There was something all to familiar as I drove up Highway 19, Ceilidh Trail towards Inverness this past Thursday. Although it had been four years since I had been to Cape Breton with my wife. The clouds, light rain, sunny breaks and winding roads that twisted through the hilly Cape Breton seaside reminded me of the beauty of playing Cabot Links for the first time 4 years previously. Today I knew would be a special day once again as I was playing Cabot Cliffs the widely acclaimed Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore designed course. Recently making its debut in the Golf Digest World Top 100 Courses at #19 needless to say I was excited to play the Cliffs.
The entrance to Cabot Cliffs is pretty non descipt and you might miss it but it's just a km or so past Cabot Links. The minimalist feel prevails but that's the way golf is played at Cabot.
Although there's no clubhouse yet the perfect yurt tents are set up to get you started for the day. Spoke to Joe MacDonald Head professional at Cliffs and he says one will be built soon. Design still to be determined if it's anything like Cabot Links it will be perfect.
The course starts off with a beautiful forgiving par 5. Which can play even tougher depending on wind conditions but that can be said for any holes at the Cliffs.
Cliffs has 6 par 5s and for me they really were the strength of the course. All very scenic especailly the par 5s by the sea, #10 and #18 will test you from any tee box and make sure you have your camera for the vistas are amazing. The inland par 5s like #7 and #8 are a challenge as well and long tee shots will reward those good shots with birdies or even an eagle. Each different in there own way you'll love the par 5s at Cabot Cliffs.
Hole 10—Par 5 557 yards Very hard second shot after a good drive.
Hole 7—Par 5 589 yards The intimidating tee shot.
Hole number two at Cabot Cliffs, Ben Crenshaw's favorite is a picturesque hole with an elevated tee shot where your second shot into the hole is intimidating with a mammoth bunker in front of the green. This hole will test all your shot making capabilities. But that's true for all holes at Cliffs.
Right off the bat you'll notice you might have to play a few more different shots at Cabot.
Putting from far off the green might be the more prudent shot as your pitch shot may come up short in the wind, welcome to true links golf. Using a lower trajectory on your irons like a knockdown shot will defintelty have an advantage on occasion. Cabot Cliffs will have you thinking on all your shots.
As you come to each hole you'll just be in awe of the design. Every hole is different at Cabot Cliffs and you begin to notice this pretty quickly. I've never taken so many pictures and videos at a golf course before, good thing I had my iPad backing up my iPhone for the round.
Where I said earlier the par 5s are the strength of Cabot Cliffs, the 6 par 3s are the pillars. With the most photographed hole #16 being the most stunning of the bunch. Hole 16 will test your golf will and strength to choose the right club and swing for the task. Designed beautifully out of the Cape Breton cliffs this hole will have you wanting to play again the second you sink your putt.
Hole 16—Par 3 176 yards
Hole 14—Par 3 184 yards. Notice the large rock hump that sits surrounded by bunkers. Another challenging par 3 at Cabot Cliffs.
Hole 12—Par 3 245 yards A long par 3 from any tee. Wind would seem to always play a role on this tough hole.
Hole 17—Par 4 331 yards A daunting tee shot
Can be real rewarding once you get to your ball.
Hole 5—Par 4 345 yards Beautiful spot for the green
Golf writer's perfect view for writing in journal #18
If you love golf you have to experience golf at the Cabot Cliffs course. A true links golf experience subtly carved out of the majestic Cape Breton landscape. The cost varies depending on the time of the golf season and also depend if you're a local or staying at the resort. Well worth the money considering Cabot Cliffs recently topped ScoreGolf's Top 100 Best Golf Courses in Canada 2016. I recommend staying at the resort and playing Cabot Links too.