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Eyes on Nova Scotia

Nova ScotiaThere seems to be a lot of golf media focused on happenings in Nova Scotia. No wonder with events like the opening of Cabot Links in late June and the Telus Skins Game in late July, just to name a few.

Cabot Links has been attracting a lot of attention at the golf shows in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The Rod Whitman designed course will open for play June 29. The course, for those of you not familiar with this Scottish links layout, is located on the western side of Cape Breton Island in the former coal mining town of Inverness. I had a chance to play all 18 holes last October and what a treat. Some golfers may not like the fact that this is a treeless course and a walking course. You can ride if you have a medical reason to do so.

The course also has a caddy program, something not seen very often these days.

Cabot Links is open to the sea, has deep pot bunkers, rolling fairways and a double green. A number of the greens have deep swales.

Also opening at the same time is a 48-unit lodge right next to the course ready to welcome golfers who want to stay on site. On my visit in October I had a chance to eat in the dining room of the very modern clubhouse and the food was excellent. I expect developers Ben Cowan-Dewar and Mike Keiser will be beaming come mid-summer. If all goes well a second course will be built.

Cape Breton has a lot of diversity in its golf courses and this brings another dimension.

Speaking of great courses, Highlands Links in Ingonish, just a few hours from Cabot Links along the Cabot Trail, continues to maintain its high profile.

The course has been ranked 51st in the world and No. 1 in Canada for 2012 by www.top100golfcourses.co.uk.

Canadian architect Ian Andrew has been doing some work at Highlands restoring bunkers and improving drainage, etc. Course staff have had a tree removal program underway for the past few years and what a difference it has made to improve greens that had been blocked out to the sun. The tree removal has also improved views of the ocean and other parts of the course.

By the way, between Cabot Links and Highlands Links is Le Portage, a great little course in Cheticamp. Definitely worth a game on your way through.

In July, the Telus Skins game will celebrate its 20th anniversary at Glen Arbour golf course near Halifax. Players haven’t been announced yet but the event always has some great players.

Some golfers may remember Glen Arbour as the site of the 2005 BMO Canadian Ladies Open.

Also on the books for Nova Scotia is another course planned for development as part of a luxury resort. The planned course, about 60 kilometres west of Halifax, is called Forest Lakes Golf and Country Club and is being designed by Nicklaus Design.

The developer, Terra Firma Development Corp., isn’t saying much at this point but local sources claim course construction will start this spring. It will be the first course for Nicklaus Design in this part of the country. Just a note, the Nicklaus people had some involvement in planning a course in Inverness a number of years ago on the Cabot Links site. The American interests involved in that project pulled out. It was reported they just couldn’t get a big chain hotel to locate there.

The people involved with Terra Firma have lots of international experience in managing and developing high-end resorts around the world. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this one.

According to their website the Nova Scotia project will have a conference centre, hotel and a variety of accommodations properties.

One other note from the Maritimes, reports out of New Brunswick are that the province is selling the Algonquin Hotel and Golf course at St. Andrews.  The purchasers at New Castle Hotels & Resorts of Connecticut and Southwest Properties of Halifax. Word is they plan to upgrade the facilities and operate under the Marriott banner.

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Tom Peters

Tom Peters is a freelance writer based in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, a suburb of Halifax. In December 2009 he retired after 41 years with The Halifax Chronicle Herald. He covered competitive golf regionally for the paper in his early days as reporter and over the years has freelanced golf travel articles to a number of major golf and business publications. He is a member and a director of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada.

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