PEI has some of the most beautiful and challenging golf courses in the world, Score Golf Magazine has rated PEI as Canada's number one golf destination two years running. Travel and Leisure Magazine has PEI rated as the top island destination in North America and top 10 in the world. Come and take a look at what we have to offer in the way of PEI golf packages. We have listed all the major golf courses on Prince Edward Island so you are just one click away ...
Golf on PEI
It was one of those perfect mornings with not even a breath of wind. A fog had set in over the course during the night and as we stood on the tee the visibility was about 100 yards. It was so peaceful that we didn't mind standing around. Slowly the fog began to dissipate and when it had thinned to the point we felt we could see about 200 yards, the first group teed off, 1,2,3,4 balls disappeared into the distance and as we stood there and watched the foursome started up the fairway and little by little were absorbed. It was so quiet, and after about five minutes one of the group called back and we could barely hear that it was OK. We took our turn and by the time we had made our way half way up the fairway the sun was burning the fog away and the beauty of a Prince Edward Island golf course was all around us. One thing you can be sure of, when you take a golf vacation on Prince Edward Island you will leave with a lasting memory of the experience.
There is something about the soil on PEI that makes it the perfect environment for growing grass and potatoes, and you will find both of them on the Island in abundance. Someone once said the two main crops are potatoes and golf courses.
The Belvedere Golf and Country Club has been around for 102 years making it one of the oldest in Canada. The character of the course has changed little since it was founded. It is one of Canada's oldest golf courses still situated on the original site, and based on that location, its current condition, reputation, activity and popularity, this century old club is currently enjoying its finest hour. There is something special about an old course, the huge trees and the tradition you find in the club house, you will enjoy every moment you spend here.
Another of the older golf courses found on the Island is Stanhope. It was founded by a group of businessmen from the area who wanted to see opportunity to play the game provided to the local population as well as enhancing the growing tourist businesses that were cropping up in the area. One of the driving forces behind the building of Stanhope was legendary Island businessman Harry McLaughlan who passed away recently and is sorely missed for the energy and vision that he brought to every endeavour he was connected with.
Green Gables is yet another of the earlier Island courses. It is located within the PEI National Park in Cavendish and was designed and built in 1939 by Stanley Thompson. The course was extensively modified in the early 1980's and is still one of the favourites of many of the golfers who come to the Island from around the world each year. One of the holes on Green Gables comes complete with flocks of geese that always seem to be around and The Anne of Green Gables House can be seen from one of the fairways.
The Summerside Golf and Country Club was built in 1926 just 1km west of Summerside. It is a wooded layout with many holes lined with trees and water coming into play on eight holes. It is nice course to walk as there is no extreme elevation changes. It is an enjoyable course to play and most of the greens have a slope from back to front which gives a nice target on the approach shot. It features a very comfortable lounge area to socialize in after the round. Each year the course hosts the annual "Lobster Carnival Golf Tournament" it is always a very well organized and enjoyable event and features a lobster supper after the Saturday round. The golf course takes an average of 4 hours and 7 minutes to play with all the tees built close to the greens, so no long walks after you hole out.
As government began to recognize the growing importance of golf two Government courses were built, one at each end of the Island. Brudenell was built alongside the Cardigan river in Eastern PEI and Mill River in the West. The Rodd Hotel chain has built modern accommodation facilities at each location. Mill River is a woodlands course and is built around many subtle elevation changes and numerous small lakes and streams. Brudenell River is a perennial favourite of visiting golfers and features 6 par 3's, 6 par 4's and 6 par 5's.
Prince Edward island golf really got on the map with the opening of "The Links at Crowbush Cove" the course drew rave reviews from golf writers and was chosen as the venue for the annual "Skins Game" featuring players from the PGA tour. Built in 1994 the course has been given a 5 star rating by Golf Digest.
As golf continued to grow in popularity across North America many fine course have been constructed on Prince Edward Island which has contributed to the Island as being recognized as Canada's # 1 golf destination.
A Brief History of Golf
Even today it's still very difficult to tell what are the true and deep origins of the game of golf. Different hypothesis are in opposition and all have pros and cons supported by historians.
It seems that the Scots are those who invented the hole - making the golf a game similar to the one we know nowadays. This is not absolutely sure but this hypothesis is the most commonly shared. An often repeated story about why a golf course has 18 holes tells of how 4 friends went for walk one day with a stick and a ball. They would choose a landmark in the distance and would hit the ball until they reached it. With them they had a quart of whiskey and when they arrived at each landmark they would take a sip. When the quart of whiskey was drained they counted up the number of stops they had made and it turned out to be 18. They concluded this was just the right distance and time to spend hitting the ball. This may or may not be correct but we do know that the game grew and developed in Scotland to reach the form we know today.
We already gave the first written reference to golf : in 1457, James II prohibited the game of golf. During the 18th century real structures appear : the first rules were written in Saint-Andrews on the 14th of May, 1754 (and were a replication of those written 10 years before in Leith). The first club is created in 1764 : the "Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers".
Golf as we know it today originated from a game played on the eastern coast of Scotland in the Kingdom of Fife during the 15th century. Players would hit a pebble around a natural course of sand dunes, rabbit runs and tracks using a stick or primitive club.
Some historians believe that Kolven from Holland and Chole from Belgium influenced the game. The latter was introduced into Scotland in 1421.
However while these games and countless others are stick and ball games, they are missing that one ingredient that is unique to golf - the hole. Whatever the argument, there can be no dispute that Scotland gave birth to the game we know as golf today.
During the mid-15th century, Scotland was preparing to defend itself against an English invasion. The population's enthusiastic pursuit of golf and soccer to the neglect of military training (archery primarily) caused the Scottish parliament of King James II to ban both sports in 1457. The ban was reaffirmed in 1470 and 1491 although people largely ignored it. Only in 1502 with the Treaty of Glasgow was the ban lifted with King James IV (James 1 of England).
Golf's status and popularity quickly spread throughout the 16th century. King Charles I popularised the game in England and Mary Queen of Scots, who was French, introduced the game to France while she studied there. Indeed the term 'caddie stems from the name given to her helpers who were the French Military, known in french as cadets.
The premier golf course of the time was Leith near Edinburgh. Indeed King Charles I was on the course when given the news of the Irish rebellion of 1641. Leith was also the scene of the first international golf match in 1682 when the Duke of York and George Patterson playing for Scotland beat two English noblemen. The Gentlemen Golfers of Leith (1744) was the first club and was formed to promote an yearly competition with a silver golf club as the prize. Duncan Forbes drafted the club's rules.
The club was later renamed the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers with a clubhouse erected in 1768.
The first reference to golf at the historic town of St Andrews was in 1552. The clergy allowed public access to the links a year later.
In 1754 the St Andrews Society of Golfers was formed to compete in it's own annual competition using Leith's rules. Stroke play was introduced in 1759 and in 1764, the 18-hole course was constructed which has of course become a de-facto standard. The first women's golf club in the world was formed there in 1895. King William honoured the club with the title 'Royal & Ancient' in 1834 and the new famous clubhouse was erected in 1854. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) became the premier golf club because of it's fine course, the publication of rules, it's royal patronage and it's promotion of the game as a sport.
Of course, by this time golfers were using proper clubs and balls. Club heads were made from beech or the wood of fruit trees such as apple. Some club heads for were made from hand-forged iron. Shafts were usually ash or hazel.
Balls were made from tightly compressed feathers wrapped in a stitched horse hide sphere. The sport was somewhat exclusive due to the expense of the handcrafted equipment. After 1826, perimmon and hickory were imported from the USA to make club heads and shafts respectively. Today these antiques are prized by collectors.
The British Empire was at it's pinnacle during the 19th century. Indeed the phrase 'the sun never sets on the empire' was coined to reflect Britain's world-wide influence. Most of the early golf clubs outside the British Isles and America were formed throughout the Commonwealth.
The first golf club formed outside Scotland was Royal Blackheath (near London) in 1766. However golf is believed to have been played there since 1608. The first golf club outside Britain was the Bangalore, India (1820).
Others were the Royal Calcutta (1829), Royal Bombay (1842), Royal Curragh, Ireland (1856), the Pau, France (1856), the Adelaide (1870), Royal Montreal (1873), Cape Town (1885), St Andrew's of New York (1888) and Royal Hong Kong (1889). Some say that the South Carolina Golf Club, Charlestown of 1786.
The Victorian Industrial Revolution brought with it many social and economic changes. The growth of the railways gave birth to the mass tourism industry. For the first time, ordinary people could explore the country as day-trippers or weekend visitors. Golf clubs popped up all over the country and people could enjoy playing a different one every weekend.
Hitherto golf equipment was handcrafted and therefore expensive. Golf was therefore the preserve of the affluent. Once metal club heads and shafts and gutta percha balls (1848) began rolling off the production lines, the average person was able to afford to play golf. Both of these factors directly contributed to the growth of golf.
The Prestwick Golf Club was formed in 1851.
The precursor to the British Open, the first major national championship, was played there for the first time in 1860 with Willie Park as winner. The legend of Old Tom Morris was born when he won the event in 1862, 1864 and 1867. However his son, Young Tom Morris, was the first great champion winning the event a record four consecutive times from 1869. Other illustrious winners were JH Taylor in 1894 and Harry Vardon in 1896. Together with James Braid, these three men were known as the Great Triumvirate.
Besides the few sponsored events such as the British Open, most golf professionals made a living from competitions by betting against their opponent. Professionals also earned a living from tuition, ball and club making and caddying.
The growth of golf as an organised competitive sport in the United Kingdom was paralleled abroad in India and the USA. Gate receipts were used as prize money for the first time in 1892, England. The first international golf tournament was the Amateur Golf Championship of India and the East.
The United States Golf Association (USGA) was established to regulate the game in the United States and Mexico.
Besides rules it manages the handicapping system and conducts research into grass. The US Open US Ladies Amateur Open were inaugurated in 1895.
By 1900 there were more than 900 golf clubs in the USA. Chicago was the first to have 18 holes. Significantly American golf courses were usually specifically landscaped parklands unlike those in the United Kingdom, which were typically links courses.
The game attracted the attention of the media and business sponsorship which raised it's profile enormously. The first monthly magazine, Golf, was published in the USA. The USA became the centre of the professional game due to the proliferation of commercially sponsored competitions. However the prestigious events were still those hosted in the United Kingdom. Interestingly, it was the amateurs rather than professionals, which were exalted by the public.
Golf was confirmed as a global sport when it was made an Olympic sport.
The dawn of the 20th century brought with it several technological innovations. The first was the Haskell one piece rubber cored ball of 1900, which practically guaranteed an
extra 20 yards. Grooved-faced irons were introduced in 1902. In 1905 William Taylor invented the dimpled ball. Arthur Knight introduced steel-shafted clubs in 1910 though hickory was widely used for another 25 years. Within the space of a decade, golfers could hit further and more accurately than ever before using equipment which was relatively cheaply mass-produced.
The Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of America was formed in 1916 and initially consisted of a winter calendar. By 1944 the tour was played throughout the year and consisted of 22 events.
In 1921, the R&A imposed a limit on the size and weight of the golf ball which began a 30 year split between the European and Commonwealth game and the US game (regulated by the USGA). Most of the differences were resolved in 1951 when both parties agreed a common set of rules. However the golf ball issue was not settled until 1988 !. Today golf worldwide is regulated jointly by the R&A and the USGA. They hold a summit every four years where they agree alterations to the published official rules of golf.
The rift was accompanied by the introduction of the Ryder Cup matches in 1927. Initially the Europeans were represented by golfers from Britain and Ireland. The Americans with their wealth of talent won all events between 1935 and 1985 with the exception of 1957. Only since 1979, have players outside the British Isles been allowed to play for the European Ryder Cup team and the competition become truly competitive.
Perhaps the greatest player of the pre-war period was the American born Bobby Jones. Amongst his many successes was the original Grand Slam; he won US and British Amateurs and the US and British Opens in 1931. Other luminaries were Sir Henry Cotton who won a third consecutive British Open in 1936 and Walter Hagen who won four British Opens. Hagen was noted for flamboyant behaviour which included hiring a Rolls Royce as a changing room and giving his prize money as winner of the British Open to his caddie.
Great women golfers of the time were Joyce Wethered who won her fifth consecutive English Ladies Championship in 1924 and Glenna Collett Vare who earned her sixth US Women's Amateur in 1935.
In 1933, Augusta opened. The first US Masters was played there in 1934 and won by Horton Smith. Gary Player from South Africa broke the American monopoly of the event. Several British players have won since the 1980s.
When World War II broke out in 1939, competition in England was largely suspended. The War Ministry diverted all rubber and metal resources into the war effort and drafted men of fighting age into the services. The Americans followed suite when they entered the war.
The Ladies PGA was formed in 1951 and replaced the Women's Professional Golf Association. The first Women's Open was held in 1946 which was won by Patty Berg.
Perhaps the greatest lady golfer of the time was Mildred 'Babe' Didrikson Zaharias. She won the US Women's Amateur in 1946, the Women's British Amateur in 1947 and the US Women's Open in 1948, 1950 and 1954. If that wasn't enough, she only took up golf after retiring from an athletics career which included three Olympic gold medals and world records.
After the war, most professionals, with the exception of the great Ben Hogan, chose to compete exclusively in America because of the sizeable prize money on offer. In recognition of this fact, the R&A increased the prize money for the British Open which helped to bring the top players back.
The 1960s brought with it something special in the guise of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player - the Modern Triumvirate . They dominated the game into 1970s winning nearly every major event around the world and competing in international matches. Nicklaus for example, can claim an unbeaten record of four US Open, six US Masters titles and five US PGA Championships.
While the pre-war period might be considered as the age of women's liberation both
socially and golf wise, the 1960s brought with it the struggle against bigatory. In 1961, the PGA withdrew it's 'whites-only' rule from it's constitution. Charlie Sifford became the first black golfer to contest a PGA event and Lee Elder the first to contest the Masters in 1975. However even in 1990, when the PGA introduced further measures to end racial discrimination, more clubs notably, Cypress Point, withdrew from the Tour. Perhaps Tiger Woods' victory in the 1997 US Master has finally changed attitudes.
The most famous golf shot ever must surely be Alan Shephard hitting a ball on the moon in 1971, seen by an audience of millions around the world. Does this make golf the first sport in space? The club he used can be viewed in USGA museum.
The Americans and South African Gary Player dominated world golf during the 1970s. When Severiano Ballesteros won the British Open in 1979 and the US Masters in 1980, did the pendulum swing back in favour of the Europeans. Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie re-established Britain's competitive presence in world golf.
Individual success was matched with team success when the Europeans, captained by Tony Jacklin, won the Ryder Cup in 1985 - ending a 28 year American dominance. The Solheim Cup, the women's version of the Ryder Cup, was launched in 1990. By 1991, Europeans were at the top of the World Rankings with Ian Woosnam hitting the top spot. Golf truly has become an international game with golfers from all over the world excelling at every level.
When you visit and play a Prince Edward Island Golf Course there is something especially vibrant about the green of the grass. Some say it is because of the fact the Island is surrounded by water and the reflection coming off it enhances colours, this is why artists like coming to PEI to paint their landscapes. Others say it is something about the composition of the red soil and that the minerals absorbed into grass give it an emerald like appearance. Its probably a combination of all these plus others that are only conjecture, but the reality is that PEI has blossomed with 26 golf courses and is consistently ranked near the top by Score magazine in many of the golf categories that are voted on each year.
Travel & Leisure Magazine writes
by James Deacon
Prince Edward Island, midsummer, early morning. The clerk at the Crowbush pro shop politely repeats the price of a green fee. "It's sixty-five dollars," she says to the southern visitor with PGA WEST on his golf shirt and disbelief on his face. He signs his receipt, says thanks and walks over by one of the clubhouse doors that looks out on the fifteenth hole. It's brilliantly sunny, and there's a shine on the crosshatched cut of the fairway. Beyond the green, past tufted dunes, is the steely, whitecapped Gulf of St. Lawrence. The man stands gazing, then looks down at his receipt. You can see his mind working sixty-five Canadian dollars will translate to maybe forty-five U.S. when the credit card statement arrives back home. He smiles. It's the height of the summer season, at a course rated among the best places to play in North America. Forty-five bucks.
Its no wonder that resorts and courses on the Island are constantly being rated as "best value". Oh well, if you have to known for something, this isn't bad.