Cape Breton’s Cabot Links is worthy of its international praise
By Ted McIntyre
As a golf journalist, I was among the fortunate few to play Cabot Links in the summer of 2011, almost a year before it officially opened. The forecast that day had called for Mother Nature to unleash her worst, yet all but one of our group was determined to contest the forecasted elements. This, after all, was Canada’s first authentic links course—a spellbindingly rugged Rod Whitman routing designed to take advantage of the sandy soil and to play hard and fast along the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with ocean views on every hole.
As fate would have it, the clouds parted moments before our arrival, and we tumbled out of the car to capture a sensational double rainbow curving over the dramatic terrain, dotted as it was with humps and bumps, hollows and pot bunkers—all of it canting toward the ocean, with a simple boardwalk separating beach from golf course.
I’ve called it golf in its finest and most distilled form. There is no blight of asphalt paths, since the lone power carts are reserved for medical reasons—merely dunes and flowing fescue. It’s a style of golf seldom experienced by North Americans—one that requires players to exercise their brains in devising multiple ways of negotiating the ball into the hole.
The course will play differently tomorrow, and then again the day after that. Therein lies the beauty of Cabot Links—as opposed to a repetitive execution of ball striking through the air, Mother Nature and this ingenious layout reward imagination and creativity.
Yes, Cabot has raked in the accolades, from Canada’s Best New Course in 2012 to its No. 82 ranking among Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Golf Courses in the World. But for me, there is no better—and simpler—test of a course’s true greatness than the measure of how badly you want to tee it up again after putting out on No. 18. And in that respect, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another course that rates higher in this country. Except, possibly,
For the dramatic sister course being constructed 9/10ths of a mile up the road by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. It too will close the summer days with sensational sunsets and, no doubt, golfers who can’t wait to tee it up again.