Course Tour – Cabot Cliffs – Canada’s Best Golf Experience

By Mike Johnny | Course Reviews

Dec 01

“Who wouldn’t return to Links and Cliffs?  Certain places in the game call us back, time and time again.” Lorne Rubenstein

I need to thank my friend Andrew Stoakley (@stoakleyaudio) for his willingness to share his pictures from a recent end-of-season pilgrimage to Cabot for two days of 36.  Andrew and I, along with four others, visited Cabot Links back in 2013 and immediately fell in love with the course.  Andrew is one of two I know who prefer the Links course to Cliffs, but to me (and granted I have not visited Cliffs) I liken this to choosing a favourite child; they’re both sensational.  Cabot Cliffs is top of my Canadian Courses Bucket List and as the Golf Digest 9th ranked course in the world it is understandable that this course tops my must play list.  So with that, here is a photo tour of the course.  It is my hope this will whet the appetite for us all who dream of getting to Inverness soon to experience this masterpiece.

1st Hole – Par 5 – 581 Yards

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Course architects, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, are proud they’ve created “options, room to play, and entice you to hit a variety of golf shots”.  The opening par 5 is reflective of this design principle at Cliffs.

Andrew’s Notes – “Very makeable par 5. Depending on the tee blocks you’re playing, it can make it a challenge to choose driver or 3 wood.”

2nd Hole – Par 4 – 402 Yards

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The first of a handful of memorable and ‘signature’ holes.  Coore and Crenshaw felt this was one of their most unique holes ever designed.  Simply stunning off the tee.

Andrew’s Notes – “One of my faves on the course. Easily to reach the water at the front of the green.  The right can be very bad on this hole and when the wind kicks up, it can get ugly. The front of the green has a false front and you could easily end up at the bridge in the heat of summer.”

3rd Hole – Par 4 – 389 Yards

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Andrew’s Notes – “Beautiful tee shot. Pond down below, and a giant bunker in front of you. I shot driver off this hole with my natural fade and some help from the wind to just to the right of the big bunker. If you go left or long and end up in the bunker, it’ll be a challenge to get up and down.”

4th Hole – Par 3 – 154 or 221 Yards

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Yes you read and see that correct; there are two greens here.  Talk about design options!

Andrew’s Notes – “Double green! Love it. I preferred the upper green (well, I parred that green!), with it’s bunkers and back to front elevation. The lower green is an extra 70 yards and with the wind in your face, can easily be a three club shot.”

5th Hole – Par 4 – 345 Yards

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From the pictures Andrew provided, this is one of my favourite holes on the front 9.

Andrew’s Notes – “I wouldn’t call it a true dog leg as there is more of a bend than a hook. For you long hitters, the green is makeable if there isn’t any wind.”

6th Hole – Par 3 – 186 Yards

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Another interesting design note is that the course is comprised of equal number of par 3, 4 and 5 holes.  Brudenell River in Prince Edward Island is another course which utilizes this and my sense is it makes the course more approachable for players of all skill levels.  For a resort destination, it strikes me as entirely appropriate.

Andrew’s Notes – ” This par 3 is interesting. A tight tunnel down to a multi levelled green than collects at the bottom left of the green. There is a local rule that I don’t want to spoil, but let’s just say if you loose your ball anywhere into the protected grasses, it’s gone.”

7th Hole – Par 5 – 589 Yards

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Andrew’s Notes – “I loved this hole. A long tee shot is required to get your ball into a great spot for your second shot. The picture here is an optical illusion – it’s long, but it’s not super long. You want to make sure you don’t end up in the bunkers along the right side of the hole. It’ll be long and miserable as one of my playing partners found out. The green is protected at the front and back by bunkers, but it’s a birdie hole for good players”

8th Hole – Par 5 – 542 Yards

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Andrew’s Notes – “Back to back par 5’s whet the whistle for score hounds! This is a very reachable hole in two if the wind favours you, and after talking to our caddies, that is few and far between as you are playing into the Northumberland Strait! If you get a calm day, take advantage of it. Other than that fairway bunker around the 230 – 260 range off the tee, it’s a pretty straight forward par 5. I birded this hole both days I played it.”

9th Hole – Par 3 – 126 Yards

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Like its sister course just to the south, Cliffs has its own short par 3.  And like Links, when the wind is kicking up, this would not be an easy club selection.

10th Hole – Par 5 – 557 Yards

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Andrew’s Notes – “A gorgeous par 5 that takes you along the water as you head back towards the clubhouse and starters shack. Nothing really out of the ordinary other than the wind!! Right in your face and on the second day I played it was bitterly cold and biting 🙂 The key to this hole is to start right in the middle of the fairway if you can. Lots of traps and grasses on either side, but if you can keep it dead centre, you’ll have a great third (or fourth) shot into the elevated green. The green was one of my faves. You can look back and see the whole front nine, but it’s also one of the largest greens. Just a great hole!”

11th Hole – Par 4 – 404 Yards

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This is so pure.  I love this picture.  A fabulous looking par 4.

Andrew’s Notes – “This is where you can run back to the snack shack yurt to grab a drink and a snack while waiting. Apparently during the busy period this is about the time where people start to realize how long they’ve been walking and need to rest. I loved this hole. Uphill, trees, bunkers and general hazards, the key to his hole to place it along the left side of the hole up near the bunker. About a 240 – 260 tee shot depending on your tee block. From there you can have an eye at the green and where you’ll need to place your second shot. The green runs to the back so it’s really important to get your yardages for your second. From the green you can see the whole course and it’s spectacular.”

12th Hole – Par 3 – 245 Yards

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Andrew’s Notes -“This was a wild par 3 and by wild I mean the wind can take your ball easily to where you see the gentlemen on the 13th tee block! Both days I played the wind was just howling. I ended up playing knock down shots and letting the ball roll up to the green. There was no way I was going to hold the greens. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the green is downhill from the tee block too which adds to the chaos. I liked this par 3.”

13th Hole – Par 4 – 398 Yards

Coore and Crenshaw cite this as one of their favourites on the course.

Andrew’s Notes – “An uphill par 4 which is beginning to route you away from the ocean back into the trees.  Key here is a good tee shot so you have a chance to get to the green in two.  The bunker on the right is very makeable from your tee shot, but you want to avoid it at all costs!!  It’s a beast of a bunker.  Your below the hole, sloped back and hitting to a blind elevated green. The views of the course from the green are amazing.”

14th Hole – Par 3 – 188 Yards

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Andrew’s Notes – “A great little par 3. Hitting into a green surrounded by a forest, don’t go long!! Your yardage might be off as the green is slightly downhill, but this is an easy hole to make par. I used a 5 iron both days and let the wind hold my ball in place. Due to the elevation, the wind was whipping up pretty good left to right. It’s a picturesque par 3.”

15th Hole – Par 5 – 562 Yards

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When the course routing was first shared I felt this par 5 was going to be one of the more underrated holes on the course.  The 16th and 17th (and rightfully so) take up much of the accolades for Cliffs and with a multitude of holes which are signature-worthy it is possible that the 15th gets lost in the shuffle.  Andrew enjoyed it, and for me, it remains one of the top golf holes in Canada I want to experience.

Andrew’s Notes – “A beast of a par 5!!! Stay to the right of the bunker you can see on the left – it’ll make your second shot so much easier.  A long narrow green greets you after battling the wind, so make it count! I’m not sure even in a dead calm I could make this hole in two. It’s a fantastic par 5.”

16th Hole – Par 3 – 176 Yards

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Andrew, you outdid yourself here.  Thank you for sharing a snapshot of golf heaven for us.  What a golf hole.

Andrew’s Notes – “Well, you come to this course to play this hole and it certainly didn’t let me down!  The hole is spectacular to look at – you just can’t build that type of view.  The scenery is just spectacular.  Breathtaking.  The hole itself isn’t anything too difficult.  I was able to par it both days.  The wind was so strong off the water, you didn’t have a choice but to take it out about 50 yards off the side of the cliff face.  I used an 8 iron and let the wind word the ball.  I ended up in the bunker to the left of the green both times and was easily able to make it up and down both days.  It’s just a special hole.  You can see why they use it in all their course materials.  I know they are trying to make the hole longer.  This picture shows you where they’d like the tips to be.  It would drastically change the look of the hole as you would be literally driving across “ProV1 Beach” as the caddies call it.  It was also freaking cold!!  I had 4 layers on underneath my jacket… felt like the Michelin Man.”