Bob Weeks advised us years back (on April 1, mind you) that the Canadian Open would be moved to Pippy Park’s Admiral’s Green course. The course may not exactly hold up to PGA standards but the hospitality which people can expect if traveling to St. John’s to play golf is sensational and is world class. The real takeaway here is be sure to read the date in which a golf article is published (and ignore all April 1 posts!). I have written about my positive experience on the west side of the Island, playing Humber Valley. This course will not make bucket lists but make no mistake, it is a fun golf experience based within the city limits.
The first thing I did upon arrival was prepare a 30 second video which panned around the city from the clubhouse. The clubhouse is set on a crown which overlooks the city including Signal Hill and the ocean to the east. This all culminates with the jaw-dropping par 3 7th hole, which rivals any par 3 I have experienced in terms of beauty and challenge. I suspect the drop from tee to green is about 100 feet and even on a relatively wind-free day (so my playing partners advised) it was a two club breeze. My playing partners, three local seniors, all smiled when seeing my reaction to this hole and the view of the city beyond it; I was in stunned disbelief.
Pippy Park is an understated and approachable golf course. The conditions are good and the course, while walkable, will demand players navigate the up and down of the crown of land which the course is set on. Many holes are generous off the tee and the greens were in very good condition. The layout has some subtle quirkiness to it, especially along the back nine where there is an odd convergence of a few holes in one spot. Trust me, it is nothing that will spoil the experience.
Club rentals are possible, and it is possible for players to get higher end rentals if they wish. Traveling with shoes, a glove, six balls and a few tees I was more than prepared for a relaxing afternoon of golf. The course appealed to me due to its proximity to the airport. And with players who were comfortable playing ready golf we were able to complete our round under 4 hours. There are a couple more blind tees shots than I would have liked but the course was enjoyable, provided enough challenge to engage and afforded views of the city which make the greens fees an absolute bargain.
As I look back over my afternoon at Pippy Park, it was one of the most unique and enjoyable golf experiences I have had in some time. The variety of golf holes – long/short; narrow/grip it and rip it; and uphill/downhill – makes for a round which will force you to use all the clubs in your bag.
Aura -6 out of 10 – The par 3 7th should make this grade higher and in my research of where to play in St. John’s I did not see an image of this hole. It would have cemented my decision.
Value (cost / experience) – 8 out of 10. Greens fees and club rental for under $60? Sign me up. Again, not a top 100 course but a fun, relaxed golf experience with panoramic views of the city worth the greens fees alone.
Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – Surprisingly nice. I saw grounds crew on the course working diligently to keep the course looking and playing well. – 7 out of 10
Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – This was more fun than I expected and that is not to detract from the course, I simply did not have expectation – good or bad. However, I know there are a couple other courses in St. John’s I would like to experience but I do hope I can return one day. Based on my criteria (how did the round make me feel) I’d have to say it is well worth a return trip. –7.5 out of 10
Highlight (what is great about the course) – The view on 7 is breathtaking. The convenience of being so close to downtown is a bonus for the traveler. And the people are so gracious and welcoming.
Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – A minor issue but I wish rental sets had a sand wedge. Playing with a PW as my lowest loft club required some creativity.
Just The Facts
• My cabbie had not been to Pippy Park before so the cab ride should be about $20 from the airport. It is about 20 minutes to downtown from there so convenience is outstanding
• The pro shop is well equipped. A complementary course guide was a real nice treat.
• There are two courses at Pippy Park – the full length 18 hole Admiral’s Green course and a nine-hole course named Captain Hill
• While the season starts late, the fall is a nice time to play and is surprisingly an extended season in St. John’s
• Par 3’s are all impressive; I feel these are the strength of the course.
• Weather in NL can vary. Even within my round I had taken my coat on and off a few times. And have a toque packed in the bag, even in the summer.