I’m standing on the 13th tee facing a bit of a dilemma. Practically lapping at my feet, the immense Bay of Fundy awaits like a giant magnet all along the right-hand side of the fairway. To the left, a jungle of gorse and god knows what. Right then, I suppose there’s no other option except straight down the middle.
The Algonquin Golf course is legendary in these parts. Part of the equally legendary Algonquin Resort that lies at St. Andrews-by-the Sea a 10-minute drive away, it is considered to be the best golf course in New Brunswick.
Since 1894 errant golf balls have been swallowed up with no regard to the royals, nobles or celebrities that hit them. It just sits there with an attitude that says “Ok, you want to take me on? Go right ahead and knock yourself out.”
There’s no doubting this is a remarkable golf course considering its open to the winter Maritime elements five months a year. The fairways are lush, the greens are slick and undulating and now, thanks to an impressive amount of tinkering from golf architect Rod Whitman, it offers an even tougher challenge.
To my mind, there are two distinct sides to The Algonquin course. The front nine is mainly parkland; long green boulevards lined with spruce and pine and some giant bunkers defending the approaches. The greens and fairways are receptive to chip and runs and lofted pitches and I get the feel-good factor after playing nine, that perhaps this could be my day.
All that changes on the back nine when you come face to face with the Atlantic Ocean. It begins rather unassumingly with a par three albeit a long downhill one at 220 yards off the back tees. It does look like the green is hovering over the ocean behind but nevertheless; a confident swipe should get you there safely. The par five 11th (the sequence of three holes called Joe’s corner) begins with a blind hit and hope drive opening up to a stunning second, the whole bay laid out below. Then, of course, it’s a tricky third to a green literally overhanging water. A brilliant hole that rewards courage but you can score well with caution too. The next one is the legendary twelfth, a 150-yard par 3 comparable to Pebble Beach; high banked tees leading to a green jutting out into the bay with an undulating fairway ready to capture and bounce off anything short. A magical hole.
Which brings us neatly back to my 13th hole dilemma. I hold my breath and go for it. It’s a wonderful feeling seeing your ball power arrow-straight down the fairway splitting it in two. But my adventure isn’t over yet. The second shot has to be right of centre flirting with the water, there’s no other route. Another lucky shot straight out of the meat gets me in pole position for a very tough approach; a green surrounded on three sides by the ocean and guarded by three menacing bunkers. It’s that old problem rearing up again; don’t let all that hard work go to waste messing up a relatively short but tricky pitch shot. I commit to it and I’m rewarded with a birdie opportunity that sadly just misses the hole. Even so, I’m delighted with escaping with a solid par.
By the 18th I’m more than ready to fall into the welcoming arms of a renovated clubhouse that offers a very civilized terrace to relax with a drink and some tasty food.
The Algonquin Golf Club is far from a historic relic; she’s a thoroughbred that seems as pleased as punch with her new facelift and rightly so. A triumphant test of golf that leaves even the most crestfallen player the resolve they could and will do better next time.
All images except the featured image (C) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about The Algonquin Golf Club
The Algonquin Golf Club, 463 Brandy Cove Road, St. Andrews, New Brunswick Canada. E5B 2L6
T: 506 529 8165
18 Course Par: 72 Length: Black: 7,135 Yards, Gold: 6,652 Yards, Silver: 6,036 Yards, Ruby: 5,033 Yards.
May /October – 9 Holes $55.00 May/ October – 18 holes $80.00
June – September – 9 holes $75.00 June – September – 18 Holes $125.00
June – September Twilight – 18 holes $75.00