New resort puts Nova Scotia
at the forefront of golf
By G.N. Covella
Prior to the start of the new millennium, few golf purists would pencil in Nova Scotia as a bucket-list, must-visit destination. Granted, while the rolling, densely wooded landscape and seaside cliffs may provide some of the most picturesque terrain this side of Scotland, this tiny Canadian province did not stand out in a crowded field of world-glass golfing meccas.
But my-oh-my how things have changed.
In a region formerly more akin to fishing, camping – and in the winter, skiing – this Canadian territory off the northeast tip of the United States may just be one of the hottest golf destinations on the planet these days. And the explanation for this monumental turnaround can be summed up in five simple words …
Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs.
Since opening in 2012, the Rod Whitman-designed Links course – developed and owned by Ben Cowan-Dewar and Mike Keiser (who also developed the wildly popular Bandon Dunes in Oregon) – has been widely recognized as one of the best new courses on the globe. This July, the resort opened a second course for limited play, Cabot Cliffs, a much-ballyhooed track designed by the Ben Crenshaw-Bill Coore firm. The Cliffs design reinforces the reality that world-class golf now exists in the region.
“There seems to be a trend in the world of golf bringing us back to more minimalist designs and angled towards linksland style builds – timeless favorites,” explained Andrew Alkenbrack, general manager at the resort. “We think we have something special here and the early feedback has been overhwhelmingly positive.” To their credit, Cowan-Dewar and Keiser located what could be described as the perfect piece of land to construct two magnificent tracks. Breathtaking would be an accurate description of these courses that fit perfectly into the seaside landscape. In keeping with the tradition of old-time golf, there are no power carts on these courses; golfers can use a caddie, carry their own bag or use the two-wheel “trolleys,” pull carts during their round. For golf purists, this is as good as it gets.
exploration for our guests and an entrepreneurial spirit that is permeating the area that will lead to bigger and better things ahead,” he said. “We are also seeing an incredible passion for golf come to the fore, not only from our guests but also the local population – young students, retirees and summer residents – who will often caddy at Cabot throughout the golf season. You get a feeling here that everyone is in this together so it is truly a special time in this magnificent part of the world.”
The Golf Scene Across Nova Scotia.
The opening of the Cabot golf resort has breathed life into the Nova Scotia golf industry and its 57-member courses and shines a spotlight not only on the masterpieces in Inverness but other great tracks scattered across the province.
Following our flight from Philadelphia to Halifax, the first stop was The Lakes Course at Ben Eoin, situated on the banks of the East Bay in the northeast region of Cape Breton Island.
From there, the next stop was Highlands Links in Ingonish Beach, a Stanley Thompson design rated as one of Canada’s Top 10 golf courses - and then one round at LePortage in Cheticamp, located on the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
After three days at the Cabot resort – two rounds on the Links course and one round on the Cliffs – the final stop was at Antigonish Country Club in the town of the same name.
In all, seven rounds of golf at courses that represented clearly why the golf in Nova Scotia is en vogue.
“For golfers, playing at Cabot means experiencing the game in its most visceral sense – true linksland golf,” said Alkenbrack. “It’s the opportunity to take a seaside walk with friends, on a course mostly shaped by Mother Nature. As the only courses of its kind in the country, it’s an experience that is worth the trip.”
Situated on the western coast of Cape Breton Island in the tiny town of Inverness (pop. app. 2,500), the Cabot resort features ultra-modern accommodations that overlook the coastal landscape, a variety of restaurants, a fitness center and pro shop.
From Alkenbrack’s standpoint, the resort’s impact on Inverness has been the most rewarding element of the project.
“Inverness is becoming a great destination and, as with any new destination, there is a vibrant civic pride, a heightened sense of
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