Glasgow Hills – The Gentle Island’s Formidable Beauty
My first trip to Glasgow Hills was three years before I was able to tee it up. The drive up to the clubhouse is majestic; with views of the River Clyde, the surrounding countryside and the spectacularly maintained Les Furber designed layout. It was a long wait and there was much anticipation from my first visit with my daughter for a lovely dinner date to a stunning fall afternoon in 2015 where I could actually tee it up and play this beautiful course. And make no mistake, Glasgow Hills is beautiful. On a clear, sunny day the views from the clubhouse patio are some of the best on the Island. Looking over the perfectly manicured course, I was ready to play this course.
My expectations were exceptionally high – based on anticipation and the stunning drive in to what is a beautiful clubhouse. It was quiet on this fall afternoon and staff were able to get us set up and on our way quickly and easily. New Glasgow is very close to the popular tourist area near Cavendish, and for golfers, very close to other championship courses. However, despite this proximity, Glasgow Hills has uniqueness to it and design elements which make this course extremely challenging.
The front nine is expansive and enjoyable in its routing, diversity of golf holes and how it routes back past the clubhouse to a relatively flat area west of the clubhouse. This tree-lined section of the course is well designed and very fun to play. Make your score count on the front because the back begins a challenge that reflects the real teeth of this course and makes the 134 slope rating from the tips very honest. Being new to the course, we played the downhill 10th very conservatively and the approach on this par 4 is a beautiful shot to carry over a valley to the green. But it was the par 3 13th which starts a stretch of holes which will challenge golfers of all skill level, and it is here we realized we may have been better off playing one tee forward. 3 woods and strong hybrids all failed to reach this long par 3. While a straight forward golf hole it was the start of a challenging stretch. Actually, 13-16 may be on the most challenging stretches of golf holes on the Island, showing the tightness of the back nine as it runs down and back up the hillside. After an awkward uphill 17th, the course finishes strong with a great closing hole that sets you up at the clubhouse and a chance to gather at the 19th hole to reflect on an enjoyable round of golf and a memorable golfing experience.
Reflecting back, the two nines are truly different. The back nine demands more accuracy tee to green. Overall, the course conditioning was excellent. The views from the clubhouse patio over the course reflect the consistency of conditioning throughout Glasgow Hills. From past experience, the food at the course is exceptional but with it being late in the season the dining room was closed. Quick thinking allowed us to enjoy a very short drive to New Glasgow Lobster Supper for a sensational seafood meal (again). It capped off a great afternoon and a wonderful experience at Glasgow Hills, which truly is one of the more formidable, beautiful courses on the Island.
Aura – 7.5 out of 10 – Visiting this course in 2012, it really whet my appetite for PEI golf. I was well aware of perennial national favourites, Crowbush and Dundarave, but to find a course like this with its strong visual appeal, I knew when I was able to travel to PEI this course was on my must play list.
Value (cost / experience) – 7.5 out of 10 – This course, perhaps more than any other we played on the Island, brought strong diversity of opinion. I felt it was a strong and fair test of golf with great diversity of golf holes bound together by exceptional quality and design elements from Furber which make the greenside areas all fair and approachable. The costs were exceptional and I left feeling satisfied about my golfing experience.
Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 8.5 out of 10 – Furber’s ability to effectively use lands west of the clubhouse from holes 6-9 reduce the tightness throughout the course and provide some nice diversity from the elevation change, which Furber was able to mitigate in most cases and utilize effectively for the most part. The conditioning was exceptional. All aspects – tee boxes, fariways, bunkers, and greens – were exceptional. The holes present themselves clearly with regard to possible trouble. A strong finishing hole created a good feeling after the round.
Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – 7.5 out of 10 – I had a fun golfing experience at Glasgow Hills. The course challenged my game and provided me some of the best scenery on the Island. The staff are very nice; helpful and professional. The course provides strong diversity of golf holes. I feel we picked the wrong tee box and this may have made the golf experience a little more challenging than I really wanted on a golf vacation. The blue tees were a challenge for a series of 10 handicappers, but maybe it was that this was our 7th round of golf in 4 days? Still, I’d like to return. Course knowledge can go a long way here.
Highlight (what is great about the course) – The location is ideal. The conditioning is among the best on the Island. And the people were outstanding. I really liked the diversity of golf holes and welcomed the challenge which the tougher back nine brought in terms of design and playability. Proximity to New Glasgow Lobster Supper was a bonus and one we took advantage of given the dining room was closed. That said, I have experienced their dining room and it is its own highlight.
Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – There is no denying that the 17th tee shot is spectacular. Sitting high over the landing area, it is impressive. But it is a golf hole that I would – as the question asked – change if I had a magic wand. The slope uphill afterward is significant and makes for three target-type shots. It just felt to me this hole could benefit from some design tweaks. Following such a strong stretch from 13-16, and between what I felt was one of the better closing holes on the Island, 17 seemed a little out of place to me. It did not detract from my enjoyment at Glasgow Hills, in fact, I look forward to the chance to tackle this hole and this course again.