Golf: Northern Exposure

  • Mike Nolan

Notwithstanding Newfoundland’s name—and the fact that Newfoundlanders have been playing golf here for more than six decades—few U.S. players have discovered the Canadian island province, at least not as a destination for which you would pack your clubs. However, now that the Humber Valley Resort has opened its new River Course, a golfer might have sufficient reason to venture into the far western reaches of Canada’s easternmost territory.

The 7,207-yard course runs between a section of the 20-mile-long Deer Lake and the steep hills of the resort, which accommodates guests in magnificent chalets and luxury apartments. The resort also has several dining options for when you become, as the natives say, gut-foundered.

The course, designed by Canadian Doug Carrick, who also carved Greywolf Golf Course out of the British Columbia Rockies and now is working on a course on the shores of Scotland’s Loch Lomond, sits in the northernmost section of the Appalachian Mountains. Completed last fall,  the front nine plays along the water and provides dramatic views of the salmon-rich Humber River—which runs through the lake—and the Long Range Mountains bordering the lake and river. The water is wide enough here that the vehicles traversing the Trans-Canadian Highway along the lake’s far shore are inaudible. You are more likely to hear the screech of a bald eagle fishing for salmon than the sound of an automobile engine.

Dramatic elevation changes—drives frequently plummet to landing areas far below—and water hazards dominate the course. Shots that fall short of the striking par-3 fifth hole, which demands a 230-yard carry over a cove, land on a pebbled beach. The uphill 467-yard, par-4 sixth begins a long climb back toward the clubhouse.

The back nine, which opened in June (a grand-opening ceremony will take place in September to mark the completion of the driving range, short-game practice area, and luxury apartments), begins with the course’s most dra­matic hole, the 458-yard, par-4 10th. Falling nearly 200 feet from tee to green, drives plunge to a landing area that sits against a backdrop of forested mountains. As the hours of the day pass, the hole’s character changes completely: The par rating seems reasonable early in the day, but in the afternoon, when stiff headwinds blow down the valley, reaching the green in two strokes usually requires a Herculean drive.

Beginning with the 11th hole, the course weaves through heavily wooded valleys—Newfoundlanders call them drooks—that are framed by steep slopes. The back nine’s hazards include creeks that cross in front of several greens, as well as moose and a family of foxes whose fondness for golf balls may necessitate a free drop. At the 16th hole, you encounter hills so steep that during winter they serve as a run for tobogganing—an activity that the uninitiated golfer might think is the only recreational use for such terrain in such a location.

Humber Valley Resort
866.686.8100
www.humbervalley.com

Photo by Darin Schnabel⁄RM Auctions
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