Prince Edward Island Golf: Yes, You Should Go Golf PEI
For the last few weeks people have been asking me where my next trip was going to be. To which I’d respond, “I’m taking a golf trip to Prince Edward Island.”
I’ll forgive you if you’ve never thought of PEI as a golfing mecca, but after you read about my experience there, you might just change your mind.
When most people think of Prince Edwards Island they think of their world famous mussels (of which they provide 70% of North America’s), or if you’re like my wife: “you’re going to Anne of Green Gables?!?”
Yes, PEI is the home to every teenage girl’s favorite red head.
But I’m here to tell you, it’s not all just seafood and musicals, the golf and experience as a whole is truly world class, as you’ll see in this recap.
Where is Prince Edward Island?
Before we dig into the specifics on the golf, we should probably do a quick geography refresher, because unless you’re from Canada or the Northeast I’m willing to bet you might not be super familiar with where PEI is or even what it is.
Prince Edward Island is a Canadian island that is located a few hundred miles due east of Northern Main, and is surrounded by Nova Scotia to the South and East, and New Brunswick to the west.
Getting there is actually relatively easy from the east coast, as they have numerous daily direct flights from both Toronto and Montreal. I flew directly to Toronto from Portland, but due to a few scheduling issues had to also pop over to Montreal.
The airport is just a 10 minute drive from the main city of Charlottetown, which is where stayed and is an excellent hub for all of your golf. Although there are other spots on the island that may be a better fit if you’re looking for a more relaxing or secluded experience – but we’ll cover those later.
PEI Golf Courses: Where to Play on Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is essentially the golf capital of Canada. There are more courses per capita than any other place in the country, with 28 courses for a small island of 150k or so residents.
I think the thing that surprised me the most about golfing in PEI was just how diverse the courses are. They have hills, they have ocean, they have history, they have parkland, links – just about any type of golf you could want, you’ll find on PEI.
And it makes it a truly unique destination in the world of golf.
But of those 28 or so courses, where should you, play?
Of the 28, there are 10 or so that would be more well known for the traveling golfer.
- The Links at Crowbush Cove
- Green Gables Golf Club
- Brudenell River Course
- Glasgow Hills
- Anderson’s Creek
- Mill River
- Fox Meadow
- Eagle’s Glenn
That isn’t to say the other’s aren’t worth playing by any means, but we’ve gotta draw the line somewhere here!
Of those listed above I personally played 4 of them: Crowbush, Green Gables, Glasgow Hills and Dundarave – which I’ll cover more below.
These were a fantastic introduction to golf in PEI because they varied in both style and location on the island, so we were able to see a lot of what PEI golf was all about.
Crowbush Golf Course: Championship Course with Spectacular Views
The first course we played was Crowbush Cove, and man we came out of the gate hot. Crowbush is probably the most well known course on Prince Edward Island, as it’s ranked 39 in the country by Score Golf. The only two other rounds I’ve played in Canada (Stewart Creek and Banff Springs) were also on this list.
It also hosted a PGA skins game with John Daly, Mike Weir, Mark O’Meara, and Fred Couples – so it’s received some international attention.
It was designed by Tom McBroom in 1992, and set the stage for a golf building boom on the island over the course of the next decade.
The course routing reminds me a bit of Bandon Dunes in that you start inland, work your way out towards the water, back inland, back out towards the water and so on.
Once you hit the 5th, the course really starts to get going, with some really fun holes. In particular I liked the short par 4, 7th – which lets you hit any club off the tee, while giving you a nice ocean view as a backdrop.
The signature stretch is when it heads back out to the water on 15, and then gets right up against the beach on 16.
I also was particularly fond of the uphill par 3, 17th (which I’ve been told many locals actually hate), but I thought it was full of character and was one of the most fun holes on the course.
Play Crowbush If: You want a challenge, excellent conditioning and some of the best golf views on the island.
Green Gables Golf Club: The Island’s Second Oldest Course
Obviously PEI is known as the home of Anne of Green Gables, but I really hadn’t heard much about Green Gables Golf Club.
Built in 1939 it’s the second oldest course on the island, and was designed by none other than, famous Canadian architect Stanley Thompson.
Unfortunately over the years the holes and routings have changed relatively drastically, due to a variety of reasons (not the least of which were all the tourists getting hit by balls while viewing Anne’s House!).
The good news however, is the course doesn’t feel like it’s been rebuilt. It feels natural, and especially with about 5 million dollars of work done a few years back, it still feels like Thompson with high bunker caps that were reminiscent of my time at Banff Springs.
I found this to be the most underrated course we played, and frankly, my favorite. It had a fun routing that occasionally gave you peeks of the ocean, but it was the only course we played that felt Golden Age and had some of the features you might see from a hundred year old course in the northeast.
The 13th which ran down to the water was a favorite, as well as the par 3 16th which had a massive scale to it.
Play Green Gables If: You want a historic course that feels different than anything else on the island. And if you (or your significant other) wants to visit the home of Anne
Glasgow Hills Golf Club: Quirk, Hills, and a Whole Lot of Fun
I’m going to come right out and say it, Glasgow Hills is a blast to play. It’s only a few minute from Green Gables, so if you’re staying near there, it would make for an excellent second round.
The view from the Clubhouse at Glasgow Hills may be the best on the island as it overlooks the course, rolling hills with golden fields, and on a clear day you can see the ocean in the backdrop. Unfortunately, as you can see we did not have a clear day.
Despite being on the side of a hill, it never felt like a chore to play. Sometimes you play courses and feel like all you’re doing is going up. And this course never really felt that way to me.
Well, with the exception of the par 5, 17th hole. This is the single most uphill hole I’ve ever played: and I loved it.
It’s quirky, it’s odd, but there’s still some strategy involved and both your first and second shots are fun.
Glasgow Hills is one of the newest courses on the island, and it definitely feels like more of a modern course. There are some seriously undulating greens, and we’ll just say it’s probably not a course you’d want to walk (at least not the back 9).
On a personal note, after piping my drive down the middle on 18 I committed the ultimate golf faux pas: I added up my score when I knew I had a pretty good round going.
I turned to Woody (the GM who I was playing with) and said “If I birdie this, I shoot a 79.”
“What are you doing! I’ve known you were on track since 15, you don’t ever say that out loud!”
Alas, I faded a perfect 7 iron from the left side of the green and watched it roll to about 3 feet. Made the putt, and redeemed myself from missing a 6 footer at Crowbush for my 79.
Watch this video I shot while on PEI for Location Rebel. Scroll to 7:05 to see the putts:
Play Glasgow Hills If: You like fun golf. You want unique golf holes, hilltop views, and something different than the linksy feel many of the other courses have.
Dundarave Golf Course: A Modern Challenge
The final course I played on my trip was Dundarave, and as far as I’m concerned, it was the most difficult.
Dundarave is a true championship test of golf, stretching all the way out to 7400 yards from the tips.
It’s claim to fame was it hosted a head to head match back in 2006 between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus – with Nicklaus taking the victory.
Dundarave has kind of a unique feel in that it often intersects with Brudenell River which has been there for decades. I found it interesting there was so much intersecting land still available to build a course all these years later.
Apparently the land it sits on used to be a campground.
The two courses could not be more different though. Brudenell is more of a vintage parkland, where Dundarave is a big and bold modern course.
Dundarave probably has my favorite hole I played on the island in its par 4, 8th. It’s a spectacular dogleg left that you could almost call a Cape hole, although not quite.
The green could be drivable for long hitters playing down wind, but the real choice to make is how much bunker you want to take on with the tee shot.
The hole is scenic, fun, and it sets up a wonderful stretch of holes.
I found this to be the most difficult of all the courses we played, with a few very long par 4s and a lot of bunkering – but the more I look back on it, the more I realize how much I enjoyed it.
Play Dundarave If: You’re staying at Rodd’s Brudenell River Resort, you want a real challenge, and if you want to experience some of the best holes on the island.
Best Golf Courses in PEI: My thoughts
It’s hard to say which courses are “better” than others when looking at the courses on PEI – because honestly, I’d say they were all at a similar level. All 4 of them were good golf courses. They all had some world class holes, and a handful of more pedestrian holes – but it just kind of comes down to what type of golf you like to play.
Usually when I do trips like this, I have no trouble ranking in order my favorites – but right now, I’m really struggling.
I’d say pretty clearly that I liked Green Gables the best, but the other 3 are almost in a 3 way tie.
Crowbush and Dundarave would definitely be the “better” golf courses if you’re looking at say a Golf Digest ranking, but Glasgow Hills was straight up just a fun course to play, with cool holes, and lots of fun shots.
If you put a gun to my head, the rankings of my favorites (not necessarily what I think the “best” courses are would be:
- Green Gables
- Glasgow Hills
Where to Stay in Prince Edward Island
There are no shortage of options for where to stay when you’re on the island – it really comes down to what you’re looking to do.
If you want a central hub, and like to be close to the action (including bars and nightlife), then I’d recommend you stay in Charlottetown.
We stayed at the Hillhurst Inn (which has a sister property called the Fairholm next door), which was a 2 minute walk to everything, had a wonderful staff, and was extremely quaint.
The rooms were good sized, the beds were comfortable, and the breakfast delicious.
Many of the golf courses mentioned have a resort on site or nearby, so I’d recommend taking a look at a map of the island and lay out what you want to do.
There are Rodd Resorts at both Crowbush and Brudenell/Dundarave, as well as in Charlottetown that may be good options. But you can get a much more thorough look at options at Golf PEI.
Food on Prince Edward Island: Yes, it Really is That Good
If there’s one thing Prince Edward Island is known for more than golf or a red headed girl named Anne, it’s food.
And for good reason.
The food on the island is fantastic, and the seafood is world class. You can get unbelievable mussels just about anywhere, and if there are oysters, lobster or any other seafood on the menu – it’s best to go for it.
There are no shortage of opportunities to get your fix, but a few places I’d recommend you check out are:
Sims Corner Steakhouse PEI
If you’re looking for a nice steak dinner, look no further.
My meal at Sims Corner was one of the best meals I’ve had in recent memory. The Beef, Bacon, Bleu starter was phenomenal, and well, exactly what it sounds like.
My filet was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and the lobster that accompanied it was buttery and moist.
We sampled everything from the oysters, to the wedge salad, to bone marrow – the list goes on, and everything was good. So if you’re looking for a nice meal in Charlottetown, look no further.
Chef Michael Smith: The Fireworks Feast
I’m going to go on about this for probably longer than I should, but you know what? I don’t care, because this was hands down one of the best culinary experiences I’ve ever had.
If you’re from the States you may or may not know who Chef Michael Smith is. He’s a celebrity chef who has had numerous shows on the Food Network in Canada and resides on PEI.
Every night he and his team host what is called the Fireworks Feast. It’s a 5 course meal, that is so much more than that.
He’s built an inn on his property called the Inn at Fortune Bay, which is a stone’s throw from the water, and features a phenomenal collection of gardens.
Your evening starts by grabbing a sangria, gin and tonic or another beverage of your choice and takes you out to the back part of the property where there are stations setup for appetizers.
All of the food for the evening is prepared over an open flame (hence the Fireworks name), and you leisurely stroll among the gardens and sample some of the finest appetizers you’ll ever have in your life.
The menu changes every week based on what ingredients are available, but our night we were treated to smoked salmon, sausage with three different sauces, lamb tacos, an unbelievably tender beef tongue, and the coupe de gras: an unlimited oyster bar.
Yes as you peruse the garden for an hour sampling delicacies for the island, you can visit the oyster bar which featured 2 different types of oysters and their own bloody mary topping, making for some of the very best oysters I’ve ever had. Second, only to Madre in NYC.
At 7pm Chef Michael comes out and gives a champagne toast, announced that we were a “500 oyster crowd”, before we all headed in for a family style 5 course dinner.
I could have walked away after the Oyster Hour and been thrilled. But no, it only gets better.
From the 100 year old bread that was so dense (in a good way) it felt like a shot put ball, to the freshest and most delicious seafood chowder I’ve ever had – the dinner was on point.
It ventured from straight ahead classics like the wagyu beef grilled to a perfect medium rare, to a salad that came in two parts: above the ground and below the ground.
You took the “above the ground” veggies like lettuce, corn, tomatoes and such and mixed them with your plate of “below the ground” items like carrot and beat purees.
It’s a unique ideas that tasted unbelievably fresh.
The wine pairing was excellent, and the Malbec served with the steak was unreal – I’m still looking for bottles to buy here in Portland.
And to top the night off, there were homemade marshmallows by the fire pit.
The dinner is about an hour from Charlottetown, but oh so worth it, and one I’ll be talking about for years to come.
You can see more of the dinner in the video above, scroll to 56 seconds to see it.
Final Thoughts on Prince Edward Island Golf
My golf trip to PEI was even more than I expected to be. From the local hospitality, the world class food, and a great variety of golf – it was unlike any golf destination I’ve been to in the best way possible.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic golf getaway, or something a little more off the beaten path for your next buddies trip, I can’t recommend Prince Edward Island highly enough.
I only wish I’d had the chance to play more of the golf courses on the island, but you know what that means: I’m just going to have to come back next year 🙂
My good friend Patrick Koenig, also did a nice write up of our trip as well – so go check it out!
Golf PEI: Everything You Need to Plan Your Trip
I was part of a trip brought in from Golf PEI to experience the island, but all thoughts and commentary are entirely my own.
Go check out their website where you’ll be able to learn everything you could possibly want to know about the island, the golf, the accommodations, and how to plan the perfect golf trip to the island.