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Back In Ontario — and the majesty of Cabot Links

I’m back in Ontario today (though not in time to make Al Balding’s funeral, which is at 1 pm) after my trip through Canada’s Martimes. I stopped at Highlands Links for two games — and the course is in terrific shape, the best I’ve seen in my three visits. It is also a joy to behold, though it would be great if the National Parks agreed to allow someone to go in with a chain saw and clear out some of the trees to expose the views. But that’s a slight nit pick — what an amazing golf course.

On Tuesday, I spent the morning touring Cabot Links. If there is a better site for golf in Canada, I haven’t seen it, though Alberta Dunes might be close. Still, with seaside views on every hole and fairways that will sweep next to the beach near the sea, it is hard to imagine most people would prefer an inland dunes site near Lloydminster. That site is remarkable, but Cabot Links is breathtaking. For those who don’t know about this tremendous golf site in Inverness, NS, on Cape Breton Island, I posted my National Post story on it a couple of weeks back. You can read it here.

Toronto golf visionary Ben Cowan-Dewar has hired Rod Whitman to design the site. I’m sure some won’t be able to figure out just what Cowan-Dewar has in mind, but imagine something like Scotland’s North Berwick and you’ll have a pretty good idea. The site sits between the town (which is kind of cool looking in a Carnoustie sort of way), begins on a little fishing bay and then heads out on a tract of land that rolls down from the town to the water. On the far north end of the property, the course will rest on a small rise that would be comparable to the 18th at Pebble Beach, overlooking the water with a green perched near a cliff edge. Amazing stuff. The site also has far more natural contour than many might have initially expected, especially those that have seen photos. Cowan-Dewar and Whitman are planning to build a true links, utilizing the existing natural features, including a couple of strong ridge lines. Construction is expected to begin this Fall, and it is quite possible the course, if done appropriately, will become Canada’s answer to Bandon Dunes. In other words, expect a course that will rival anything in Canada.

I’m in London next week for the LPGA Tournament, but I’ll try to catch up with some posts on the weekend.

Thankfully, the book I’ve spent the last year working on with Ron Joyce, the co-founder of Tim Hortons, is now complete after a long day yesterday, followed by a brisk round at Fox Harb’r. Called “Always Fresh: The inside story of Tim Hortons by the man who created a Canadian empire,” the book will be published by HarperCollins in October. Pre-orders suggest it should be a Canadian best seller upon release. Nice to have it finally done!

Enjoy your weekend — I’ve got a plane to catch….

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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