Oct
27
2011
Nova Scotia Boondoggle, Part 1: Highlands Links
By Stephanie Wei under Wei Goes Golfing

Here’s the first of several parts on my three-day fam trip/boondoggle/junket (which means it was courtesy of the Canadian government) to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.

The clubhouse at Highlands Links

I didn’t have enough downtime to post anything too meaningful on WUP during the trip, but I tweeted plenty, triggering a direct message that said, “Damn, you’re rolling like a tour pro.” We sure were. When I received the itinerary and the flight plans said “private charter,” I almost fell off my chair. I mean, when was the last time a plan was chartered for eight golf journalists writers to essentially play golf? Well, probably more often than I’m aware. After all, we couldn’t be expected to drive four hours from Halifax to Inverness!

Here we are, boarding the flight at Teterboro in New Jersey for our one hour, 30 minute journey north to the landing strip in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia. We took off a little later than planned because of a last-minute switch of aviation companies.

The view from the inside, facing toward the cockpit.

When we arrived, Katherine, the Golf Marketing Director of Destination Cape Breton (basically, it’s the tourism bureau) and our host for the trip, greeted us, along with our “luxury bus,” which was waiting to take us on roughly a three-hour drive through the meandering roads of Cape Breton Island to Highlands Links in Ingonish.

Highlands, located in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, was designed by Canada’s most prominent architect, Stanley Thompson, who dubbed it “The Mountains and Ocean Course.” Unfortunately, I can’t remember too many details about playing the course because I was too busy trying to just make contact with the ball. I hadn’t touched a club in about two months, and let me tell you, it’s not that much fun hopping out of a long bus ride after a few plane rides and jumping on the first tee! I spent the first five or six holes hoping not to top the ball (which I did at least 10 times).

But let me share with you what I do recall — the Highlands layout felt Seth Raynor-esque, with several holes reminding me of the Yale golf course. The area had been hit with heavy rain in the last week, so the conditions weren’t ideal and it was really muddy. It was also the last weekend of the season. I’d love to return when Highlands was playing fast and firm in the summer.

We found the memo beneath the tee marker on the first hole kinda funny. In case you can’t read the fine print, it says: “Hitting golf balls into the ocean is not permitted. It is a danger to walkers and cars in the parking area.”

Here’s a shot of the tough opening hole, a long, uphill par-4 — take extra club on the approach shot. The fairway slopes left-to-right more than you can tell from the picture.

I think this was taken on the third tee…

I believe the following two pictures are taken from the par-5 No. 6…(I’d never encountered two consecutive par-5s on both nines, Nos. 6 and 7, and Nos. 15 and 16)

Here’s the view from tee of the par-3 No. 10 — doesn’t it look like a foliage amphitheater?

Another shot from the 10th.

And another one of the green from the cart path on the left.

Clueless?

We stayed at a super-cute inn near Highlands (and I’m blanking on the name of it right now) on Saturday night, where they served us a traditional Nova Scotian dinner of chowder, mussels, mashed potatoes, cole slaw and lobster. I’m still in a food coma from that meal…