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Exploring The Soul of Golf at Cabot Links

From the first time I heard of Cabot Links I had a lot of hope.  After getting to see it first hand I would have to say that it’s promise has been fulfilled.

Just over a week ago I had the good fortune of being on a family vacation in Prince Edward Island.  Thankfully my wife, who is well-acquainted with my always-present golf motives, was more than willing to take a side journey to Cape Breton for a couple days so I could satisfy my curiosity regarding Canada’s newest golf course.

Like many I have read much about Cabot Links, the brainchild of Ben Cowan-Dewar, with a big assist to designer Rod Whitman and business partner Mike Keiser. Few things get me more excited than links golf and with family roots in the Maritimes I also have to admit a bias about seeing a great golf course rise in Inverness, Nova Scotia. But nothing was going to shape my opinion about the place like an actual visit.

Over the years I have passed through the tiny former mining town of just 4,000 souls and looked longingly towards the land that runs parallel to the fabulous beach.  There had been talk of golf projects there before..but they just never seemed to play out.  Golfers were left to dream of this perfect linksland wedged between the town and the water and what could be.

Fortunately Cowan-Dewar took the vision so many had considered and did the many years of leg work to actually make it happen.

I spoke only briefly with the former Camden East, Ontario (just west of Kingston) resident during my unscheduled stopover (there have been many formal media visits of late) and his pride in finally getting the course fully open was evident, as was the weariness of having endured all the events around the grand opening day on June 29th.

When we had lunch in Ottawa this past March, things were a little calmer and even with many details still left to play out regarding the course opening, you could sense Cowan-Dewar’s quiet pride in what had been created with his team.

He did not gloat about the project billed as the first authentic links course in Canada, but after seeing it with my own eyes, I would not have faulted him if he had.

You can add my vote in saying it will instantly become one of the most regarded golf courses within our borders.

What I appreciated about Cabot Links was the simplicity of it. It’s rumpled look, with rough-hewn bunkering along with the ever present water view fills your senses with delight. At any hour of the day you can’t turn in any direction without marveling at it’s beauty and you often to have to shake your head to remind yourself that you are on Canadian soil and not on the shores of Scotland.  Many times while I walked the land one evening and then played eighteen the next morning I thought to myself about how the course mirrored many of the visuals at Kingsbarns or the West Links at North Berwick, both layouts revered on a world-wide scale.

As expected the greens and fairways are still getting up to speed but they already embody the delightful firm bounding turf of their Scottish brethren.

As I played, even with a set of rental clubs, I often felt like a kid again, playing golf for the very first time.  Like a true links, avenues of play are not restricted by the course and as I mentioned to many since my return, I could easily play every day and decide to play the course in a different way each time.  You are the master of your own fate at Cabot.

Accompanying the course is a subtle lodge with all 48 rooms facing the golf course, water, and stunning sunsets that fall each evening.

So many times in my life I have been disappointed by grandiose claims about the potential and reality of a new golf course. In Cabot Links there is truth to every kind word.

My only hope is that I can return again soon to enjoy the the greatest expression of the soul of golf that I have found on North American soil.

On a golden evening, as you wander the links, and look to the beach alongside with the setting sun in the distance, you are sure to remember why you came to love the game.

For that alone Cabot Links is worthy of all the praise that can be heaped upon it.

Please enjoy the slideshow of images I captured during my short stay.  I think you will agree that they are fairly enticing.