Remarkable Hole 16


Cabot Cliffs:

A Cape Breton Coastal Golf Masterpiece.

Posted by: Rick Parnham


The opening of Cabot Links in 2012 created a buzz in the golfing world rarely seen in these parts. When the birth of an internationally acclaimed unique links golf experience is followed with aspirations of creating sister course to create a truly world-class golf destination experience, the expectations on the sequel to Rod Whitman's seaside beauty were high to say the least. The resulting Coore-Crenshaw design at Cabot Cliffs not only lived up to those expectations, but like the "wee breezes" off the Gulf of St. Lawrence, blew away any doubt that the charming  little village of Inverness on the north shore of Cape Breton is now  in the conversation of must visits, like Bandon Dunes, Pebble Beach and Pinehurst.  


Gorgeous Vistas


Cabot Cliffs opened in July 2015 to great acclaim. With the attention of the golf travel world firmly focused on the next great Atlantic Canada course the hype lived up to billing. The design is a wondrous trek through a variety of landscapes; wetlands, inland forests, rugged dunes and the unforgettable shoreline holes perched high atop the bluffs and beaches of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The design team worked their magic to carve a fun-filled routing with six par 3, par 4 and par 5 holes presenting a wide variety of challenge and scoring opportunities. Built with an old world style featuring vast fairways and sculpted with ridges, mounds, and swales, the defense on the course comes from the ever-present winds off the Gulf and from the roll and sway of the generously sized  greens. The short drive north along Hwy 19 from Cabot Links and the beautiful resort property takes you to "The Cliffs." The winding entrance leads to a golf experience remarkable in setting and variety


The Second Hole with Inverness as a Backdrop

The Par 5's: The long holes at The Cliffs bookend the layout and provide some of the most visually distracting shots on your round. The opener is a lengthy three-shot hole rife with bunkers and a defining mound short of the green that must be negotiated with your second shot. Holes 10 and 18 are seaside beauties hugging the spectacular bluffs and pristine beaches below. The second of back-to-back par 5 holes in a row, hole 8, plays downhill and has a massive green featuring a large swale in the middle making putting a real challenge. The tee shot on hole 7 is a daunting one. Needing to carry a pond and steep rise behind, the safe play is to take aim at the pot bunker in the hillside.  This is a three-shot hole so no need trying to cut off the length of the hole by flirting with the right side bunker and nasty rough. A 100 yard long ridge down the left center of the fairway and pair of swales as you approach the green must be accounted for in your tactful layup. The pear shaped green is guarded front left by a pair of bunkers and anything long will find the generous collection area behind for a difficult chip back for par. The 15th is a downhill beauty that requires care in choosing your line of attack. The landing area has two distinct options: right is safer but longer, while the left has a shorter line but is ringed with bunkers, some hidden. A decision must be made to avoid the menacing trench bunker placed devilishly in the middle of the fairway swallowing up second shots hit directly at the center of the green. The green is nearly 50 yards deep so correct club selection is critical all the while consumed with the postcard backdrop of the Gulf and Margaree Island.


The Dunes of Hole 6


The Par 3's: The short holes at The Cliffs are a superbly diverse collection of six holes with none resembling the other. Ranging from the 245 yard beastly downhill Number 12 to the dainty 126 yard ninth with spectacular backdrop of The Gulf of St Lawrence and even featuring a multiple green on hole 4, this sextet of one-shotters, presents demands in both precision and brawn. Two of the Cliffs' par 3 holes that will sure be the talk of the golfing world are as different as night and day. Hole 6 seems to be carved out of ancient dunes decades ago. High seaside dunes frame the hole leaving just the front portion of the green visible from the tee. Typically playing longer than the card suggests, flying the ball to the hole may be a dangerous proposition. The green falls away at the back and with nearly 50 yards of distance from back to front, navigating the bowls and shelves on the surface will make for a memorable par if you are so lucky. Many have described the 16th as one of the world's most memorable short holes. The setting alone may live up to that billing. Perched high on the namesake "cliffs," this dramatic hole plays along the precipice to a green set atop the craggy rock formations jutting out into the Gulf. The multi-tiered green lies on top of a peninsula and is a wild rollercoaster with multiple shelves all surrounded by 6 pot bunkers. A mid iron is all you need if the wind is still. With left as the bail-out but leaving a difficult downhill chip, a right pin with the thin ribbon of green as your target may be the most difficult shot on the course; if not the planet.


17th Green and The Cliffs of Cabot

The Par4's: This collective of holes may present the greatest variety of design on the course. Hole two plays over a pair of streams along the tidal marshes to get to the plateau green fronted by a dune and collection of bunkers.   The third is relatively short but presents choice off the tee.  Left of the valley cutting down the middle of the fairway is a best angle to the green, if you can hold the plateau and avoid the bunker dead center. The cape-style fifth brings you back toward the Gulf breezes. Played safe the shot is to the corner of the dogleg left, but the slope feeding the ball to the green with an aggressive drive over the corner might be too tempting to resist. The beastly 11th plays uphill the entire way framed on the right by trees and left by dunes with a green that sits high on a hillside and long and narrow. The uphill 13th is all about navigating the fronting hill short of the green, making the second shot an adventure. The penultimate hole is a perfect example of the beauty of the short drivable par 4. The tee shot must be struck with a pure swing as there is a deceptive rise to reach the hidden fairway beyond the edge of the high faced cliff edge. Any shot a little off line or short will find the secluded beach below. Catch the steep slope of the fairway and you have a chance to roll down close to the green. Get too greedy and you might find yourself in one of the two tiny pot bunkers short with barely a stance to advance the ball. Following the all-world 16th, this pair of coastal cliff-side holes quite likely will see your vocabulary run out of superlatives.


In a few short years the moniker Cabot has put the golf world on notice. The opening of The Links and the contemporary-style seaside resort was just the beginning in making Inverness a household name for destination golf experiences. The addition of Coore and Crenshaw's Cliffs has put this once mining village on the shores of The Gulf of St. Lawrence in the conversation of North America's best golf resorts. Heading into its first full season after a limited play opening the layout played to rave reviews. Creative, deceptive, challenging and visually stunning are descriptors that are widely mentioned about the experience. All are perfectly appropriate to describe this most unique design. Combined with sister course, The Links, this dynamic Cape Breton duo is hard to surpass for a splendid seaside golf excursion. 


Course Stats:

Par 72



Cabot Cliffs

15933 Central Avenue,

Inverness, NS

B0E 1N0




























Hole 16 Green
















































Par 5 Hole 15




























































The Namesake Cliffs






















Photography Courtesy of Cabot Cliffs