This is part 2 of our Annual Road Trip Travel Story. To catch up and read Part 1 visit here.
Day 4: On To Kings County
It was time to start our scheduled time in Kings County, the most eastern of the three in the province. The day took us to the Rodd Brudenell River Resort, the 36-hole golf complex built near the traditional fishing port of Georgetown. The facility is a special one for me, not only because I enjoy its courses and its beauty, but also for the fact that my great-great-great-grandfather called the area home in the mid-1850s.
I am biased for sure, but you don’t need to be to appreciate the place. The amenities and natural setting alone will make that happen.
For a half century the Brudenell River golf course, the older of the two on the property, has existed. In that time the Robbie Robinson design has played host to all levels of tournaments, including many pro events.
When we arrived, the scene before us was chuckle-worthy. Host pro Anne Chouinard was busy running around chasing a stray dog. It’s not surprising, the long-time resort employee is revered for her work ethic and how she deals with guests. The Quebec native found her niche in this little slice of heaven and she is just one more reason while people return here regularly.
The other reasons? The resort is in one of the quietest places you’ll find; a peaceful river-side locale. Its focus is on comfort over opulence, and two golf courses just yards from the rooms is nice as well.
Brudenell, at just over 6500 yards will not overwhelm you with difficulty, although some of the par threes will certainly test you. The course has my favourite configuration with an equal number of par 3, 4, and 5 holes.
Several holes take advantage of the Brudenell River views and Jeff embraced those heartily.
“I really appreciated the resort aspect; it wasn’t just 36 holes,” he mentioned earlier tonight. “There were some very beautiful holes and I didn’t find myself getting into too much trouble. It won’t beat you up but there is a good mix of holes.”
Satisfied with a first foray to Brudenell (we are returning in a couple days) we made our way to the north shore, just 30 minutes away, to the Rodd Crowbush Resort here tonight. Adjoining the Links of Crowbush Cove golf course, this resort is a top attraction for island visitors. The eastern locale is a perfect jump-off point with Charlottetown a short drive away, the beach a quick walk from the main building, and all sorts of modern amenities.
A two-minute shuttle takes you to the clubhouse, which is convenient. That’s where we are headed in the morning, for Jeff’s first chance to play the toprated course among the two dozen on the island.
Day 5 – Blown Away
The summary of the golf today came on the 15th hole at the Links of Crowbush. The short par 4 plays directly toward the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with a green tucked behind a dune just feet from the beach. After hitting my approach shot close to the hole, I approached it to try and make the putt…and ball blew off the green!
Head Pro Terry Hamilton shared that there might be four days a year when the crown jewel course of P.E.I. is without a breeze. Today was certainly not one of them.
Sure, I feel robbed when playing a waterside course if there is not a trace of wind, but this was a smidge more than that. 78 km/h more of it, in fact.
It was of no concern as it made our lap of the Thomas McBroom design more memorable. Facing off against Robbie Younker of Golf P.E.I. (former provincial amateur champion) and Ryan Garrett, the General Manager of the three provincial golf courses, in a match that eventually was halved, there were plenty of laughs to be had. Mostly at the ability of the high winds to affect our golf ball flights.
“Crowbush” has been an island staple since 1988 and it is always the “must-play” for most visitors.
In essence part two of our trip got underway today. The schedule had us going from an independent twosome running around the island, to joining a band of American travelers on a “reader trip” with Matt Adams. Matt is the affable and knowledgeable host of the Fairways of Life Show and a regular contributor on the Golf Channel.
We played among their group and watched as they also enjoyed the touches that make Crowbush special, some that happen even before you hit a shot.
They take special care to have a quality starter; a person that not only gets your round underway, but ensures you know about various points of interest. There also offer to take a group photo for you, if you like. The positive first impression sets a tone for the day.
Despite the winds, and our decision to play from the longest set of tees, “The Crows”, once again Crowbush passed the fun test.
Jeff enjoyed the closing holes on each side, especially the scenic 16th, which runs parallel to the beach.
“That was a lot of fun,” he commented as we all shook hands on 18. Underappreciated inland holes, beach vistas, and some towering tee locations create the character of Crowbush. While not a true “links” style course, the flavour is there. It always makes it worth the green fee.
We worked up an appetite fighting through the wind. Good thing, as we had no shortage of food this evening, having just returned from a gourmet dinner at the Inn at Bay Fortune.
Along with Matt’s group, we ventured to the outpost of celebrity Chef Michael Smith and his famous “Fireworks” dinner.
Each night a limited number of guests (book well in advance) pay a reasonable sum ($155 per person including gratuity) for what might be one of the best culinary displays most people will ever see. At this bayside farm/inn you roam the property to graze at food stations to start the evening, enjoying open fire cooking at its finest. A fresh Oyster Bar is also at your disposal.
After a special greeting from the Chef himself, and an outdoor champagne toast to the land and ocean that is punctuated by firing a potato cannon, the multi-course dinner begins inside.
The passion of the Chefs who live at the Inn all summer carries through in their efforts and we all left (after smores on the campfire to close) pleasantly delighted.
Day 6 – The Red Sands of Dundarave
That’s it. The trip is over. But boy, did we cap it with a beauty.
Our parting gift was a classic Fall day, the weather you can often expect in P.E.I. each September. The sky was an azure blue, the haze free air focussed everything sharply, and the greens and reds of the turf and sand popped to life in all their glory.
With the native red island bunkers beaming back at us, the Dundarave course at Brudenell River Resort was the ideal final chapter to our journey.
The Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry design has been softened a little since it opened; it has a few less bunkers now then when it was built. Even so, it will give you all the golf you can handle if you plan to take it on from the back tees.
Three decades younger than the adjoining Brudenell course, it shares river views but plays along on higher ground. Wider corridors mark some holes, but it is quality golf. Many call it a 1b to Crowbush as the top course on the island. That’s an individual opinion but it’s a valid sentiment.
Most players will take on all 36 during a visit to the complex. It’s not a bad idea and if the golf wasn’t so attractive on the rest of the island, it would be easy to plant yourself for a week there for endless laps.
We capped it all off tonight with a lobster dinner at Rodd Crowbush Resort, the island delicacy providing a fitting ending to the Road Trip.
As we sat with Matt’s group to close our island time I listened with pride as Jeff, as well as our new American friends, waxed on about what they had seen in P.E.I. in the past few days.
One asked another, “Are you coming back?” The other, a gentleman from Oklahoma, fired back quickly, “it’s not a matter of if, but when.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Mill River Resort
Quality Inn Cornwall
Rodd Crowbush Resort
Links of Crowbush Cove
Brudenell River Resort