Why Howard Was Completely Wrong About Our Buddies Trip to Nova Scotia

Eight friends and I recently spent four days playing six and a half rounds at Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs, on Cape Breton Island, in Nova Scotia. There would have been twelve of us if three of the five lawyers in the original group hadn’t dropped out. The first lawyer to bail was Howard, whose principal objections were: (a) traveling to Cabot takes longer than traveling to Scotland; (b) playing two golf courses three times each is a waste of a good golf trip; and (c) overseas golf itineraries should consist solely of famous old courses that have been famous for a long time.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

It’s true that Cabot is slightly tricky to get to. Unless you have your own airplane, you fly to Halifax and then drive for three hours. But the flight is a breeze, especially by comparison with any flight to the British Isles—it’s less than two hours from either New York or Boston—and the drive, which follows the coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is pleasant in itself, especially if, as in our case, you’re being driven in one of Cabot’s fleet of eleven-passenger Mercedes vans. And once you’ve arrived at Cabot you don’t have to travel again until it’s time to go home. (There’s an ice-cream stand across the street, but you can walk.)

As for repeatedly playing the same two golf courses, I think three rounds could be considered the minimum ideal exposure to any great golf course. Repetition on that scale is hard to pull off if you’re racing death to the end of your bucket list, but you can’t fully appreciate a course until you given yourself opportunities to make up for bad shots and stupid decisions in earlier rounds. Besides, the best courses improve with repetition.

Photo by Mike Bowman.

Both courses at Cabot also belong on the surprisingly long list of new and relatively new courses that hold their own in any comparison with the great courses of the past. (Cabot Links was designed by Rod Whitman, a Canadian protégé of Bill Coore’s, and Cabot Cliffs was designed by Coore and Ben Crenshaw.) And Cabot comes very close to my conception of the ideal golf resort.

Photo by Mike Bowman.

Our rooms—all of which overlooked both the golf course and the water—were nice, but not too nice. The food was good, but not ridiculous. The staff was unfailingly friendly and accommodating without ever seeming overbearing. The week after our visit, one of the members of the women’s version of our club’s Sunday Morning Group went to Cabot with a friend. They liked it so much that, before they left, they signed up for a return visit, in the fall. All the guys on our trip are going to go back, too, Howard be damned.

Photo by Mike Bowman.

5 thoughts on “Why Howard Was Completely Wrong About Our Buddies Trip to Nova Scotia

  1. C’mon Howard !

    Dave, look forward to seeing you guys in a few weeks. Please stock the club bar with some Beefeater!

  2. Great golf courses, great company and for me two rounds each was enough. I drove all the way with a stop in Maine to visit friends both ways. The drive was easy and very little traffic.

  3. Moronic, to go to Cape Breton and not also play Highlands Links in Ingonish (a spectacular 2.5 hour drive via the Cabot Trail through Cape Breton National Park).For decades it has been ranked in the top 100 courses in the works and is always ranked in the top 3 in Canada. It is Ike going to Pebble Beach and just playing one course. You could have stayed at the Keltic Lodge. Look up Highlands Links (a world famous Stanley Thompson design) and the Keltic Lodge. Online you can tour all 18 holes.
    You will come to the conclusion that it was idiotic not to play the best three courses in Nova Scotia.

  4. FORGOT TO MENTION THAT YOU CAN FLY TO SYDNEY VS HALIFAX AND DRIVE 2 HOURS VS 5.5 TO PLAY HIGHLANDS LINKS IN INGONISH. FROM THERE 2.5 TO 3.0 DRIVE VIA THE SPECTACULAR CABOT TRAIL TO PLAY CABOT LINKS.

Leave a Reply