|Thomas McBroom designed The Links at Crowbush Cove, which is arguably the most difficult PEI golf course. (Brandon Tucker/TravelGolf)|
CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island, Canada -- Prince Edward Island is home to a wealth of family-friendly, easy-swinging golf courses.
But that doesn't mean you can't put your golf game to the test. For buddies looking to win some Loonies off of one another the hard way, some golf courses here offer a real test from the tips.
If your golf game is in prime time, see how it fares against Prince Edward Island's toughest golf courses for low-handicappers.
The Links at Crowbush Cove boasts the destination's most spectacular coastal setting. The slanted trees and massive dunes are not-so-subtle signs that the wind can blow strong on the north shore.
With the island's highest slope/rating at 146/74.9, John Daly, Fred Couples, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh and Mike Weir have all competed on this Thomas McBroom design.
Not all of the par 5s at Crowbush are easy birdie opportunities, especially the fifth and 11th holes, which measure 605 and 595 yards, respectively. Each requires a long water carry to reach the green. The fifth plays out toward the coast, while the 11th plays from the coast back inland, so one is sure to play into a stiff headwind.
Even the short holes at Crowbush have teeth. The par-3 sixth green is wedged narrowly between water and sand, while the par-3 eighth is 200 yards of carry entirely over water. The 17th, despite playing just 113 yards, is a prickly little devil. Its green is entirely hidden off the tee. And if you don't find the crowned green, you may not find your ball.
The design team of Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry (who also designed future U.S. Open host Erin Hills) were called upon in 1999 to create Dundarave Golf Course, a challenging, modern layout to complement the classic Brudenell River Golf Course. They delivered with a layout that features holes framed on each side by forest, as well as huge, red-sand bunkers that make it a little tougher to go up-and-down.
At more than 7,200 yards with a 143/74.4 slope/rating, Dundarave's might is highlighted by what could be the toughest stretch of holes on the island -- Nos. 12-15 -- which consist of three par 4s that are more than 450 yards and a 223-yard par 3 that plays to a pretty small green.
Good putters will relish the fact that Dundarave consistently boasts the island's largest and quickest greens, promising a 10.5 Stimpmeter speed on its scorecard during peak season.
Masters of the uneven lie should press their bets on Prince Edward Island's most up-and-down golf experience, Glasgow Hills Resort & Golf Club. Set on some of the island's hilliest terrain, shots are played up, down and from side-hill lies. As the island's highest course, breezes off the coast can also be a little stronger.
Designed by prolific Canadian architect Les Furber, some holes encourage aggressive play, such the par-5 17th, which begs you to cut off the dogleg for a chance at reaching the steeply elevated green in two shots. Others, such as the par-3 13th that plays 240 yards to a green guarded in front by a stream, demand nothing less than a perfect strike.
Located within the Prince Edward Island National Park, Green Gables Golf Club offers a quiet, forested setting, but it's a real strong test between the trees. Toronto golf course designer and Golden Era legend Stanley Thompson originally designed Green Gables in 1939, and Thomas McBroom revamped the course in 2008.
Thompson's deep and artfully crafted bunkers, many of which were restored by McBroom, steal the show. In many cases, aggressive and long hitters who carry these traps off the tee will be rewarded handsomely with a short approach. The greens range both large and small, but they're always quick, and missing putts from above the hole can open the door to three-putts.
No par 3 plays shorter than 190 yards and three par 4s stretch beyond 450 yards, so there are plenty of chances to swing big. Green Gables closes with back-to-back par 5s, so you can make shots up down the stretch.
The host site of the Golf Channel's Big Break Prince Edward Island, low-handicappers will want to set up base on the island's west side for a round or two at Mill River Golf Course. The Robbie Robinson design winds tightly through mature forest and a mix of lakes and streams that defend fairways and greens. The layout, which boasts a 136/74.5 slope/rating, can stretch as long as 6,885 yards.
July 5, 2011
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
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