The International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) has named Prince Edward Island as the 2011 Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year. The announcement headlined the organization’s annual Awards Gala Dinner in Valencia, Spain earlier today.
“While Prince Edward Island has been known nationally as Canada’s #1 Golf Destination for years, we are thrilled to receive this award that will let the rest of the world in on one of golf’s best kept secrets,” said Barry MacLeod, Chief Operating Officer for Golf Prince Edward Island. “We’re a golf destination that offers it all; in fact, close to 80% of first time golfers to the Island return within four years, a statistic that speaks volumes about our golf product,” adds MacLeod.
The ‘Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year’ Award is announced as part of the International Golf Travel Market, the golf travel industry’s annual trade show. It is administered by IAGTO and voted on by 150 members of the International Golf Travel Writers Association. Tasked with identifying an “undiscovered gem” among the world’s golf destinations, members assess each nomination against the following criteria:
- To what extent the destination is “undiscovered”;
- Qualities that make it an interesting golf destination;
- Attractiveness of the region and courses;
- Quality and accessibility of the courses;
- Standard of accommodations;
- Friendliness of the staff;
- Value for money and Speed of Play
The top six finalists for the 2011 award were Prince Edward Island, Bulgaria, Colombia, Iceland, Mississippi, and Sweden. Other nominations included Abu Dhabi, Alberta, the Azores, Cambodia, Denmark, South West England, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, India, Sardinia Italy, Venetia-Tarvisiano, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, and the US Virgin Islands. Brazil captured the 2010 Undiscovered Award.
So what sets Prince Edward Island apart from the competition? As Canada’s smallest province, PEI is just a two hour flight east of Toronto. Set in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it is an undiscovered golf haven where a trip to the beach takes less than fifteen minutes in any direction; where dining on fresh lobsters, oysters, scallops and mussels is commonplace; where first-rate music and unique hand-crafted treasures are found around every bend; and where golfers can hone their game on some of the world’s most beautiful golf courses. From the air, PEI even looks like one giant golf course with expanses of green speckled with sand and water traps and interspersed with wood lots.
The Island features dozens of top-rated courses designed by renowned architects including Graham Cooke, Robbie Robinson, Les Furber, Thomas McBroom, Jeff Fuller, Stanley Thompson, William G. Robinson, Rob Heaslip, and the team of Dr Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry. In fact, there are 32 courses, each with distinct character, layout, design, all within thirty minutes from Charlottetown, PEI’s capital city. Canada’s influential Globe and Mail has designated Prince Edward Island as home to 10 of the top 100 courses in all of Canada. According to Golf Digest, Island courses account for nearly 5 per cent of the top 350 courses in North America. Whether looking for links golf, river golf, or woodland or parkland courses, PEI offers it all.
Known as the ‘Birthplace of Canada’, PEI is a blend of Scottish, Irish, Mi’kmaq, and Acadian cultures. Rooted in the traditions of land and sea, it is North America’s second largest producer of potatoes and exports some of the world’s leading oyster and mussel brands. Home to L.M. Montgomery’s internationally acclaimed Anne of Green Gables, PEI is a charming destination of incredible natural beauty. Lush farming landscapes are enclosed by a coastline dotted with historic lighthouses overlooking untouched beaches and some of the warmest waters north of South Carolina. The Island is a collage of historic traditions, culinary delights, festivals, recreational pursuits, performing arts, and artisan craftwork. Harness racing, theatre, lobster or tuna fishing, water sports, or tours of moonshine, Chocolate or potato vodka factories are just a sample of the diverse activities to be experienced. In recent years, PEI has earned an international reputation among ‘foodies’ for incredible seafood and other culinary wonders. Above all, the hospitality of Islanders is unmatched.
“PEI’s compact geography is a perfect option for those who want to minimize travel and maximize the destination experience,” says MacLeod. “Golfers can comfortably get in 36 holes and still take advantage of a wide array of après golf activities. It truly is the complete golf destination.”
The Island’s lure is perhaps best described by Ian Cruickshank, a Toronto-based golf writer:
“I’ve spent the last 20 years chasing a little white ball around the globe. I’ve teed it up in the shaggy dunes of Ireland, played through a mob of kangaroos in Australia, shanked drives in the stark Arizona desert, and putted in the shadows of the Rocky Mountain peaks. I’ve enjoyed them all, but there is one place that I come back to year after year and that’s Prince Edward Island.”
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