Here’s another post on my three-day fam trip/boondoggle/junket (which means it was courtesy of the generous Canadian government) to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.
When we arrived at the much-anticipated Cabot Links in Inverness on Sunday afternoon, several commented that the view of the course from inside the clubhouse looked like Castle Stuart in Scotland — which I haven’t played, but I bet if I showed someone a picture of Cabot, they would guess we were across the pond.
For those unfamiliar with Cabot Links, it’s designed by Canadian architect Rod Whitman and located on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. The project has been in the works for years, led by managing partner Ben Cowan-Dewar. Cabot has also been dubbed “Bandon of the East,” with the man behind Bandon Dunes Resort, Mike Keiser, as another owner.
With a view of the Atlantic Ocean on every hole, Cabot has the makings of successfully replicating the links courses unique to Ireland and Great Britain, which many have tried to accomplish but to no avail. (Memo: Those links-style courses in Kansas are not true links…look up the definition.) When I think “golf destination,” Nova Scotia isn’t the first to pop into my mind, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Cabot Links were to transform that after the course has matured. Well, I guess the first step is to complete all 18!
Ten holes have been open to the public since July, but we had the privilege to be among the first to play all 18 (and I have the distinction to be the first woman — woot!). The remaining eight holes were still under construction, but they were obviously playable. The full 18, along with a 48-room lodge, is scheduled to open next summer. There are plans for a second course to be built that’s in the works.
It rained all morning on Sunday, but let up just in time for our afternoon arrival and tee times — but the wind was definitely still gusting. I felt like I was going to be blown over on the first tee, which is an intriguing opening shot. There’s a hill on the right, with the prevailing wind blowing left-to-right. I aimed way left, but uncharacteristically, I hit a fade and thought I’d find my ball in the junk on the right, but to my surprise, it was in the middle of the fairway — which is also more generous than it appears from the tee.
I was lucky to play in the same group as Ben, who helped guide me around the course. (“Ben, where’s the line on this hole?” “Ben, which tees should I play from here?”)
You see, the scorecard only has the 10 completed holes and they’re not in the right order — Nos. 1, 2, 12, 6, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 — which made it a little confusing for my feeble mind. Here’s a look at the card and the yardage book for No. 2:
Speaking of the par-5 second hole, it was one of my favorites. It’s definitely one that leaves you with various options and makes you think a little. I found the second shot most important and if I remember correctly, it’s a blind shot up the hill with a bunker in the middle of the fairway that you definitely want to avoid.
Here’s my foursome on the 11th tee Sunday. Ben is the guy in the foreground of the picture.
You’ll have to bear with me in identifying some of the holes in the following pictures. My memory isn’t quite what it used to be. I’ve developed the unique ability to play golf with a short-term memory. It’s actually quite amazing — I used to remember every shot from every round of every hole when I actually played competitively. Over the years I somehow managed to rid of that talent (or it’s just a sign of age).
Here’s the first picture I took at Cabot, but I’m not sure which green it is! *Update: It’s the 18th.
Well, I can tell you the following two pictures were taken on the front nine. *Update: Right side of the second hole.
*Update: Looking back on the 4th green.
Here’s one of the signature holes, the par-4 ninth, aka the Cape Hole — this picture doesn’t do it justice since it was overcast most of the afternoon, but check out the video I posted earlier in the week.
I’m almost sure this is the par-5 11th from the tee. *Update: Actually the 15th tee.
Another vantage point of the 11th…
Here’s another signature hole, the short par-3 14th, which reminded me of No. 7 at Pebble Beach — maybe just because they’re both short, downhill and overlooking the ocean.
The 15th runs along the ocean, which was another one of my favorites.
The par-3 17th…
And here’s the clubhouse, which is really, really close to the 18th green (the windows are made of shatter-proof glass), as the sun is setting. The 18th is definitely a tough, long par-4 to bring you home, but it wasn’t my favorite. I think it just seemed kinda anti-climactic for the finishing hole. Then again, it might seem more impressive once the course has matured and the lodge has been built, which will guard the left-side of the fairway.
I’ve got a lot more pictures to come…to sum things up, I found Cabot Links really, really fun to play. It’s not often these days that I finish 18 holes (especially in cold weather — my preferences are Rory McIlroy-esque) and want to play another nine.