Vacay.ca Golf Writer
Nova Scotia’s newest course looks ancient thanks to the ocean-side holes reminiscent of Scotland. Here is Canada’s only true links course — built as it is on an unused stretch of land bordering the warmest sea waters north of Mexico; après round dip anyone? Cabot Links has been compared to Oregon’s Bandon Dunes — another jewel on an otherwise lonely stretch of ocean. True to ancient golfing traditions, Cabot Links is a walking course evidenced by its logical layout where greens border sequential tee boxes and the whole track extends outwards from the nearby town of Inverness.
Website: www.cabotlinks.com; Telephone: (855) 652-2268
Fox Harb’r Golf Resort and Spa
Nova Scotia’s only five-star property and gated community once hosted Tiger Woods. While you could arrive in style via the private airstrip or marina, it’s a mostly scenic, two-hour drive from the Halifax International Airport. Owner Ron Joyce, of Tim Hortons fame, provides his coffee in all the suites and the otherwise high-end dining room.
The back-nine holes hugging the Atlantic Ocean offer links-style golf while the front nine feature super fast greens on odd-shaped holes carved out of the forest. A nine-hole par-3 course — perfect for the kids — is free with all reservations.
The very manly sporting lodge, buried deep on the Fox Harb’r property and missing only the “No girls allowed” sign offers skeet shooting as an après golf activities.
Website: www.foxharbr.com; Telephone: 1.866.257.1801
Glen Arbour Golf Course
Halifax is an excellent place to start or end your Nova Scotia golf trip. Twenty minutes from downtown, Glen Arbour Golf Course is host to the inaugural Wayne Gretzky and Friend’s Invitational and, more recently, the BMO Canadian Ladies Open.
Canadian golfer and course architect Graham Cooke, creator of Fox Harb’r, chose this property for its natural features and proximity to the province’s capital city. At 6,800 yards, Glen Arbour is short by today’s standards but the water hazards, wooded areas, elevation changes and bent grass greens more than make up for the yardage to challenge players of all levels.
In addition to this championship course, Glen Arbour offers a nine-hole par-3 track that’s perfect for a quick practice round or a chance to get out with the kids.
Stop by for lunch at the Georgian-style clubhouse for panoramic views of Sandy Lake and the ninth and 18th fairways.
Chester Golf Club
Continue driving 40 minutes south along Nova Scotia’s scenic Route 3 to the Chester Golf Club, which sits on Chester Basin. Try to play here at twilight for the great sunset views from the ocean holes.
On the narrow, 183-yard par-3 second hole, beware of the steep cliff dropping into the Atlantic on your right. You’re safer in the sand trap to the left should you miss the grassy slope that feeds down to the hole.
The Bluenose Golf Club
Thirty minutes farther along Route 3 in Lunenburg, play the nine-hole Bluenose Golf Club, overlooking the city’s downtown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On this hilly course most of your shots will be played with the ball either above or below your feet.
All of the holes are interesting in their own right, but the final par 4, played downhill on an angle, is a real optical illusion. Aim 50% farther left than what your eyes are telling you.
Celebrate your pars with a lunch of fresh lobster rolls washed down with a local brew while watching the fishermen tending to their scallop boats in the harbour below.
Bell Bay Golf Club
Bell Bay Golf Club sits high above Cape Breton’s Bras d’Or Lakes — the world’s largest inland salt-water bodies. Designed by Thomas McBroom, Bell Bay offers a Golf Digest-recommended round with excellent “Stay and Play” deals.
The course takes full advantage of the area’s natural features, with each hole boasting a different experience than the last. On some holes, fairways slant down towards wooded areas while others force players to shoot uphill towards the woods surrounding the flagstick.
Bell Bay’s 16th hole tempts players to go for the green, which requires a tricky draw shot in a perfect risk/reward scenario. The par-3, 17th signature hole requires players to hit over a 180-foot gully to a green that is protected by a grove of trees. Most players fail to take enough club on this one. You’ve been warned.
On the 18th, the Bras d’Or Lakes and Alexander Graham Bell’s summer estate are fully visible as players shoot over a gorge. The hole then winds its way to the clubhouse, under the Cape Breton Highlands.
MAP SHOWING THE 6 NOVA SCOTIA GOLF COURSES MENTIONED ABOVE
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