Nova Scotia’s Cabot Links resort ups the ante with its new Cliffs course.
While doomsayers fret over the fact that more golf courses are closing in North America than opening, many fail to recognize that those debuting are, by and large, quite special. None is more so than Cabot Cliffs, which opens this July on the western side of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island, along the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The new layout joins the Cabot Links golf course—which received Robb Report’s Best of the Best honors after opening in 2012—to give the resort of the same name a powerful one-two punch.
Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the Cliffs occupies a sprawling and spectacular site a mile up the road from the gulf-hugging Links. The course begins by playing hide-and-seek among giant coastal dunes that would not appear out of place in Ireland. Holes four and six, two lengthy par 3s, in particular recall the swelling landforms of Lahinch or Ballybunion.
But it is when the Cliffs steps up at number nine—another par 3, this one climbing to an infinity green 100 feet above the waves—that the course throws back its shoulders and emits one mighty roar after another. Holes run along the cliffs, away, back again, up into the trees, and finish majestically along what feels like the edge of the Earth. From the 15th green to the final putt, the golfer tightropes along a rocky rim, with disaster threatening every shot. At the 16th and 18th, deep chasms must be carried once and twice, respectively, while the short par-4 17th (330 yards from the back tees, 275 from the more sensible ones) is a right-angling Cape hole that entices even the normally sober player to cut off a wee bit more—or die trying.
It is heart-stopping action—and the ideal complement to the more sedate Links, which is located next to the resort’s minimalist lodge. Cabot Links recently enlarged its lodge to 60 rooms, with two new two-bedroom and four new four-bedroom villas, and the resort offers a range of dining options, from pizza to gourmet fare. A short walk down the main drag of tiny Inverness leads to a smattering of stores, a very good coffee shop, and a beach. The region also features hiking, whale watching, fishing, and other water sports, while another sort of liquid leisure is available six miles south: The Glenora Distillery, which produces fine Scottish-style single malts, serves up an appropriate elixir after a clash with the Cliffs.
Cabot Links, 855.652.2268, cabotlinks.com