Location: 15933 Central Avenue, Inverness, Novia Scotia, B0E 1N0, Canada
Phone number: 1 855 652 2268
Set along a golden beach on the windswept western coast of Novia Scotia, a stunning retreat for the serious golfer lies waiting. Cabot Links is focused on its courses – Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs – which are set on dramatic coastal clifftops and alongside a two-mile-long beach in the remote village of Inverness, Cape Breton in far east Canada. It is the most talked about new golf resort in the world over the past five years, according to Canadian golf writer Dave Finn.
“When opened in 2012, Cabot Links was Canada’s only authentic links course,” Finn said. “Using the site of an old coal mine, architect Rod Whitman created a magnificent 18-hole, par-70 course. Six holes play directly along the coastline, and every other hole overlooks the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“Cabot Links is both stunning and challenging, with fescue galore. Rule No.1 – keep it on the fairway. Rule No. 2 – bring lots of balls. The greens, averaging over 45 yards (41 meters) deep, are so large that you are actually allowed to take pull carts on them (since power carts are not permitted on either course).”
The goal for architects Whitman for Cabot Links and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw for Cabot Cliffs (which was completed in 2016), was to create true links courses as seamlessly as possible using the coastal environment. They embraced the natural contours of the sandy-soiled land to build undulating fairways and greens as well as spectacular elevated tees.
There’s a variety of terrain at Cabot Cliffs as well as some severe elevation changes. You’ll play past the beach, sand dunes, cliff tops, pine forest and meandering rivers. The beauty was almost overwhelming for Golf Digest’s Ron Whitten who felt “giddy” on the ninth.
“Midway through my maiden round at Cabot Cliffs . . . I’d already played through four landscapes, from highlands to river valley to sand dunes to pine trees and was now standing on the ninth tee, facing a short iron downhill to a cliff-edge green backdropped by the shimmering Gulf of St. Lawrence.”
Cabot Cliffs and Cabot Links both made Golf Digest’s list of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the World 2016-17, coming in at 19 and 93 respectively.
Embrace effective links-style play to keep the score down on both courses. The windy conditions mean you should keep the ball trajectory down, hit bump and runs and putt from off the green where necessary. Some of the greens are enormous here, so three putting is not always a bad result. Caddies are also available to help with local knowledge.
When to play:
Being in north-east Canada, the golf season runs from early May until late October between the chilly winter.
Par: Cabot Links: 70
Cabot Cliffs: 72
Cabot Links: 6854 yards, 6267 meters
Cabot Cliffs: 6764 yards, 6185 meters
Cabot Links: 132. Cabot Cliffs: 144
Cabot Links: 73.7. Cabot Cliffs: 74.3
Cabot Cliffs’ 16th hole (176 yards, 161 meters) is one of the most picturesque holes in Canada. It’s an intimidating tee shot to a green that has ocean cliff on all but the left side, and the flag position and wind will determine how you play it. For Cabot Links, the long 6th is another much-photographed hole, with views of the harbor on the left side of the dog-leg par 4 and behind the infinity green. Another postcard moment.
The general manager says: “What really sets the courses apart is how the landscape lended itself so naturally to golf … Another important aspect of both courses is their playability. The courses are playable for high handicappers but are also very challenging for competitive and professional golfers alike.” – Andrew Alkenbrack
The resort experience:
Golfers are in for a truly memorable couple of rounds at Cabot Links, but the resort is built to enhance the experience. There are beautiful views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from both the main hotel rooms and the separate villas. Golfers will find three restaurants to choose from as well as a café in the town. The resort sits in the quiet town of Inverness, along the vaunted Cabot Trail, a spectacular 185-mile (298-kilometer) road-trip that loops through Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
Dine and wine:
Expect fresh seafood at the restaurants here. Guests can often watch the lobster boats arrive back and then order something from the haul later. The Panorama Restaurant (upscale dining featuring ocean views) and Cabot Bar (casual fare, fine wines and whiskies) overlook Cabot Links’ 18th green and have tremendous views of the entire course. At Panorama, which also has tables with great ocean views, I’ll be ordering the Cape Breton Seafood Chowder (scallops, lobster, haddock, bacon and potatoes) with a Wente Chardonnay. The Cabot Public House has craft beers, pub food and live music. In town, you can enjoy soups, salads, fresh bread, coffee and desserts at Downstreet Café.
Designed by Nova Scotia architect Susan Fitzgerald and interior designer Alexandra Angle, the 72-room Cabot Links Lodge was constructed using local timber and cedar. The rooms offer floor-to-ceiling ocean views and all the modern creature comforts are included inside, such as Italian Terry robes, rainfall showers, Wi-Fi, 46in TVs and pillow-top beds. Rooms start at the Cabot Double, which has a sitting area with lounge chair, writing desk and credenza, through to the more luxurious Deluxe King Balcony with king bed and outdoor terrace. Bigger groups may opt for the two-bedroom and four-bedroom Villas, which also offer majestic views of Cabot Links as well as the ocean. You’ll get your own kitchen and private deck. Families can also rent four- and five-bedroom residences a short distance from the resort.
This is a playground for outdoors types. Try horseback riding, fly fishing, whale watching, kayaking, deep-sea fishing or even learning a traditional Cape Breton square dance. I can see myself doing that after taking a nearby whisky distillery tour. For the more romantic, let the resort pack you a picnic basket lunch and spend some special time overlooking the ocean together.