The province of Newfoundland and Labrador isn’t widely known for its golf but never let it be said The Rock doesn’t have good golf.
Don’t mistake Canada’s most easterly province as a true golf destination because really it is not. But Newfoundland has some great golf courses, spectacular even, that certainly enhance the Newfoundland experience. That experience may include a hike in Gros Morne National Park into Western Brook Pond and its iconic fjord or lake and possible moose sighting; a drive along its rugged and magnificent coastline; a feed of cod tongues or fried toutons (bread dough); an overnight stay in a quaint fishing community; a visit to L’anse aux Meadows to see a 1,000-year-old Viking settlement or a thrilling zip line adventure at Marble Mountain.
The province lists 22 golf courses within its boundaries with the better known tracts such as Clovelly, The Wilds of Salmonier, Bally Haly, Twin Rivers and Admiral’s Green on the eastern side of the island. But swing west to the Corner Brook region and Gros Morne and your eyes and game will light up with the quality of golf in some spectacular settings.
The masterpiece on the West Coast, and for many on the entire island, is The River Course at Humber Valley Resort, (www.humbervalley.com) just a short drive from Corner Brook. Canadian architect Doug Carrick let his creative juices flow incorporating hilly terrain, Deer Lake, the Humber River, creeks and other natural features into a golf course that doesn’t have one signature hole but several, all suitable for a postcard and ready for framing.
His first impressions when he saw the site: “I thought it was beautiful and I thought it had tremendous potential with the Humber River and the lake and with some of the views. I thought it was outstanding,” he said in a telephone interview”.
Carrick doesn’t rate his courses or have a favourite but certainly this would be right up near the top of the courses he has done or been involved with.
“I don’t think you will find a property with more scenic beauty anywhere. It’s stunning,” he said.
The River Course, which features some extreme elevation changes, like a 300-foot drop from the 10th tee to the fairway, large undulating greens, 108 sand traps, fairways that wrap around water, major rock outcroppings and all routed through heavily forested terrain, is part of a multi-million dollar, exclusive resort community.
Beautiful homes and chalets, many of which are available for rent and packaged with golf, are interspersed throughout the property.
The multi-level Eagle’s Perch clubhouse sits atop a high ridge overlooking the course and the Humber Valley and with views of the mountains in the far distance. Just calling it spectacular really doesn’t do it justice.
The course, opened in June 2006, plays 7,199 yards from the tips, 6,858 from the blues, 6,441 from the whites and 5,484 from the reds. And green fee to enjoy all of this is $80 which includes a cart.
Further north in Gros Morne National Park on the Viking Trail, is Gros Morne Resort (www.grosmorneresort.com) and a 7,025 yard, 18-hole course designed by Robert Heaslip. Located between the communities of St. Paul and Cow Head, this tract is the most northerly on the island and the landscape with its stunted tree growth reflect the environmental harshness of the region. The entire course was built through a bog but Heaslip did a masterful job creating a tract that offers challenge, playability and scenic views of the bordering Long Range Mountains. And if you like long holes, even from the white tees the course’s four Par 5s all play over 500 yards.
In Corner Brook, a community built on the forest industry, is Blomidon Golf Club, (www.blomidongolf.com) which overlooks the city, the Bay of Islands and offers panoramic views of the Blomidon Mountains. The course, recently redesigned by Canadian Graham Cooke, first opened in 1959. Not a long course by today’s standards at 5,835 yards, Blomidon offers a stern challenge with narrow fairways and small greens in a park-like setting.
Humber River Golf Club (not to be confused with Humber River Resort) is a remarkable, well-maintained, nine-hole layout at Deer Lake. Located off the road to the Deer Lake Airport, the Humber River course is routed through tall softwood forest. This easy walking course opened in 1994 and is an absolute treat to play.
A bit further inland is the Grand Falls Golf Club (www.grandfallsgolfclub.ca) at Grand Falls-Windsor. This course, which built its first three holes in 1924, has two distinctive nines. The front nine reflects an old style course with narrow fairways and small greens while the back nine, designed by Graham Cooke and opened in 2004, reflects the modern era of wide fairways and large undulating greens.
The course, at just over 6,000 yards, brings water into play on a number of occasions, especially on the 18th hole where your second shot has to carry about 160 yards over Rushy Pond Brook to the green.
Newfoundland and Labrador is a unique province sparsely populated with great friendly people with thick distinct accents and yes, good golf. And even if you are a CFA (Come From Away) you will be most warmly welcomed. It’s all part of the experience.
For more information on golf and golf vacations in Newfoundland and Labrador visit www.golfnl.ca or email: email@example.com
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