Northumberland Links bouncing back

Northumberland Links Golf Course, on Nova Scotia’s North Shore, continues to
impress. In the latest SCOREGolf rankings. Northumberland Links is ranked the 42nd best public course in Canada. Not surprising and with its new look that ranking could go a lot higher as the course gets more exposure.

If you had never played the Northumberland course prior to the ravages of Hurricane
Fiona last September, you would find this 18-hole, seaside layout to be a very pleasant,
challenging and open design.
Prior to Fiona’s devastating attack, Northumberland was almost two courses in one, a
string of holes along the Northumberland Strait with the remainder of the layout
routed inland and, for the most part, lined with trees. When Fiona left, the trees were
flattened and the cleanup began. I visited Northumberland before the golf season
began and couldn’t believe the change in the landscape. I walked around the course
and, without the trees, it was tricky trying to figure which hole I was on even though I
had played the course eight or 10 times before.
This past July I played the course again and was pleasantly surprised with its openness
and the views of the ocean from nearly every vantage point on the course. Those “two
courses” had become one.
John Mills, course superintendent, told me during that April visit that he felt the course
would come out, once cleaned up, to be a better course. Obviously, a man of vision.
Golfers who had played the layout before Fiona were generally shocked at the change,
Mills told me in July. “They loved the views and I think that seems to be the dominant
theme. Many say they are still the same greens and the same tees,” and for the most
part, the same holes, but the course “looks different.”
One hole that has definitely change is No. 17.
“The 17 th is a new golf hole. We added 40 yards and the angle is totally different with
an open view. On a clear day you can see the Strait and even the Fixed Link
(Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island)”.
Even though there is still a lot of work to do cleaning up along the edges of the
fairways, Mills feels Northumberland has come out of this a better course.

“I think it is better because it feels like one golf course now. It feels connected as an
open course with all the views. Before it was only half open with several holes in the
trees. I think the challenge now is finding your sight lines and having confidence with
your shot. Once we finish the work, it will get even better,” he said.
The Par 72 layout, running just over 6,600 yards from the back tees, has, for a long
time, been considered one of the best courses in the Atlantic region.
It opened in 1964 as a nine-hole layout and then in 1988 Northumberland was
expanded and redesigned by Canadian architect Bill Robinson, whose designs let the
land dictate the layout, a similar view to Canadian great, Stanley Thompson.
Now, as golfers experience even more spectacular views of the ocean and play a more
open concept course, they may also be experiencing the start of an exciting new era for
Northumberland Links.

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Jeff Lancaster

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