Cabot Cliffs may well be the younger of the two siblings but what Coore & Crenshaw have done here is nothing less than magnificent. This seaside clifftop property must have been a real challenge to route a course through. The genius of Bill Coore not only managed that but at the same time put together one of the best new courses in the world and one that immediately takes its place among the world’s Top 100 greats.
After a fairly gentle handshake Cabot Cliffs heats up already on the 2nd hole and gives you a taste of what’s in store.
The 2nd is a short par 4 with an infinitely wide fairway. It’s a solid 60 yards below the tee and requires a well placed and measured tee shot. A hybrid or long iron for longer hitters, 3 wood for medium hitters and possibly driver for shorter hitters. We were instructed to play to the left side which requires a shorter carry and provided a nice kick forward down to the fairway. Most importantly it provided arguably the best look at the approach to the left center pin position. The green was in a horseshoe shape around a large dune, a unique concept. It’s also raised and sloping severely back to front – easy enough to hit but often leaving a challenging two putt.
The next notable hole is the par 4 5th, which is a cape hole requiring an excellent drive with a high degree of precision. The drive is semi blind up over a slope to the right. A solid drive will run down the hill leaving a decent approach into a large green sloping severely right to left. This approach is made tricky, as it must be played from a right to left sloping fairway. A well placed approach right of the pin may just allow for a decent birdie opportunity.
The par 5 7th hole may well be the toughest and most intimidating on the front 9. The drive is deceptive and requires a very accurate tee shot to carry the ravine. It has a heroic element to it with a bunker running down the right side daring you to take it on and try and make the carry. The hole is a definitely a 3 shot par 5. A solid drive finding the fairway will be challenged by the second shot which plays much wider than it looks. As we played this hole straight into the wind the approach, which plays over a low area to a raised green with a huge bunker on the front left side, was extremely challenging each time.
After a solid start the back 9 really heats up with the par 3, 13th one of the most challenging 3’s on the course. Dealing with the wind this long 1 shotter plays to a tricky right to left sloping green that runs away diagonally from the line of play. At 200+ yards this will be as much as even the best players can bite off.
The par 5, 14th is a reachable par 5. A solid drive taking on the mound on the left side will receive a forward kick leaving a steep downhill approach into a green sloping severely front to back. Reachable as it is I never managed more than a 5 on this hole as putting and chipping around the green requires significant touch.
The iconic 16th hole is the crazy cliff top par 3 playing over the sea to a sliver thin green running perpendicular to the line of play. Adding to the challenge is the wind and the fact that the green is semi blind with the exception of the far right pin position which you can hope you don’t have to deal with.
The 17th may well be one of the most crazy and spectacular blind tee shots you will ever play. Some argue it’s too extreme but I think it adds to the dramatically spectacular finish at Cabot Cliffs. It’s hard to explain this hole but imagine standing on a cliff 150 ft above the crashing waves then playing your tee shot out over the abyss and across to a fairway that slopes steeply away from the line of play down to a green some 50 ft below. From the tee all you can see is the edge of the opposite cliff that runs from the high point on the left down and diagonally away from the tee box. The fairway and tee shot are blind, it’s a cut off as much as you can chew with an opportunity to drive the green on this short 4. A deep bunker fronts the green, shots that veer left and come up short, even up to 100yds short, can be putted down the steep slope around the front bunker. A fun shot to watch your putt break 30-40ft left to right and end up near a back right or front right flag.
The 18th brings you home along the cliffs and ocean in truly breathtaking fashion. A solid drive allows for a chance to take on this green in two. A great risk reward par 5 to rap things up.
Cabot Cliffs in my view steals the show and remains one of the best contributions of Coore & Crenshaw to the golf world to date. It’s the perfect 1,2 punch to keep the golf world returning for more.
Date: June 22, 2018