Befitting its name, Nova Scotia is a verdant, windswept coastland that looks just like Scotland. With the opening of Cabot Links—a delightfully authentic links golf course on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island—the Canadian province now plays like Scotland, too.
Located in the wee village of Inverness, Cabot Links possesses all the traits that mark true Scottish links courses such as St. Andrews, Muirfield, and Prestwick: It is located close to water; the soil is mostly sand and supports low, scrubby growth like heather and wispy grasses; wind is a constant presence that should be calculated into every shot; and greens are large and undulating, fairways wide and rumpled. Although Cabot Links is only a few months old, architect Rod Whitman designed the course to look as though it has been played for centuries, in the spirit of its Scottish antecedents.
The course and an accompanying 48-room lodge are the brainchild of Canadian travel executive Ben Cowan-Dewar. Mike Keiser, the creator of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, joined the project partway through, bringing with him the philosophy that proved so successful at his southern Oregon retreat—keep it about the golf.
Indeed, accommodations at the Cabot Links Lodge are elegantly simple, each with a comfortable bed, a flat-screen TV, minimal furnishings, and little else. Expansive windows look past the golf course to stunning sunsets over the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Most captivating, however, is the course itself.
From the first tee shot—struck blindly over a hill, the gulf in the distance—the golfer must be totally engaged. Several tees require long carries over lush native growth. Bunkers abound and look as though they were created by howling winds and burrowing sheep. Footpaths—Cabot is walking only, with an ample supply of pleasant, knowledgeable caddies—consist of mulch or are narrow strips hewn through thick vegetation.
Golfers not versed in the vagaries of links play will soon learn to hit shots low, use the ground and the slopes, and bounce approach shots onto greens. It is an education that will serve them well in both new Scotland and old.
Cabot Links, 855.652.2268, www.cabotlinks.com