CABOT LINKS – INVERNESS, NOVA SCOTIA
In 2012 Rod Whitman designed the first true Links course in Canada. It took a little while for this rather remote location to really create some attention, but by the Spring of 2014, the reviews of Cabot Links were stellar, and my wife and I made our way up to this northernmost section of Nova Scotia to the small town of Inverness. The town used to have several thousand residents back in the 70s but closing the coal mining company that employed most of the workforce cut the population to 700. Property from the closed mining company and the elevated sand hills above it were purchased by Mike Keiser of Bandon Dunes fame and Ben Cowan Dewar, and the town was revived by the stimulus of the Cabot Golf organization.
Cabot Links overlooks stunning western views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The elevation of the sand hills provides spectacular views of seaside cliffs reminiscent of Pebble Beach, and my wife and I concur that the sunsets are the best we have ever seen. The elevated topography cascading to the ocean dominates the sensation from its vantage point while the accommodations and restaurants seamlessly blend in, taking nothing away from Mother Nature.
Caddies are strongly recommended at Cabot Links, and we were warmly welcomed by two novice gentlemen, one of which was the local high school principal and the other a 3rd generation lobster fisherman. They offered a helpful tip or two but kept it light and let the links bring their own magic to the forefront for us to experience. The course played shorter than the yardages due to the firm fairways, as the ball seemed to be bound forward forever. One double green, a drivable par 4, and 2 reachable par 5’s, thanks to the run out of the ball, made for an exciting round. The caddies made sure we had fun and made sure we were aware of the best bars and restaurants nearby. They even gave us the secret to making money betting at the local harness trotter track. As it turns out, the key is to always bet the drivers of the “sulky” or chariot regardless of the horses themselves. They said that the most fearless driver was named “Trapper,” and we bet him 6 straight times and won five of the races taking home nearly a grand!
Inverness was so small that during our 5-day stay, we ran into our caddies at either the grocery store or the local coffee shop several times and even ran into our dinner waitress at the trotter track! After hearing that we wanted to look at some property that overlooked the resort; even the pro shop attendant arranged for her friend to take us out for lunch and drive us around to 4 different home sites to evaluate. The residents of Inverness seemingly were just grateful that their town had been revitalized by the Cabot Golf stimulus, and this was reflected in their cordial manner towards the guests.
Cabot has evolved a lot since our trip and now offers a second course adjacent to Cabot Links called Cabot Cliffs, both of which are rated in the Top 100 courses in the world. They have continued their expansion, with projects in Cabot Saint Lucia, and Cabot Revelstroke in British Columbia, and recently bought the old World Woods Resort to renovate in West Florida to be called Cabot Citrus Farms. Collectively Cabot is offering the world first-class golf destinations that nearly rival the likes of Bandon Dunes and Whistling Straights.
It is difficult to trump a spectacular first experience as we had years ago at Cabot Links, but I would not put it past the worldly Cabot Resorts to someday top our maiden experience from Inverness with one of their more recent projects.
Cabot Links is currently ranked #5 in Canada and #39 in the world by Golf Digest
Cabot Cliffs is currently ranked #1 in Canada and #10 in the world by Golf Digest