The second part of my look at Cabot Links, the new course by Rod Whitman in Inverness, NS. Day one (holes 1 through 6) can be found here.
Hole 7 – A long par four that plays away from the ocean and along the road that runs to the beach. One of the wider fairways on the course, members of my group missed their tee shots 40 yards to the right and still found short grass. The ideal approach is to flirt with the bunker on the left of the fairway, which will leave a mid-iron approach to a green that plays up a slight rise. Many will likely misjudge the approach, coming up short. This green was smart, with some interesting contour on the front half and a false front. Not picturesque or dramatic, but a solid golf hole with alternative ways of chasing par. Some might wonder what all the fuss is about at this point, but given the open nature of the site, they are aware of what is forthcoming. That sense of anticipation is key to good golf design.
Hole 8 – This is what golfers have been waiting for and likely the first of the truly exceptional and breathtaking holes at Cabot. A mid-length par three to a large green, shots missed on the right will be gobbled up by an expansive bunker that protects the slope on that side of the green. With the bay behind the green, and the par four eighth awaiting, this is a stunningly attractive hole. It’ll be interesting to see the options available to players once the turf in front of the green firms up.
Hole 9 – I’d call this a non-traditional Cape hole, where the goal of the golfer is to cut some of the water and bring in a shorter approach. Back tees stretch this one out to the point where that strategy disappears, but more forward tees certainly allow for golfers to cut some of the corner which swings to the left. Those unwilling to try that bold approach can hit their tee shot to a wide expanse of fairway that is obscured by the tee but covers the right side of the hole. The green, set right on the bay with boats bobbing in the background, is exceptional, with a steep slope on the right that runs to the back, allowing golfers to play away from the water and have the slope take their shots back to the middle of the putting surface. The green comes in on-grade, allowing for running approaches. It may not be the Cape hole CB Macdonald envisioned, but it might be the one everyone talks about after leaving Cabot Links. Co-owner Mike Keiser calls it the “best Cape hole in the world.”
Hole 10 – Another hole that might appear a little mundane at first if it were not for the ocean in the background. However, that
belies its intriguing strategies. A deep nasty bunker situated to the back right makes the farthest pin positions a real challenge. It may not look that difficult at first, especially from the 150-yard tees, but look behind and you’ll notice a tee box perched behind the roadway that provides access to the beach. At 200 yards this is a tough hole, especially if the breeze is blowing off the ocean. However, like many others in the course, Whitman has provided chipping hollows that allow near misses to potentially recover.
Hole 11 – At 582-yards from the tips, there’s actually more room off the tee than immediately meets the eye. This is one of the holes that reminded me more of Long Island than Scotland, perhaps because like hole 13, the tee shot is low and played over a marshy area with the landing area obscured by reeds. However, this quickly turned into one of my favourites on the course, despite the difficulty in determining where the left side of the fairway stretches (which is sort of key to the strategy and one I’m told will be fixed to provide a better sense of the short grass area). Those playing wide to the right then face a shot over a ridge to an expansive fairway and the double green. Whitman has once again cleverly created a rustic and rugged hillock that separates this hole from the fairway of 13 (which runs in the same direction), and it is a nice touch, smart enough to fool one of my group into thinking it is natural. The green is a wonder, with the most movement of any on the course. False fronts abound, and small flatter pockets are surrounded by move severe slopes. There are tons of pin positions on the green, but if you miss your shot, you’ll have to make smart putts to deal with Whitman’s diabolical slopes.
Hole 12 – Another hole that plays off the ridge in the middle of the course, at 452-yards this appears like a really difficult hole. Truthfully I didn’t find it one of the harder on the course, perhaps because the right side of the hole is canted towards the fairway, which is quite wide and plays downhill. A sprawling waste bunker on the right is pretty much impossible to carry from the back tees, so there’s no reason to tempt it. The green is long with chipping hollows to the right and left. One of the holes away from the ocean that I didn’t have a good sense of, and with the exception of the shaping on the left of the fairway which might be overdone, this is a solid, fun par four that allows you to take a big swing with your driver.