The Algonquin Resort located in the charming town of St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea in the southeast of New Brunswick became a popular destination for east coast travellers sometime in the 1920’s when Donald Ross essentially built a brand new golf course over an existing layout. Nearly 70 years later Canada’s Tom McBroom came in and did the same thing Ross did; he built a new golf course over the previous version. Now, another 30 years later, Rod Whitman (also from Canada) re-worked Algonquin yet again.
While not as comprehensive as Ross or McBroom’s overhauls (the majority of McBroom’s routing remains), the changes have been seen as positive with the resort being reinstated in SCOREGolf’s 2020 Top 100 list, at 69th no less.
For those who have not played since Whitman’s re-working in 2018, the front nine routing is largely the same. Starting out, the 434-yard par 4, 1st tumbles down a hill.
The approach shot is a tad awkward (likewise for the tee shot) because of a pond to the right of the green, which is hard to see from the tee and makes the downhill wedge pretty difficult from the get-go.
The 2nd is a healthy golf hole at 450 yards. Doglegging right around a hazard, the tee shot demands your full attention early.
The approach shot is also difficult, playing uphill. With a bit of relief, the green almost feels like a baby Punchbowl green, but the same hazard still runs up the right and will come into play for most golfers.
The 3rd is the first of the excellent changes. A sporty, subdued par 3, this 209 yarder has some beautiful fescue short of the hole that seems to merge visually with the front edge.
In reality, there is quite a bit of space available.
The 4th is a creative par 4 at 440 yards. Doglegging to the left, a big bunker on the outside guards the right-handed weak fade.
The approach shot is quite attractive, too. Rod Whitman and Keith Cutten’s bunkering was inspired by Donald Ross, and given the lost Golden Age charm following McBroom’s renovation, it was nice to get that back. Sod faced bunkers on the East Coast are particularly attractive, as they are here.
The fall off on the right is epic and is said to have been inspired by Ross’ nearby The Riverside, which has fall offs around various greens. Perhaps one of the single best features of a Rod Whitman golf course is the ability to use putter around the greens, and run offs like this are very welcomed.
Following a very strong four hole opening stretch, the 567-yard par 5, 5th is a gentle, wide downhill tee shot with a beautiful view of the ocean.
The gentle downhill tee shot is paired with a slightly more intense (slightly uphill) approach shot.
As the golfer gets closer to the green, the hazards ramp up the difficulty considerably and begin to move in towards the ideal line.
The 6th climbs back to the gathering point at the 4th green/5th tee, and thus makes the 414- yard par 4 play quite a bit longer.
The approach shot is also uphill, but visually, it can be tough to understand what is going on. Personally, I’m a fan of reduced visuals in doses. It’s a sneaky way architects can warrant repeat play, and as long as we aren’t continually blocked out as a player, it can provide excitement.
With yet another beefy par 4, the 7th is perhaps my second favourite hole on the front nine, following the par 4, 4th. At 446 yards, an inviting fairway feels like a great time to hit a big drive.
With a brilliant green tucked into the bottom of a hill, the approach shot is incredibly attractive. I really like the green surrounds as well, wrapped with short grass. In firm conditions, right may come back, while short and left could prove to be treacherous.
At 219 yards, the 8th is a good length par 3 flanked with a hazard up the left. It’s a bit of a sleeper golf hole, especially considering the holes that you just played, but even the best albums have interludes and reprieves.
The 9th is a short par 5 at 500 yards, and a nice way to finish the front nine. The tee shot is attractive, with a nice bend to the left.
Unfortunately, the latter half of the 9th is one of the few parts of the golf course unchanged, and thus does not match stylistically or aesthetically. The layup, or for those who can get home in two, is significantly less attractive than a majority of the front nine.
The 10th is the first of the two holes that were re-routed and on the short list for the absolute best holes at Algonquin. At first glance, it appears to share characteristics with Macdonald/Raynor’s Redan, but it doesn’t have the constant kicker slope to help guide the ball. The biggest difference I see is Whitman was much more comfortable with the idea of unpredictability in the ground. While other renditions of the Redan are much more “hit it here and it’ll end here, at 230 yards, though, a kicker slope on the right looks awfully appealing.
Due to the re-routing of the 10th, the 11th is a brand new golf hole. At 580 yards, this is easily in the discussion for one of Canada’s best par 5’s, and overall, would make my Eclectic 18 in the 11th hole spot.
After the uphill tee shot around the big bunker on the left, the golfer will have the chance to get home in two regardless of the length. The hole then tumbles down towards the Passamaquoddy Bay, and if you wanted, you could borderline putt the golf ball from 200 yards out.
With a green seemingly perched over the Atlantic Ocean, it is a wonderful spot to roll putts.
If you have ever seen photos of Algonquin chances are it is of the 12th hole. An attractive par 3 measuring 175 yards, the downhill, drop shot with the ocean background is stunning. Whitman and his team altered the green orientation and bunker setup to provide a better aesthetic.
A better look at the green.
Continuing the epic seaside stretch, the 494-yard par 5, 13th is a great chance at birdie. With the ocean on the right and a heavily sloped left-to-right fairway, this tee shot is quite attractive.
The second shot is just splendid, with two bunkers blending in with the sight lines of the front edge, making depth perception difficult.
From the left, the great reveal is that the bunkers are actually in the layup area.
The 14th brings the golfer away from the ocean and heads back inland. Another lengthy par 3 at 202 yards, the hole probably plays a half club uphill.
When you get to the 15th tee, take a look and admire the view looking back down to the 14th and 13th.
The 15th is a 402-yard dogleg left par 4 with a bit of an awkward tee shot.
The second shot is attractive, working slightly up the hill.
Some might be disappointed at Algonquin leaving the ocean on the 13th hole, but without leaving the ocean, we would not get the privilege to see the excellent 460-yard par 4, 16th. A really interesting tee shot, bunkers up the right make this swing demanding.
With a great view looking towards Maine, the second shot is ever-so-slightly downhill.
Making our way back home, the 547-yard par 4, 17th is another good change with a string of centreline bunkers slipping the fairway into the left and right options for one last tee shot decision.
The second shot plays downhill, gently, and allows the bigger hitter to get home in two after a strong drive.
For my eye, the 17th green is one of the more attractive looks at the Algonquin, with a set of bunkers up the left.
Like the 9th, the 18th is one of the least touched holes by Rod Whitman. The 364-yard par 4 uphill finisher is a tighter tee shot, but suits the hole’s length and orientation.
With bunkers on the left and right, it’s obvious the hole is out of character. But money is limited, and renovation has to come in waves. Here’s hoping the crew comes back in a few years and updates this hole.
Overall, Algonquin’s changes are a massive improvement. The golf course now has some wonderful short game surrounds, excellent putting surfaces, and the Ross-inspired bunkers really fit with the East Coast vibe of not only the golf course, but the town, which is a lot of fun.
I visited in the last weekend of the season (first weekend of November), and the golf course was in great shape, allowing the architecture to shine.
For those who are planning a road trip, Algonquin is the perfect stop over on the way to Cape Breton. Featuring one of the best 4 hole stretches in Canada starting at the 10th, it is well worth your effort to get here.