We love playing golf, anytime, anywhere! One of our favorite events we've grown to love is the Parrsboro Open held at the impossibly difficult Parrsboro Golf Club. This tiny 9 hole course mixes stunning ocean vistas that mesmerize you overlooking the highest tides in the World ( The Bay of Fundy) and nasty slanted greens that leave you scratching your head wondering how you just 4 putted for the second time!
This year's event was the 41st Open and is home to some of the most welcoming locals you will ever meet. You can sense it upon arrival from the scents of home baked delights like cinnamon rolls and strawberry short cake, to the warm smiles of those who are happy to see you and welcome you back! The course is run almost exclusively by volunteers and its very lean budget keeps business running. The greens were exceptional and the new greenskeeper has done an amazing job learning his trade and getting mentored from some of the best Superintendents in the region.
Open means OPEN, it's one of the few Professional Stroke events where Touring Professionals (Not just local Club Pros) are welcome and encouraged to participate. This year's Pro division included one very recognizable player, PEI's LPGA Hall of Famer, Lorie Kane. Known for her easy going spirit and being a consummate ambassador for the game, Lorie said after experiencing the event she was "Looking forward to returning again next year".
The vibe of the event is very community based. Locals flock to the hills to follow popular pairings and the weekend used to include a dance at the clubhouse. The Dance was a great time and usually aided in missed tee times on Sunday morning! The tournament has two challenges, survive Friday and Saturday night as cottage parties are everywhere and survive Parrsboro's treacherous greens to hopefully shoot Par and possibly win it all! Level Par is often the winning score on the old scorecard which is 66, the new rating and scorecard is 62, but locals don't recognize the new ratings which turn most of the old Par 4's into long par 3's. More on this later.
Part of the hype about this particular event is the course itself. A nine holer like no other, it features multiple blind shots, slanted greens, driveable par 4's and on first glance appears to be a fairly benign layout. Once you play it, you soon learn there are many odd bounces, quirky chips and diabolical putts that even the best in the business will find ultra challenging. Local Pro Brian Affleck who is a multi time champion shot his lowest score ever during the first time he played it, sight unseen. Not many courses can say they get more difficult the more often you play it!!
Parrsboro's challenges are part of its mystique, the most talked about hole by far is number 7, a 205 yard-par 3, blind tee shot, down hill thriller. It features an apple tree in the top right corner of the green (They mow the green around it) often blocking putts and chips that were errantly left on the right side of the green. The green itself is pitched steeply from front to back and mirrors the downhill slope making hitting this green virtually impossible. As frustrating as it may be, people rejoice their pars like birdies and birdies feel like hole in ones! Another unique hole is #2, an uphill 213 yard Par 3 that's a blind shot with ocean running adjacently to the left on a 100 foot cliff the entire way up to the green, with another insanely slanted green sloping from front to back and tilted right to left. Stats from last year's Pro division over two days calculated the average score at 4.35 to give you a sense of how challenigng this often windy exposed hole can be! Similar to number 7, this green often pays for 2's on a scorecard in the skins game.
Steve Boyce who is Chairman of the event often challenges Pros to a simple bet (This usually occurs at one of the cottage parties) "Pay us $1000 and shoot par here, we will pay you $10000 back. So far no one has taken him on this challenge. This would be on the new score card of Par 62. We believe this challenge is still ongoing and pretty serious!
The tournament is usually won or lost on its final three holes, which was no different this year. Back to back Par 3's with blind tee shots, both holes 7 and 8 are a combined 445 yards (205yds and 240yds respectively) and and final hole is a blind uphill Par 3 which is 160 yards with a tree halfway up the hill shielding the green. There are only two options for a shot, up and over the tree or shape a ball around it! Often the champion has made all 3's to secure a W with second and third bogeying one or more to lose!
If you are looking to play in Nova Scotia while experiencing East Coast hospitality and home cooked meals, this is the event you need to pencil into your calender for 2021! We hope to see you there.