Atlantic Canada Trip Part 1 of 2

The annual pilgrimage to my wife’s parent’s cottage in PEI has now come and gone for another year. While I have no historical or family connection to the island, it is hard not to feel like one is “home” while there. For reasons I can’t fully explain being in PEI, both in Charlottetown and its rural surroundings, reminds me of my hometown in southern Ontario, a small city surrounded on all sides by rural communities. Maybe it is the fact that  Charlottetown and St.Thomas are roughly the same size, maybe its the fact that everyone seems to know everyone, or knows someone who knows everyone. Whatever the reason I always get a weird sense of nostalgia when driving through Charlottetown. The obvious difference is the fact that a city of half a million was 20 minutes away from me growing up, and to get to a city that size from Charlottetown one has to drive 4 hours to Halifax, NS.

2011 marked my 4th time to PEI, my third with my wife to her family cottage. Besides the time I came for work we have always made the 14ish hour journey by car. The drive has always been enjoyable, although the first time we made the drive home, in 2007, Mary was sick, so I drove the entire way. We stopped lots, had a lot of close calls of throwing up in the car, and made it home in somewhere around 19 hours. I was delirious by the time we pulled into the driveway, and had to be at work the next morning.

Each time I have been to the Island I have managed to play some golf, without golf being the focus of the trip. A round here and there when time permitted. I have managed to play 8 different courses on the Island, including one 9 hole course called Peaks Tees, that you won’t find on any map, but at $10 for 9 holes it is quite a treat. I have played the big one, Crowbush and it is every bit as good as its reputation suggests. I have also played Glasgow Hills, Stanhope, Fox Meadows, Countryview, Glen Afton and Avondale (which I consider the true hidden gem of PEI). Without checking any facts I would say there is more golf in PEI per capital than anywhere else in Canada, and maybe even North America.

This year, Mary and I decided on a bit of a different strategy. We would stop over in Edmundston, NB and play golf there, before heading onto PEI. I am sure the transcript will show this was my idea and Mary went along with it, but either way this served two purposes, breaking up the trip into two reasonable 7 hour drives and offering us the chance to play a new course in a new province. Unfortunately, there only appeared to be one course in the greater Edmundston area, fortunately for us it was the Club de Golf Fraser Edmundston, a public (a muni even) course, located in the heart of Edmundston that happened to host the 1956 and 2002 Men’s Canada Amateur (the course measures around 6,600 from the back tee’s which likely makes it unsuitable to host such an event nowadays).

The 2011 trip would more predominately feature golf , more so than past trips to PEI. In addition to our stop in Edmundston, we had rounds lined up at Crowbush, Countryview and Glen Afton.

The day we were to play Edmundston was a miserable day. I woke for our 9:00am tee time around 6:00am to the sound of pouring rain. The rain subsided a bit by breakfast and to our delight had stopped by the time we made it to the course. The course was dead, I think we were the second group of the day (at 9am!). I really liked the course, even though I didn’t play all the well ( 84 – scorecard here). Mary played well (96) despite the weather, the rain came and went all round, heavy at times. The layout was quite nice, the front 9 was extremely challenging with the 1st hole being one of the toughest starting holes I have ever played, a par 4 dogleg left that you need to get your drive out around 270 to see around the corner. If I had to pick a hole that stood out among the 18 it would be not one but two holes, the par 3 6th hole and the par 4 7th hole were a great combination of scenery and challenge. The 6th, a 194 yard par 3 plays way downhill with railroad tracks running in front of the green. The hole may not be the hardest hole on the course, but provides a great view. The  7th, a 439 yard par 4, dog leg right, with railroad tracks the right rand side and forest down the left. Regardless of how well you hit your drive you are left with a blind second shot into an elevate green. The course website describes the 7th as the hardest golf hole in New Brunswick!

The conditions were good and what I would expect for the price we paid, but not what I would have expected from a course that had hosted 2 national championships. That is not to say the course was in bad shape, because it wasn’t, it was in good shape, but, as an example it wasn’t in the kind of shape you would find most Clublink courses. There were no flat lies on most fairways, even driving the cart down the fairways seemed like you were on a roller coaster, this added to the difficulty of the course. The greens were in good shape and rolled true, but due to the rain they were a little on the slow side, I suspect the play quicker when it is dry. The clubhouse was fairly basic, but the change rooms were nice and well maintained. The course had a driving range, but I never saw a putting green, I suspect it was somewhere though.

We made it through the round in about 3.5 hours and were on the road to PEI by noon hour.

Below are some photos from the day.  

That’s all for part 1, will be back with part 2 (Crowbush, Countryview and Glen Afton), later this week.

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