Courses & Travel

11 Things You Probably Don't Know About Cabot Links

Cabot Links As You've Never Seen It Before
Set hard along a cliff-lined coast in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada's hottest golf destination evokes Scotland and Cypress Point. (Nice company, right?) When GOLF.com's Josh Sens paid a visit to the seven-year-old resort, he found not only a powerhouse pair of links courses but also a unique charm to this quiet corner of the golf world.

Cabot Links and its new sister course Cabot Cliffs, hard on the sandy coast of Nova Scotia, have been dubbed as "Bandon East." But don’t buy too much into that cute marketing moniker: Cabot is very much its own experience. Here are 11 ways that Cabot sets itself apart.

1. The Great White … East? Yeah, that’s right. Heading due north from New England will not lead you to Cabot, which sits much farther east than most of us imagine, closer in latitude to Massachusetts than it is to Montreal. The climate is also milder than you might expect, with a golf season that starts in early spring and stretches well into the fall.

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The 16th hole at Cabot Links.

2. Taking in the views from Cabot Links, you’re forgiven for thinking you’ve touched down at Turnberry. Just off the coast, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, lies the lovely, low-slung profile of Margaree Island -- Canada’s version of Ailsa Craig.

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Scotland's Ailsa Craig as seen from Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire.

3. John Cabot, the 15th-century explorer for whom these links are named, sailed under the British flag. But he was born in Italy as Giovanni Caboto. Good thing for the switch. Caboto Links lacks a certain ring.

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4. If these courses remind you of Scottish links, well, remember: Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland. And then there’s this: geologists have determined that eons ago, Scotland and Nova Scotia were physically connected, then went their separate ways through continental drift.

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5. Though pace of play at Cabot Links is mercifully swift, you will see people fiddling around. It’s a popular practice at the Red Shoe Pub in nearby Mabou, where you can catch live performances of Celtic fiddle music, a genre for which Nova Scotia is renown.

6. Lots of courses are described as “links.” But a true links course must sit by the sea on sandy soil, its fairways and greens composed of native grasses. By strict definition, Cabot is the first true links in Canada.

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The 17th hole at Cabot Cliffs.

7. In 1904, when the surrounding town of Inverness was incorporated, coal was king and a labyrinth of mines ran underground, reaching as deep as 2,500 feet below the very land where Cabot Links now lies.

8. On the drive toward Inverness you’ll see signs pointing toward the Cabot Trail, which is not a walker-friendly, links-style layout. It’s a spectacularly scenic 185-mile roadway that winds through the Cape Breton Highlands, passing Cabot Links along the way.

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Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the duo who designed Cabot Cliffs.

9. Need something to shoot for? Try taking aim at the course record that belongs to Graeme McDowell, who notched a five-under 65 in a 2013 exhibition match against Canada’s own Graham DeLaet.

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Graeme McDowell at Cabot Links, where he holds the course record.

10. Cabot also features a caddie program. Loopers maximize the links experience by allowing golfers to walk the course hands-free and by offering assistance with alignment, club selection, yardages, and putting. Their knowledge of the course’s intricacies and history make for an enriching experience.

11. In the spirit of good fun, late-night putting competitions have been known to materialize on Cabot’s turf. Well after dark, guests often saunter down from the Public House and gather under the dim light of the 18th green for a few laughs and some major bragging rights.

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WHAT IT COSTS

Rooms: $180 (for a double) up to $1,700 (4-BR villa).

Greens fees for the both the Links and Cliffs courses: $90-$185 (for resort guest); $45-$92.50 (replay rate)

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