2013 was a dream year for me. With business in Vancouver Island and in the west of Newfoundland I had a chance to visit some of the most beautiful places in Canada…and yes, play some of the best golf courses! Placing Humber Valley as one of the best public golf courses in Canada is both appropriate and necessary. This was a special experience for me. I will acknowledge my bias, this is a fantastic course based on a layout I simply love to play! And playing the front 9 on my own allowed me to experience the incredible beauty of this Doug Carrick designed course in a relaxed pace.
What fascinated me about this course is likely the issue which will challenge its sustainability – location. More specific is its location in relation to any urban centre or other activity. Humber Valley is south of Deer Lake and north of Corner Brook, just off the Trans-Canada Highway and near the convergence of Deer Lake and the Lower Humber River. I am not a student of course design, but it played like this course was dropped onto this scenic and mountainous landscape, it did not appear the landscape was manipulated to accommodate the course.
And for a mountain course, the downhill holes were used for majestic effect. Uphill holes seemed subtle (although still challenging). The first few holes, in hindsight, are quite pedestrian. By the time you get close to the water the awe of this natural beauty shows itself. Landing areas are generous and fair, trouble is subtle and course is much more forgiving than other mountain courses I have experienced. I had taken some pictures but highly recommend that people view the photo album on the course website…the pictures don’t lie and are an accurate representation of this eastern Canada gem. The clubhouse is well stocked, convenient and close to the first tee area. Staff went above and beyond to make this a memorable experience for me. As someone new to the area they were incredibly helpful in supporting a round of golf within my itinerary of traveling to Corner Brook.
The tee boxes were excellent, fairways generous and the greens required attention with some undulation but nothing that I felt unfair or tricky. The elevation change throughout the course was well utilized with distances or climbs between holes making my decision to get a cart a very smart decision! I learned the course employs a grounds crew of three. Having seen two of the three staff at work, they were very courteous of players, stopping their work and moving to the very edge of play before beginning their work once I was done play.
The signature hole is 10, with a jaw-dropping elevation change of 180 feet from the tee deck to the landing area below. Stunning is simply not appropriate. It’s hard to argue how impressive this hole is, but I am a fan of the 11th which plays back toward the mountains and the 17th, a par 3 which plays downhill and require absolute precision. I played the back nine with two members who raved about this course, the facilities and the staff who work tirelessly to make this course one of the best public Canadian courses. I am hopeful I get back to western Newfoundland. I would welcome the chance to play this course again. It was one of the most pleasant surprises of my golfing career.
Aura – 8 out of 10 – Watch the photo album the course provides and I am guessing you’d likely tell me 8 is not high enough.
Value (cost / experience) – 9 out of 10. The round cost me $60. I would shudder to think how much a course like this would cost me in Ontario where I live.
Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – Fairways were not mown down to resemble Augusta national and rough was not at a US Open level. Bunkering was fair and not too penal. Landing areas were fair and generous and this course was designed to support public play while challenging top players through tee boxes which accurately reflects gaps in skill. There are vacation cottages around the course but they are set back behind the tree lined fairways and did not come into play – 8 out of 10
Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – I have not played a course which is more visually appealing. I’d definitely make time to play this course again if I was in the area –8 out of 10
Highlight (what is great about the course) – Holes 4, 5, 10 and 17 are stunning golf holes. The staff were so helpful allowing me to make this round possible given my itinerary.
Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – bugs were a challenge but that’s what spray is for and this isn’t exactly an urban location (and that is just fine!!)
My Best Shot – Hole 18, all three of us hit superb drives to the middle of the fairway on this closing par 5. However, when we got down to our balls, mine was the only one on the fairway. We soon found out there is a fox that has a strong affinity for golf balls (and likely has assembled quite a collection). We agreed a free drop for the other two was a fair decision! A closing par ended a strong 9 and a solid 82 on a great course!