07 JUN 2017: Golfers have flocked to the rugged shores of Quebec’s Charlevoix region since the 1800s, when wealthy Americans packed up their families and maids and boarded steamer cruise ships that plied the St. Lawrence River to the elegant Manoir Richelieu for the summer. They came to this scenic region, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, 150 kilometres east of Quebec City, to hike, picnic, golf, fish and breathe in the intoxicating fresh air that former US president William Taft quipped was like champagne but without the hangover next morning.  

Le Manoir Richelieu Golf Course was inaugurated on June 18, 1925 by President Taft, who spent his summers in the region of Pointe-au-Pic. The course was originally designed by the English golf architect Herbert Strong.

Today, the course, set high on a cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence, boasts 27 rugged, roller coaster fairways. Your adventure begins with a 1.5-km. cart ride winding up the Panoramic Trail to the clubhouse. Tee it up from the elevated tees on the newest nine, the Saint-Laurent, and let gravity do the work as your ball plummets down the steep fairway to a green jutting into the mighty St. Lawrence River.

Architect Darrell Huxham deserves raves not only for the giddying ride on the Saint-Laurent but also for his brilliant refurbishment of the existing tighter Richelieu and Tadoussac tracks where your aim will determine your score. Tadoussac, the most challenging of the three nines, plays past the original clubhouse, now an astronomy observatory. The ninth is a memorable finale requiring a tee shot over a canyon. Due to the rollicking elevation changes, the resort uses a fleet of Club Cars outfitted with Excel Drive to ensure control on the steep paths.

I was surprised at the bargain green fees offered on such an outstanding track. Between July and August you can play 18 holes with a cart for between $75 and $119. The 2 Fore 1 Golf Package, $278 per night (May to July), includes room and a round of golf for two.

After 27 holes (trust me, you’ll want to play all of them), succumb to the gastronomic genius of chef Turcot at Le Charlevoix dining room. I suggest his tasting menu that includes many of the region’s specialties, such as cheese, lamb, emu and foie gras. The sommelier will help you navigate through the 500 bottles on the award-winning wine list.

For more vintage golf, head to the Murray Bay Golf Club, established in 1876 and one of the oldest in America.

Feeling lucky? The Charlevoix Casino is two minutes away.

 

 

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Anita Draycott

Quite aside from being an award winning writer, whose travel articles and photography regularly appear in golf and lifestyle publications and websites, Anita Draycott is a self confessed golf fanatic, who has chased dimpled white balls over five continents.  

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