Review for Cabot Links

Reviewer Score:


I played Cabot Links twice in September, 2016 along with two rounds at Cabot Cliffs. We stayed onsite after coming from a round at Cape Breton Highland Links.

Rod Whitman designed Cabot Links and built much of it himself over a three year period.

After the first round I felt Cabot Links to have a fantastic routing but felt the greens were silly given the pin locations on 14 of the 18 holes. I much preferred Cabot Cliffs. But after the second round on both, I preferred Cabot Links because I think it is the course that requires more decision-making and strategy. I also think it does not suffer as much from fairways that are too wide which is the case at Cabot Cliffs. I also believe it has the better green complexes. I do think Cabot Cliffs has the more visually stunning holes due to its higher cliffside locations and the bigger changes in elevation. Cabot Cliffs has more holes that are also “best in the world.” On my own personal rating scale, I do rate Cabot Cliffs higher, but if I returned I would play Cabot Links twice for every round at Cabot Cliffs. It’s a close call between the two of them. I am glad we have both to play.

The routing from the Black tees is 6854, par 70, rated 73.7/132 and from the Green tees is 6455 rated 71.6/125. The other tees are 6020/4942/3691 which is amazing as I have never seen this before anywhere.

I felt the best holes to be 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 16 and 18. There are six greens that I felt were too severe but if the pins are not near some of those severe spots, then the greens are fine.

There are magnificent views of the coastline and the ocean from the course. While Cabot Links does not have the spectacular views of Cabot Cliffs, which sits on higher ground, the views are amazing and one gets the added bonus of playing alongside the attractive hotel. Cabot Cliffs offers more dramatic change in elevation, yet Cabot Links offers plenty of change in elevation as well. Both offer rolling, undulating fairways with some dramatic drops and valleys. Both have excellent routings playing in all directions with the tees and green sites nearly perfectly laid out to take advantage of the best spots of land. Both courses offer blow-out, raised, deep, irregular bunkers that are both lovely to look at and terrifying to play from them.

Cabot Cliffs may offer the more spectacular holes in #2, #5, #7 and #16 but Cabot Links has holes that are perhaps even more challenging, just not quite as beautiful.

The reasons I favor the Links over the Cliffs is that the Links has more variety in its holes. Although the course does not play much longer (90 and 70 yard differences from the Black and Green tees), than Cabot Cliffs, it has a better variety of par 4’s and I think the more interesting par 5’s save for the seventh at the Cliffs course. As for the par 3’s, they are roughly the same. Although the greens are borderline unplayable based on some pin locations on the Links course (I think six greens should be softened), they are better greens than the Cliffs. Finally, Cabot Links does not have a terrible hole on it, which is my opinion of the 17th at the Cliffs. I have heard many golfers also say that the 16th on Cabot Cliffs is not a good hole, although spectacular to view.

Finally, I really like the echos of Scotland in Cabot Links beginning with the short 14th at 102 yards (Royal Troon Old) and finishing at a green hard by windows to the restaurant and the outdoor seating area (St. Andrews Old). There is a double green as well (St. Andrews Old). While the Cliffs course has possibly more dramatic changes in elevation than Cruden Bay, the Links course reminds me of the changes in the land at Trump Turnberry Ailsa. In summary, the Cliffs course is so breathtaking that it is a course that is “tourist golf,” as opposed to a course that is for better golfers. In art terms, one is a Monet and the other is a Manet.

1 – par 5 540/530. This is a straightforward hole that eases one into the round. It is a slight double dogleg with a generous fairway. There is a large bunker and a long bunker left and a bunker right raised a bit into the dune. Nearer the green there are fronting bunkers and two pot bunkers on the right. There is some really interesting contouring nearer the green that can propel a ball one way or the other, or perhaps even stop it, with the swale on the right kicking a ball well offline. The green is set off to the right. While the two courses are not necessarily in competition with each other, I preferred this par 5 opener to the one on the Cliffs course. As I played it I wondered whether anyone was watching from their hotel room.

2 – par 3 247/230. This hole has a very big green, nearly 50 yards in length. There is a three feet horizontal swale near the middle of the green. A bunker is set off on the right middle. I thought it to be a fun hole for shorter hitters because one can run their ball onto the hole, thereby reducing the need to hit “all out.” Of course, if the wind is in one’s face, this hole is likely more about limiting the high score.

3 – par 4 330/313. There are no bunkers on this sharp dogleg right with a very generous fairway. There are a few raised mounds on the left center of the fairway followed by a raised mound on the left front of the green. This mound near the green make a pitch over it difficult if the pin is in the front. For those attempting to drive the green by cutting over the dogleg there is relatively high grass. The green has humps and hollows throughout and on round one the pin was placed on the top of one that was a bit silly.

4 – par 4 450/410. This hole goes uphill back towards the town. There are scattered, deep bunkers down the left and right followed by a centerline bunker. The green is still above you with two small middle fronting bunkers and one put bunker back left. The green is angled left to right with the higher ground to the right. On my first round the pin was placed in a spot that seemed both inaccessible and one could not stop the putt coming back down to it. Therefore, I disliked the hole despite the bunkering and visual. After the second round, it became one of my favorite holes with a better pin location. I putted to several spots of the green and realized that it is a fair green and a very good golf hole.

5 - par 3 178/172. Hitting over bushes downhill to a green with bunkers on the front right and fall-offs around the raised green, this is visually a better hole than it plays due to the bushes and flowers on the hill to the left of the hole. I consider it to be a transition hole but equal to several of the par 3’s on the Cliffs course.

6 – par 4 465/440. This Cape hole is simply gorgeous as it sharply curves around the pond going as a dogleg left to a green that slopes back to front and right to left. One sees the boats in the background tied up at the small harbor and the dunes framing the right side of the fairway. There are only two small bunkers on the left on this hole as well as sand on the left between the green and the water to try to save a ball hit into the green with too much pace or distance. This is my favorite hole at Cabot. If one hits a good tee shot, the second shot seems so inviting, but it is not easily judged given the green’s left side is at the edge of the water and the fairway is sloped to leave the ball above your feet.

7 – par 3 192/186. Playing to the coastline with the beach ahead, this slightly downhill par 3 located in the dunes offers a chance to run a ball onto the small green with long bunkers to either side. This kicks off five holes by the water. I like this hole.

8 - par 5 580/550. This is a terrific par 5 paralleling the coastline with the beach to the left. The slightly elevated tee has you playing over grasses to a wide fairway out to the right, then back to the left in order to get around a massive bunker and dune area between the beach and the left side of the fairway as well as to get over a ridge in the terrain making the second shot a blind shot. The approach shot to a massive green must carry the bunkers left and right on the front with a swale to the right and behind the green. The green is large as it is shared with the thirteenth and it is very undulated with rolls throughout and a depression front left and a plateau back right.

One aspect I really like here is that the ninth tee, twelfth and fourteenth tee all start their holes from essentially the same high dune.

9 – par 4 360/340. Playing from the elevated tee, there are in essence three centerline bunkers to consider, one on the drive and then two short of the green. There is also a bunker complex placed into a small hill on the right. The green is surrounded by bunkers. This green has a significant false front that will send one’s ball as much as fifty feet away. On round one, the pin was placed at the beginning of it and I had to chip back at it, went a few inches too and went off the front. No one in our group did not end off the front. On round two the pin was placed at the back of the green and it is a fairly easy par.

10 - par 4 385/355. This lovely hole works it way down the slope towards the water following a blind tee shot. There is large, raised bunker complex on the right corner of this dogleg right. There are several bunkers short of the green on the right creating an illusion that you need another club. Finally, there is a single pot bunker front left. The green slopes right to left and front to back following the land. Much like the ninth, I did like the hole but found that once I had played it and learned how to play it, it became a lot easier.

11- par 5 620/580. This amazing par 5 offers an excellent risk-reward decision for the approach shot due to the large, wide, deep valley fronting the green. This is a hole that continually works to the right. While the fairway is wide for the tee shot and plays downhill, the longer hitters have to consider a collection of bunkers at the end of the fairway on the right. For the second shot one has to decide whether to go up the left side which is narrow and brings another collection of bunkers into play, try to avoid a pot bunker in the middle of the fairway, or lay up short of that ravine/valley. The green sits on a plateau and runs away from you with higher mounds behind the green and a bunker front right. If one can successfully navigate the left side of the fairway with their second shot, they will be rewarded with a view of the green and a much easier shot in. It is a wonderful hole taking optimal advantage of the land to create drama. For me it is my second favorite hole on the golf course as it offers every option for longer shots, shorter shots, pitches, boldness and conservatism.

12 – par 4 450/425. This is a difficult hole playing as a dogleg right with a deep bunker on the right and two flanking bunkers fronting a raised green. For a player whose miss is to the right, the green never seems to be truly visible with the right side having bushes and higher ground from the middle of the hole to the back of the green. I like the hole due to its difficulty.

13 – par 4 440/420. This slightly uphill hole has a forced carry over wetlands and grasses with massive bunkers built into the side of the ridge that one must carry to get to the fairway. Fortunately, this hole is generally downwind. This green is shared with the eighth hole. There is another centerline bunker and then two bunkers at the front of the green. The green is very undulated and almost unfair. It is a wonderful hole.

14 – par 3 102/95. Looking right at the water from the higher tee, this green is large but affected by the wind. A single pot bunker guards the green with fall-offs left and right. In the absence of wind, this hole is not much with the biggest distraction being the views. With any wind even as low as 8-10mph, this hole is a delight.

15 - par 4 413/385. Much like the eighth, this hole plays along the coast with another forced carry to a fairway that narrows at the green where several bunkers await at the front. The green is irregular shaped sitting on slightly higher ground. The safe play is to the wider part of the fairway off to the right but that provides a bad angle to the reverse foot-shaped green that falls off to the right behind the bunker before the green returns. This hole and sixteen provide the best look at the beach which can be distracting. It is a very nice hole.

16 – par 4 457/430. There are three bunkers scattered down the left and right of the landing zone and then a single bunker at the back of the elevated green. This is my third favorite hole on the course given the higher land on the fairway to the right side, a green angled right to left with a severe fall-off on the left due to the start of ravine down to the beach. The right side of the fairway rolls with swales and minor dips with the left side having flatter land. The bunkers on the right side of the fairway are slightly raised with land sculpted to bring balls into them. It is a very good golf hole.

17 – par 3 170/142. The final par 3 is a good one with a green that is thinner on the back left. There are four surrounding bunkers equally spaced although the front one is set back from the green about ten yards. There is a false front to the left side of the green. The green is sloped steeply back to front. It is another good hole and something tells me I do not list it as one of the best simply because I feel I have listed too many holes.

18 – par 4 475/452. This is an excellent finishing hole as you finish by the hotel, restaurant and outdoor drinking area. This hole begins with a blind drive over a ridge with the church or part of the clubhouse as your target depending on the wind. About 100 yards out from the green the hotel appears on the left and continues to the green. There is a bunker right not in play and one left that is in play. For the approach shot there are two bunkers short where the land provides an opportunity to run the ball onto the raised green with fall-offs to all sides and sharply sloped back to front. There are three bunkers right of the green to defend against those trying to ensure they do not hit left into the restaurant. There is a single central bunker left of the green.

I really like Cabot Links. I encourage everyone to make the trip to Cabot and play both courses. As I said, on my own personal rating scale I rate Cabot Cliff just a bit higher but Cabot Links is the course I preferred to play. It really offers everything that one would want from golf – strategy, undulating fairways, undulating greens, different shaped greens, blind shots, short par 3’s, long par 3’s and the same for the par 4 and 5s. It has stunning coastal scenery, can be very influenced by the strength and direction of the wind. It is one of the very best courses that I have ever played.

Date: June 06, 2020

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