Golf Article

Prince Edward Island Revisited

Prince Edward Island Revisited.
By Peter Hellman

When I wrote my first article about PEI a couple of months ago, I had not been there.  But now that I have, I am even more excited about the place.  I flew from Denver to Charlettown, capital of the island in July.  It is an easy one-plane change in Detroit.  Though you arrive late according to local time (three hours ahead of Denver), it takes only minutes to get to town.  I stayed at the Delta Prince Edward a perfectly nice property, though a bit too corporate for me.  I had a chance to tour the Great George Hotel, a smaller boutique property that is comfortable and welcoming and more to my liking. 

There is much to do and see in Charlottetown and it's well worth staying a night or two.  A good golf course, Fox Meadow Country Club, lies just outside the city.  Though private, it welcomes visitors.  Stay for dinner.  The food and service are excellent.  While in Charlottetown, you should also try a lobster and mussel dinner at the Lobster on the Wharf.  The lobsters are locally caught and the mussels are grown and harvest here as well.  They grow in elongated socks suspended above the bottom of the island's many bays.  The tidal flows are necessary to nourish the young mussels.  The socks hang from poles lined up in perfect rows their white tops reflecting the sun.  Because the mussels never touch the bottom, they are free of sand and have the most delicate taste.  Much of the richness of the sea is due to the Gulf Stream, which embraces this island before it heads out across the Atlantic increasing water and land temperature beyond what one might expect this far north.  Along with potatoes, mussels are PEI's biggest export.

Speaking of mussels, one of the most charming traditions at some golf clubs involves mussels.  Instead of salty peanuts, some clubhouse bars provide complimentary mussels self-served out of large vats.  What could be better than a pint of local brew and a large bowl of sweet mussels?

Since I am on the subject of food, I must tell you about a memorable meal I had at the Rodd Crowbush Golf & Beach Resort.  One evening, guest of the hotel were invited to a lobster and mussel dinner on the beach.  A welcoming tent served as our dining room.  Freshly chucked oysters and cocktails preceded a repast of steam mussels, corn on the cob and lobsters.  From there, we retired around an immense beach fire to listens to two brothers play accordion and violin while singing island songs of seamen and farmers.  It was a perfect way to sample the local culture.

Crowbush should be your second stop on the island. The resort's course, the Links at Crowbush, and the modern hotel and cottages are first class.  Crowbush was my favorite of the courses I played.  Though parts of it are on the water and there are dunes between the course and the water, the course does not feel like a links track.  For one thing, it is hilly, has small lakes and marshes and away from the water, the fairways are sheltered by a thick forest.  I loved the wide fairways, spacious but tricky greens and the views.  There are no houses along the fairways to spoil the view or grab your ball - just an occasional fox. 

About a half hour south are two sister courses worth playing - the Dundarave and the Brudenell River Courses.  Each has well laid out fairways and greens and, though not along the ocean, they sit along the pristine Brudenell River.  Because of their proximity to each other, the Dunarave and the Brudenell are an excellent choice for a 36-hole day. 

After a couple nights at Crowbush, we moved a bit west to Stanhope, which is an good spot to stay while playing area courses such as Green Gables, Anderson Greek, Eagles Glen and Glasgow Hills.  I played Eagles Glen though rain and lightening kept us from finishing.  With huge elevation drops and rises and interesting doglegs, it was a fun experience, but I wouldn't recommend walking it.  Glasgow Hills is another good test with significant elevation changes and great vistas over the island.  The Stanhope Hotel, by the way, is a charming beautifully restored 18th century inn.  With good service, charming antique-filled rooms, comfortable little sitting areas, an excellent kitchen and a small intimate bar frequented by hotel guests and locals, Stanhope has much to offer the weary itinerant golfer. 

I intend to return to PEI and I hope you will too.  Whether you travel as couples or as a  group of guys or gals, you should consider PEI.  This tiny bit of Canada has it all - excellent courses, good accommodations, fabulous food, friendly welcoming people and low costs.  To my mind, that makes PEI just about perfect.