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There is golf in Newfoundland: Believe It!

Humber Valley Golf Club

The picturesque Humber Valley Golf Club.

Beyond Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador is likely more thought of as a province of rugged coastline, fishing and offshore oil and gas exploration.

Golf doesn’t often come into the mix when thinking of Canada’s most easterly province. True, the province, with such vast unpopulated land, does not have a lot of courses, just over 20, but there are several in that group that are outstanding.

There is plenty of variety on the East Coast with such courses as Clovelly, The Wilds of Salmonier, Bally Haly, Twin Rivers and Admiral’s Green.

I had the opportunity to play these courses a number of years ago and enjoyed them all so I relished the thought of going back to play some courses on the West Coast. I got the opportunity in June and I was not disappointed.

On the 10th tee at The River Course at Humber Valley Resort, it’s all about hang time.
The tee sits approximately 300 feet above the fairway. The long view towards Corner Brook offers a panoramic postcard of the valley and the mountains beyond.

But from the moment you strike the ball from this lofty perch, you think hang time. Your drive sails high into the sky and the golf ball seems almost motionless, a white dot in a blue sky. And then it falls in a time that seems to take forever, to the green carpet below.

The Humber Valley Resort course, designed by Canadian Doug Carrick, is the focal point of the luxurious residential community. The majority of homes and chalets within this several-hundred acre development are mostly foreign owned but several are available to rent and can be included in a golf package. (www.humbervalley.com).

The River Course, which has such dramatic elevation changes, lots of challenge, water scenes with Deer Lake and the Humber River both part of the venue, can be nicely accommodated into a vacation to this part of the island. It’s one of those courses that doesn’t have just one signature hole but several.

Also on the West Coast is the 18-hole Robert Heaslip design in Gros Morne National Park.
The course is on the Viking Trail at Gros Morne Resort (www.grosmorneresort.com). At 7,025 yards from the back tees, it is located between the communities of St. Paul and Cow Head. Heaslip designed this course through land that was basically a bog and the harshness of the region is reflected in the stunted tree grow that surrounds the course. Bordered on one side by the Long Range Mountains, the Gros Morne course offers plenty of challenge and scenic views. Long hitters will particularly enjoy this design with four Par 5s all over 500 yards, even from the white tees.

But even though the winters and wind can be brutal at times in this part of the province, course staff do a great job growing grass and keeping the course in excellent condition.

Blomidon Golf Club in Corner Brook, (www.blomidongolf.com) sits high overlooking the city and the harbour, known as the Bay of Islands. This is an older, more mature course first opened in 1959 and more recently redesigned by Canadian Graham Cooke. Situated in a park-like setting, the coursed is routed over hilly and treed terrain with tight fairways and small greens.

The Humber River Golf Club (not to be confused with Humber River Resort) a nine-hole course in Deer lake, is one of those easy-walking tracts that you could play all day. Opened in 1994, the fairways are lined by tall softwoods. It is a very player friendly course that tests all aspects of the game. The staff are very friendly and accommodating but being in Newfoundland what else would you expect.

A bit further inland and a course that has a history dating back to 1924 when the first three holes were built, is the Grand Falls Golf Club (www.grandfallsgolfclub.ca) in Grand Falls-Windsor.

This course has two distinctive nines, the front side is narrow and has small greens, a reflection of an older-style course. The back nine, designed by Graham Cooke, has a more modern look with wider fairways and much larger, undulating greens.

Water comes into play often and is most evident on the 18th hole where a second shot has to carry about 160 yards over Rushy Pond Brook to reach the green.

Newfoundland and Labrador cannot really be described as true golf destination but it has 22 courses scattered around this vast province (two courses in Labardor, Tamarack and Amaruk) that offer so many features of a uniquely majestic landscape. Playing golf here is a good way to experience Newfoundland and its many other attractions and activities. For more information on golf and golf vacations in Newfoundland and Labrador visit www.golfnl.ca or email: golf@hnl.ca

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Tom Peters

Tom Peters is a freelance writer based in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, a suburb of Halifax. In December 2009 he retired after 41 years with The Halifax Chronicle Herald. He covered competitive golf regionally for the paper in his early days as reporter and over the years has freelanced golf travel articles to a number of major golf and business publications. He is a member and a director of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada.

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