When most Canadians think of Newfoundland (outside of the Maritimes of course), we often envision a remote island better known for its temperamental weather, nomadic icebergs, humpback whales, Newfie screech and being the last province to join confederation. We certainly don’t think of Newfoundland as a place one would visit to play golf. Like the rest of the country however, Newfoundland has experienced its own golf development boom and now boasts twenty courses across the province – with many more on the way.
The newest addition to Newfoundland’s fine collection of golf courses is the River Course at the Humber Valley Resort. Located along Newfoundland’s rugged west coast 20 minutes north of Deer Lake, the development is the brainchild of Canadian entrepreneur, Brian Dobbin of CHC Helicopter fame. I had the pleasure of playing a round of golf with Mr. Dobbin during my visit to the resort last summer. When asked to share his vision about the project that encompasses over 2,000 acres and 300 home sites, his response was simple: “our goal is to provide an unsurpassed Canadian wilderness adventure”. Through his development company, Newfound, he has certainly lived up to his promise as this new world-class resort is attracting individuals and families from the U.K, Europe, and the U.S. in search of a unique holiday experience. Imagine staying in your own 3,000 square foot chalet residence situated on its own private 1-acre lot overlooking 35 kilometre Deer Lake or the spectacular golf course.
Humber Valley is not your typical resort. In fact, referring to this place as a “resort” is somewhat misleading. There are no swimming pools, swim-up bars, all-you-can-eat buffets or any of the other decadent indulgences you would find at a packaged all-inclusive getaway. Humber Valley deliberately prides itself on being exactly the opposite. This is an eco-adventure, a nature lover’s outdoor paradise designed for those who want something different. Outdoor activities include salmon fishing on the Lower Humber River, alpine skiing at adjacent Marble Mountain, water sports on Deer Lake, hiking, snowmobiling, rock climbing, and of course, golf.
It was the golf course that brought me to the Humber Valley Resort. Designed by award winning architect Doug Carrick, I knew that this place was going to be special. Known simply as the “River Course” this may be Carrick’s best work to date. This is saying a lot considering this is the man responsible for such outstanding designs as Muskoka Bay, Bigwin Island and Eagle’s Nest. In true Carrick fashion, his latest design blends effortlessly with the pristine Newfoundland surroundings, weaving naturally 7,199 yards along the northern shore of Deer Lake and the Humber River.
The first four holes provide a wonderful introduction to the golf course. By the time you reach the 232-yard, par 3, 5th hole you have descended 300 feet from the first tee only to arrive along the shoreline of Deer Lake. This challenging par 3 is one of the most memorable holes on the golf course as your tee shot must carry over 200 yards across the beach and lake to a narrow peninsula green.
The 6th hole begins the long and gradual climb up from the lake to the backdrop of the Humber Valley Mountains. Often played into the prevailing wind, the remaining holes on the front side play as long, or longer, than the yardage indicated on the scorecard.
The front nine is approximately 300 yards longer than the back side and generally plays 2-3 shots more difficult. This is not to suggest the back nine is a walk in the park. Far from it. Just wait until you stand up to hit your tee shot on the 10th hole.
If it’s not already, the 458-yard, par 4, 10th hole at Humber Valley Resort may be the most breathtaking hole in Canadian golf. Sure you’ve probably heard a golf writer coin this phrase before but I’m willing to bet many would agree with me. Falling 200 feet from tee to green, what makes this hole so incredibly special is the view you have through the Humber Valley. To put things in perspective, imagine hitting a tee shot off a 20-story building. Add the scenic backdrop of a heavily wooded valley that extends for as far as the eye can see and you get the picture. This is an unforgettable hole.
In contrast to the front side, the back nine is a little tighter as it weaves its way through the low-lying wooded valleys of the area. Spectacular mountain views can be seen on every hole and the presence of Deer Lake and the rushing Humber River are never further than an earshot away.
At the conclusion of your round don’t be in too much of a rush to get on your way. I’d highly recommend having a drink on the patio of the Eagle’s Perch Clubhouse and reliving the moment you experienced on the 10th tee.
As with any world-class resort, Humber Valley offers other fine amenities for its guests. In addition to the clubhouse, guests can dine at the Beach House Restaurant, the more casual Sully’s Pub, or the 4-star Strawberry Hill Resort – a Newfoundland landmark that has hosted the likes of Pierre Trudeau, Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth. Those in search of the “ultimate relaxation experience” should visit the resort’s Found Spa – one of the few Aveda Concept Spas in eastern Canada.
Like any great vacation destination, there will be much more to do at Humber Valley than the time you likely have available. If you are able to find a free morning or afternoon, I would highly recommend a trip up the west coast along the Viking Trail to Gros Morne National Park. Located 2 hours from the resort, Gros Morne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses over 800 square kilometres in Western Newfoundland along the banks of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Be sure you travel inland into the heart of the park on a boat tour. Here you will see towering Precambrian cliffs that rise thousands of feet above land-locked fjords.
Getting to Deer Lake and the Humber Valley Resort has never been easier. In fact, I was able to get to Deer Lake in less time than it would take to fly to Orlando, Florida. Both Air Canada and WestJet offer direct flights from Pearson International Airport to Deer Lake. For the avid golfer, you can leave Toronto and be on the first tee at Humber Valley in just over four hours.
If you’re tired of the commute to your favorite golf course outside of the GTA, just remind yourself, by the time you pack your car, sit in traffic on any of the Ontario 400-series highways, and get settled at your cottage or chalet, you could be at one of the most beautiful places on earth in roughly the same amount of time. Remember, Newfoundland’s Humber Valley Resort is closer than you think.
Regular direct flights from Toronto, Montreal and Halifax to Deer Lake Regional Airport via Air Canada and WestJet.
Humber Valley Resort Information:
To Book a Tee Time:
Eagle’s Perch Pro Shop – 709-686-1090
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism: