Far-flung golf destinations are all the rage. The more remote the location, the better, it seems. From Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania to La Paz Golf Club in Bolivia, the busiest golf destinations aren’t usually the most convenient to visit.
For an exotic golf destination a little closer to home, consider the Cabot Links Golf Resort in Nova Scotia, Canada. The course is a 3-hour drive from the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, but a flight from New York City to Halifax takes less than 2 hours. With a 2-hour flight and a 3-hour drive, someone on the East Coast can leave in the morning and be golfing that afternoon.
Here are some tips for planning an amazing golf adventure in Nova Scotia.
Consider Visiting During The Late Spring Or Early Fall
Cabot Links is only open from early May through late October. It’s located in Inverness, Nova Scotia, which is similar, weather-wise, to Duluth, Minnesota. That means that for at least four months of the year (and many times longer than that), the course is covered in snow.
So if you’re planning a trip to Cabot Links, you must travel there between late spring and early fall. And those two timeframes -- late spring and early fall -- are the easiest times to book a tee time and accommodations. As you might imagine, tee time and accommodations for the summer months are often booked well in advance.
Fly Through Newark Or JFK
The easiest connecting flights to Halifax from the United States are offered by United Airlines (through Newark, New Jersey) and Delta (through John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City). There are also flights available from Boston (Air Canada) and Orlando (WestJet Airlines), but these are limited. Booking a connecting flight from your destination through Newark or JFK is the best choice.
During the summer months, there are a few direct flights from Chicago and Philadelphia to Halifax. But if you’re looking for domestic airlines in the United States with daily, year-round flights to Halifax, your choices are United and Delta.
There are also many flights from destinations in Canada, if that is your preference. WestJet, Air Canada, and Porter Airlines all offer flights to Halifax, but these flights route through Toronto, Montreal, or Ottawa.
Take The Cabot Links Shuttle From The Airport
While you can rent a car in Halifax, Cabot Links provides shuttle service for the 3-hour drive from Halifax to Inverness. Cabot Links owns a fleet of Sprinter vans that seat 11, and if you make arrangements through the resort, one can be waiting for you (and your clubs) when you land in Halifax.
For a bigger thrill (and a much bigger cost), Cabot Links can also arrange helicopter transportation from Halifax to the golf club.
Stay On The Property
There are bed and breakfasts in Inverness, but staying at the resort is by far the best choice. There are two options on the property -- Cabot Links Lodge and the Golf Villas.
Cabot Links Lodge, which is less lodge than modern, sleek hotel, has 72 rooms. If you’re traveling in a group of four and looking to save on lodging, you can book a double and all stay in the same room. There are also king rooms at the lodge that will accommodate one or two people.
The other option is to book one of the Golf Villas. There are two types of villas: two-bedroom villas and the very luxurious four-bedroom villas. In the four-bedroom villas, you can stay with your group in one location while each of you gets your own bedroom; however, this option is very expensive. The four-bedroom villas start at $900 per night during the off-season and climb to $1,750 per night during the middle of the summer.
Start With The Links Course
There are two courses at Cabot Links: Cabot Links, the original course, and Cabot Cliffs, which opened a few years later. Both were designed in the true links style, which was the idea behind the entire golf resort. Links golf originated next to the sea in Scotland, and Inverness, Nova Scotia, is very similar to the Scottish Highlands in appearance. The Canadian community was even named for the famous Scottish city of Inverness.
Inverness, Nova Scotia, was once a mining town, but it’s now defined by its golf resort. Cabot Links is located directly above the former coal mines, and every hole offers sweeping views of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Five of the holes are located right on the beach.
In keeping with links golf tradition, there are no golf carts at Cabot Links or Cabot Cliffs. You can either rent a push cart and transport your clubs around the course yourself, or you can hire a caddy. The caddy will not only carry your bag but will guide you around the course they’ve walked hundreds of times before. Caddies are independent contractors, so they are paid directly by the golfers.
Play Cabot Cliffs Second
If you thought the views of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence were spectacular from Cabot Links, wait until you see Cabot Cliffs. The Cabot Links course is located directly along the water, almost at the same elevation as the beach. The Cabot Cliffs course, a mile north of Inverness, plays at the top of the cliffs along the sea. Designed by the world-famous golf architecture duo Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Cabot Cliffs opened in 2015 as the second course at Cabot. It quickly rose to prominence and was recently ranked the ninth-best golf course in the world by Golf Digest.
The entire course is spectacular, but the final three holes have become legendary. The 16th hole is a par 3 over a rocky cliff jutting out into the sea. The 17th hole is a par 4 that can be shortened if you’re willing to hit over the craggy cliff. And the 18th hole is a par 5 that parallels the same cliff for 500 glorious yards.
The views at Cabot Cliffs have been compared to those at Cypress Point Club in Monterey, California, but Cypress Point is a private club, which means you have to be sponsored by a member to play the course. Cabot Cliffs has now joined Cypress Point as one of the top 10 golf courses in the world, but unlike Cypress Point, Cabot Cliffs is completely open to the public.
Grab A Post-Round Drink At The Cabot Bar
If you’re staying on the property, a shuttle will take you back to Cabot Links (where the lodging is located) from Cabot Cliffs. After either round, you can sit at the Cabot Bar and enjoy a drink overlooking the 18th hole at Cabot Links.
The Cabot Bar is also a great spot for a pre-round breakfast if you’re looking for something quick. The staff at Cabot knows that you’ll likely be joining them for every meal during your stay, so they’ve prepared many options for each meal. But of all the options, the post-round drink and snack at the Cabot Bar might be the best.
Dine At Panorama Restaurant
If it’s fine dining that you’re looking for, Cabot has got that as well. Panorama Restaurant, also overlooking the 18th hole of Cabot Links, offers the perfect place for dinner after your round. The restaurant is aware that you’re looking for the perfect meal (and perhaps the perfect glass of wine) to cap off your evening, and it certainly provides it, along with an amazing view of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
Given that there are many fishing villages nearby, the best dishes at Panorama are the seafood dishes. Try the Nova Scotia lobster, Atlantic salmon, or seared local halibut.
Consider A Whale-Watching Tour
If you’re looking to get away from golf for a while, there are whale-watching tours available in Inverness during the summer months. During August and September, the whale-watching excursions depart from Inverness Harbour, but in June and July, you’ll have to make the 45-minute drive to the village of Chéticamp, Nova Scotia, to catch one of the whale-watching excursions from the harbor there.
You’ll likely see four types of whales (pilot, minke, humpback, and finback) as well as dolphins, porpoises, and seals. The views of the Nova Scotia coastline are incredible -- after all, that’s the reason this location was chosen for the golf resort. Cliffs and beaches next to the sea provide a spectacular setting for one of the most amazing golf adventures in the world.
Can't get enough of Nova Scotia? Here are nine other spots to visit in the stunning province.