Glen Arbour golf course has been around for fifteen years and during that time it has hosted the most prestigious tournaments held in Atlantic Canada - the LPGA Canadian Open, the Telus Skins Game, Wayne Gretzky & Friends and others. There is a reason why - this is a great championship course.
Designed by one of Canada's pre-eminent golf architects (and amateur golfers), Graham Cooke, it is the show piece of the Glen Arbour property development. For a lot of people the thought playing a golf course that is part of a residential development is not appealing. However, banish those thoughts about Glen Arbour. For a so-called 'have not' province, golfers will be surprised at the quality of the luxury homes with their impeccable landscaping that surround some of the holes. The lots are very large and the houses do not impinge on the golf course; if anything they are an enhancement to the experience of playing Glen Arbour.
The clubhouse,sited just above one of the many lakes at Glen Arbour, is one of the largest in Nova Scotia with a very well stocked pro shop. The selection of golf clothing is certainly the best in the Halifax area if not the entire Province.
The Glen Arbour development features 'bundled' golf which means if you buy a property here you automatically get a membership. Since there are at present only 240 homes the only way this will work is by having a lot of guest rounds and the way to succeeed at that is to have a great course, competent and friendly staff and reasonable green fees. Glen Arbour has all three although at $105.00 per round in summer it is at the pricier end of Nova Scotia golf.
So what about the course? First of all it plays around no less than four lakes amidst a series of glacial ridges - what many would describe as classic Canadian topography. Loons nest on the lakes and eagles often soar overhead. The course is visually beautiful, particularly on a sunny summer day. Conditioning is top notch. The greens are undulating and can be very fast. There is one catch - it's very difficult, particularly the front nine. This is largely because there are a series of carries off the tee or on second shots on par fives that are at the absolute limit for the average golfer. Holes 3,4,5 and 6 all require long precision drives. Expect to lose a few balls, but also expect a real sense of accomplishment if you make those long carries.
No. 7 is one of the prettiest par 3's you'll find anywhere, although it too is all carry across a water lily filled pond.No. 9 is a great ending to the front nine with water all down the left side.
The back nine eases up somewhat with three par 3s, three par 4s and three par 5s. The par 5s are particularly outstanding, especially the finishing 18th. Graham Cooke really did shape a wonderful course out of this pristine wilderness and the reward has been that Glen Arbour has always consistently been rated in the top 100 courses in Canada.
So why don't I give this course the top rating? For two reasons. Firstly, it has always been a cart path only course which to my mind is completely stupid. Even in the best conditions carts have to remain on the paths. If you are in good shape the course is very walkable with no particularly long walks between holes, but there are a lot of up and downs. If you need a cart then the cart path rule will dimish your experience. The second reason is a bit of nitpicking, but it really did bug me - people are not replacing their divots. The lush fairways are underlain by a sand base so there are going to be lots of divots. Obviously it is not the course's fault that people don't have the courtesy to repair the divots, but probably because of the cart path rule
the carts don't have replacement sand holders and that contributes to the problem.
Despite these reservations, the bottom line is that this is a must play course in the Halifax area.
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