For a number of years, at least in my world, Thomas McBroom’s The Links at Crowbush Cove invoked a sense of grandeur when it was mentioned in conversation. People who played it were held in a higher regard to those who hadn’t. After opening in 1994, it gave PEI that last piece to become a golf destination, not just for Canadians, but for the world. The critics also loved it, Golf Digest gave it a 5 star rating and it spent more than a decade (or two) being ranked as one of the top courses in Canada by most Golf publications. In a nutshell, through the 90s and early 2000s, The Links of Crowbush Cove was what Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs are to Canadian golf in 2016.
Not everyone has always loved the course, some calling it overrated, many calling it difficult and over the years a bit of its luster has worn off. The fact that the Province of PEI has been trying to sell it for a number of years without being able to, hasn’t helped its image (although I am not sure if that really hurts it either). Earlier this summer, ScoreGolf ranked it 33rd in its bi annual top 100 courses in Canada. In 2015, it was ranked 9th in the ScoreGolf top 59 public courses in the country.
The par 72 course plays from just over 5,000 yards to just under 7,000 yards and is rated at 74.9 with a slope of 146 from the back tees (going all the way down to 67.4/107 from the forward tees). While it is called a links course, and it is situated along the ocean (technically the gulf of st.lawrence), I wouldn’t really classify it as a links course when compared to a Cabot or St.Andrews. Crowbush spends a good portion of its routing in the trees, a few holes have fairly tight fairways. My best description would be a kind of hybrid taking both elements of links golf and parklands golf.
Although PEI as a whole isn’t very big, you could say, relatively speaking, that Crowbush is off the beaten path. You could say most places in PEI are off the beaten path as well.
About 30 minutes from Charlottetown and around an hour from the bridge that brings to PEI from the “main land”, The Links at Crowbush Cove is situated in Morell, or West St. Peter’s or Lakeside, depending on who you speak to, however its mailing address is Morell (which if you ask me is actually about 15 minutes down the rd).
Luckily we are in the golden age of gps. I suggest you use it for this trip.
Perched on top of a hill, with the 1st tee, 5th green, 6th tee, 9th green, and 18th green surrounding it, the clubhouse is clearly a focal point of the entire property.
While I haven’t spent much time in the clubhouse, I do know that the second level offers some great views of the property. The only thing they missed in my opinions was not making the second level patio wrap around he entire building, which would have provided some great views of the entire course.
The 5th green with the clubhouse in the background
As a repeat customer I knew what to expect of the course, and was not disappointing. Crowbush is a well maintained, impeccably manicured work of golf art, with few details missed.
The fairways were lush, the green receptive and the rough, well rough.
As mentioned in the opening, it is not a true links course and a number of holes play almost parkland like. However, for the most part the course is open. Fairways are wide, but generally well protected by bunkers. Greens are relatively flat, many are elevated, and well protected by bunkers.
Both the front and back nines feature challenges and some reward holes, but holes 5 – 8 are a crazy stretch of holes, which I believe tip the scales of difficulty in favor of the front 9.
The 5th is a long par 5 with water to the left of the green and a nasty set of pot bunkers behind it. The green itself is very narrow making for a touch approach shot, even with a wedge in your hand. The 6th is a par 3 over a marsh. All carry, 191 yards from the back tees. The 7th is a really nice golf hole. Off the tee you have a 200 or so yard carry over water, leaving you with an uphill shot into a green perched on the edge of the property, with the ocean in the background.
The 7th green at Crowbush
The stretch of holes ends with the 8th. A 219 yard par 3, all carry over water, with the ocean to your right, when the wind blows it makes for a tough task.
Although there are a number of really nice golf holes at Crowbush, the signature hole has to be the par 5 11th. The back tees are so elevated that you get a good view of a significant portion of the property and you turn around to see nothing but ocean for as far as the eye can see. It is pretty impressive to say the least. The hole itself is nightmarishly hard. Assuming you hit a decent tee that doesn’t find one of the fairway bunkers you now are faced with a second shot that will likely be a minimum of a 200 yard carry over a hazard or to lay up and try for the green with your third from 200+ yards. There really is no good option.
In addition to the somewhat majestic and most certainly difficult holes that Crowbush features, it does also feature some fairly straight forward holes that require good shots, but aren’t super punishing when you miss.
The par 4 15th. A more or less straight forward par 4, with some nice views of the beach of water near the green.
The only disappointment I had with the course was the green speeds. For whatever reason, could have just been the fact it was late in the day, the greens were rolling somewhat slow, probably somewhere around a 8 – 9. I would have expected much faster greens from Crowbush.
Crowbush features a full range and a large putting green. While I wouldn’t consider it a world class practice facility, it is definitely more than adequate for a pre round warm up or to get in some practice.
Bits and Bites
- I played the tips for the first time. It was interesting.
- The course got the better of me once again. I have yet to break 85 at Crowbush, which I find insane, and yet its a reason to go back.
- Pace of play on the back 9 was dreadful. I was paired with another single and teeing off at 5, we knew we would have to hustle. We played the front in about an hour and a half, but when we got to the 13th hole we ran into a group, who was waiting on a group on the fairway. By the time we got to 16, there were 3 groups on the tee, one on the fairway and one on the green. We finished 18 just as dusk turned to darkness.
See you at the turn,
PS – I have some reviews coming up of Carleton Golf and Yacht Club in Ottawa, Brudenell River Golf Course in PEI, and Doon Valley Golf Course in Kitchener, ON.