giving you the feeling several times throughout the round you are the only one on the course.
Truly a course fit for champions, in 2006, Dundarave hosted 'The Legends of Golf' featuring real life pals Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson as they duelled it out in front of a live gallery.
To have one championship course on site at a resort is a treat but to have two is just decadent.
I am a fan of playing 36 holes a day, and whether you are a fair weather golfer, a replay player or one who loves to see 36 different holes in one day a stone's throw from your bedroom, this is the resort for you.
The second 18-hole track is Brudenell River. It was the first course on property opening in 1969. This is often heralded as one of the most popular courses on the island for its unique layout of six par 3's, six par 4's and six par 5's.
It is a picturesque course with many stunning views of the Brudenell River accentuated by ponds and gardens throughout. It is simply a fun track.
It has generous fairways and what you see is what you get. There are great scoring opportunities and it will challenge every level of player.
Many pros have tested their game here including the 'Lorie Kane Island Challenge' in 2000 and numerous Canadian Tour events.
After golf you have to go to the clubhouse and head to the patio. I had my most memorable post-game snack after this round. My playing partners, who were islanders and in "the know" ordered a pitcher of cold beer and a bucket of muscles.
Although I am a born and raised land-locked Albertan, I have had my fair share of scrumptious seafood. Nothing touched this. This, by far, was the best golf snack ever. So fresh and just so "close-your-eyes-take-a-deep-breath-in" delicious.
That is what makes PEl such an ideal golf destination vacation. In addition to spectacular golf in PEl there is also fabulous food, entertainment and seafaring adventures.
You would be remiss if you didn't head out onto the high seas while on the island. No place in the province is more than 16 km from the ocean.
I ventured onto a vessel with Tranquillity Cove Adventures located a short drive away from the resort in a quaint village called Georgetown.
They offer several packages including Clam Digging, Deep Sea Fishing and Bird Watching cruises where you are guaranteed to see a bald eagle.
My favourite package was the "Live the Life of an East Coast Fisherman". You go lobster fishing with a 3rd generation lobster fisherman.
The adventure starts before daylight and you don all the gear and work as a 'cork' for the day (the island name for a lobster fisherman's helper). You haul in 300 traps and re-bait and set them back in for the next days haul.
You see fascinating sea creatures that weaselled their way into the trap and find out how to properly weigh and process lobsters. Unfortunately my visit was out of lobster season and thus I did the Deep Sea adventure.
I was the first one on board to have a "fish on" and I fought a hard battle to bring it in, rod bent in a precarious arch.
When I finally pulled it out of the icy waters, the smallest mackerel you've ever seen was on the end of my line. Those in my party chuckled and I brought a whole new meaning to the term "holy mackerel'.
It was such fun and in addition to the big catch I had a chance to touch and hold a variety of sea creatures including crabs, lobsters and muscles. (www.tranquilitycoveadventures.com)
Since I would have starved on my catch for the day I went to a fabulous quaint restaurant in Georgetown called Clam Diggers Beach House and Restaurant where I had a proper seafood meal that was to die for (www.clamdiggers.ca).
There is a cozy patio with a beautiful view of the ocean. Try to plan your meal for sunset for the ideal ambiance.
After my trip to the east end of the island I headed back towards Charlottetown to play one of the most famed courses on the island, the Links at Crowbush Cove.
This course is one of my favourites. Located directly on the ocean, this track gives you that European links golf feel. The course is peppered with tricky and treacherous pot bunkers and like many links courses play is affected by wind coming off the sea.
There are numerous elevation changes offering panoramic views of the course and undulating fairways that require players to think their way from tee to green. It is a very long day if your driver is wayward as accuracy on many holes saves a lost ball.
The most challenging hole in my estimation is #8. This is a tough par 3 surrounded by marsh and wind commonly playing a factor.
My favourite has to be #15 a downhill par 4 with an elevated tee and beyond the green is the ocean. It is a visually spectacular hole and gives you a good shot at birdie.
There is a well-equipped pro shop and a perfect after-round treat is a cold beverage and a lobster sandwich on the deck upstairs overlooking the course.
After golf head over to Charlottetown to the flagship store for COWS ice-cream.
Known for its all-natural ingredients this may be one of the best cones you've ever had.
With over 32 flavours you are bound to find one to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Another must is the Anne of Green Gables Musical at the Confederation Centre Of The Arts.
This is a delightful lighthearted experience that will make even the most masculine golfer hum a ditty.
Other notable tourist stops include 1,100 kms of shoreline and fabulous beaches and red sandstone cliffs.
Also check out some of the dozens of lighthouses that dot the coastal shoreline. If you want an iconic maritime picture, you need to include this in your album.
A must do is a gluttonous stop at one of the many delicious Lobster Suppers on the Island where you dine with plastic checkered table cloths in a barn-type atmosphere and eat some of the most delicious potatoes, muscles and lobster you are ever going to get your hands on. Don't forget to wear your bib!
PEl is a golf wonderland for visitors offering all of the amenities of a true vacation. It is perfect for buddies, families and couples. If you do enjoy golfing with your spouse consider signing up for the Couples Festival July 15-19, 2012.
It is a fabulous way to meet couples from around the world who love this great game and to experience all the wonders of PEI (www.waggletravel.com).
PEl is bucket-list worthy. Period.
About the writer:
Lisa is the 7-time Canadian Long Drive Champion and ranked #2 in the world. She can be reached through her website at www.lisalongball.com