Cape Breton, part of Nova Scotia (Canada) already was a great golf destination with some of the finest golf courses in Canada. But with the realisation of Cabot Cliffs at Cabot Links in 2016, golfers have another Holy Grail to pursue. Time for an in-depth look at one of the most spectacular golf courses you will ever see.
The reason Cabot Cliffs was the most anticipated new course of 2015 was because it combines the best of some of the greatest courses in the world. And above all, it is situated in a grand location. The breathtaking Cape Breton landscape, with postcard worthy panoramas vying for your attention and rich, rolling fairways waiting to reward your creativity, this is links golf at its best.
Since the opening in 2015 the courses Cabot Cliffs (together with Cabot Links, the other 18 holes) has been reviewed multiple times at our website and it’s clear that this course is something special: ‘Magnificent views’, ‘in perfect condition’ and ‘truly world class’. These reviews have lead to a whopping rating of a 9.3 out of 10 which places Cabot in one of the highest rated courses on our website. It can be argued that designers Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw went all out.
Cabot Cliffs, a combination of other great courses
Cabot Cliffs has eight great holes along the coast above the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Inverness which might remind people of Turnberry. Another hole has characteristics of Pebble Beach and yet another looks like Ballybunion. Keith Rhebb (a shaper) turned a hillside of sand and soil into a towering Bandon Dunes-type sand dune on the second and chiseled a jagged bit of cliff into the par-3 16th, which combines elements of the 15th and 16th at Cypress Point.
Cabot Cliffs also does not follow any design conventions. It has six par-5s (three in four holes), six par-4s and six par-3s. Make that seven par 3s—the fourth hole includes an alternate hole based on the winning entry by Riley Johns, another shaper at Cliffs, in the 2014 Lido Design Competition.
All in all you can see, also based on all reviews of visiting golfers that the architects of Cabot Cliffs have succeeded to design a great course with elements of other famous courses, but without it becoming a gimmick. So, a successful melting pot it is.
The signature hole?
The par-3 16th has much in common with the famous and photogenic par-three 15th and 16th holes at Cypress Point—the tee shot carries rocky crags above an inlet of the sea. One difference is that the drop to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, about 100 feet, is more vertiginous. In that aspect, the 16th more closely resembles the cliff top holes at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand. The next hole, the short par-four 17th, requires a blind tee shot over a taller, even nastier cliff.
Not only Cabot Cliffs and Cabot Links are a great place to visit. Cape Breton Island is actually a very nice and beautiful place, not only because of all the great golf courses. But when you are here and enjoying the Cabot Trail, you will pass through quite a lot of courses which you would need to visit if you are a real golf nut! As we all know, golf is not about equipment, scores or handicaps, it is actually about experiences and exploring places —the challenge, beauty and prestige of the course itself. There are thousands of golf courses in the world, but only a selection of these embrace the true spirit of the game—Cape Breton is one of those places…
Here is a nice route to take when visiting Cape Breton. If you start at Cabot Links in the west, you can drive up to Cabot Cliffs and then work your way up via Le Portage Golf Club, Highland Links and then head south again to the Bell Bay Golf Club and The Lakes Golf Club.
Cape Breton Island
Renowned for its spectacular landscapes and unspoiled coastal lands, Cape Breton Island is a land like no other. And it has much more to offer than only golf. From hiking trails just outside Cabot Links Lodge to the famed, 186-mile long Cabot Trail, opportunities abound for the adventurous explorer. Named as one of “The World’s 10 Best Islands to Visit” by National Geographic Traveler, more than one-fifth of Cape Breton is preserved as a national park, making it a hiker’s paradise. In addition, anglers from all over North America are drawn to the nearby Margaree River, home to some of the world’s best salmon fishing.
“The Cabot Trail is more than a magnificent world-renowned drive – it is an experience… One to delight in…one to be savoured.”
Cape Breton is most accessible by car. The main road is the Trans-Canada highway (Hwy 105), which connects Sydney on the east coast with the causeway to the mainland on the west. You can rent a car in Sydney if necessary. Like any place, you see more if you get off the main road, and the Nova Scotia government has been helpful in this regard by creating a number of scenic drives. These include the following:
- Already mentioned, the Cabot Trail – Mountainous, windy and sometimes foggy, this drive alternates between hugging the ocean and crossing the rugged Cape Breton Highlands. Considered one of the top drives in North America, it should be considered more a destination than a drive for the variety of activities available around this 190 mile loop.
- Fleur-de-Lis Trail – Covers the southern French-influenced part of the island.
- Ceilidh Trail – Covers the western part the island with its strong Scottish influence.
- Bras d’Or Lake Scenic Drive – follows the shoreline of Bras d’Or Lake.
Road maps and additional information on the island is readily available at any tourism information center (located at entry points and any major towns and cities) and a number of private operators offer trip planning services.
Regardless of your mode of travel, watch out for moose on the roads.
There are many small cable ferries between the islands. They usually go every few minutes and charge $5. And the best places to stay on Cape Breton (according to our partner Booking.com) are the following B&B’s:
- The Fiddle and the Sea Bed and Breakfast
- The Yellow Sidecar B&B
- Heritage Home Bed & Breakfast
But, we advice you to have a look yourself! Surf to Booking.com and search for ‘Cape Breton’.