Heading to Cabot; How Crucial is Highlands Links?


#1

Driving up from Boston with 7 other guys (my dad, my 3 friends, and their dads) for 3 nights at Cabot over Labor Day Weekend. Trying to convince the group to make the 2 hour drive north to play Cape Breton Highlands before turning around and chugging back to Boston. Getting met with resistance from those less inspired (insane?) than me. Has anyone played Highlands and would you consider it a “must-play”? I know it’s been in rough shape in the recent past but have heard rumblings of better maintenance… all feedback appreciated.


#2

Ran into same issue (of convincing my group). Ended up not making the trek. Cabot was so good though that I pretty much forgot Highlands even existed.


#3

I would go to Cape Breton FIRST. Save the dessert for where it’s supposed to be…but how can you go ALL that way and NOT do this? Even if you do it alone, I would do it. That’s REMOTE.


#4

I grew up in Cape Breton and have played Highlands Links many times. Prior to Cabot being built, I would absolutely call it a “must play”. That said, I’ve heard some horror stories about the conditions (none I can confirm first-hand, but I’ve seen pictures on twitter) that would make me rethink my position. Factor in that it’s a long drive in the opposite direction to get there (probably longer than 2 hrs on a long weekend in tourist season), and it’s a long round when you get there (expect 5-5.5 hrs in my experience), and I don’t know that I would consider it worth the effort.

That said, adding it to your itinerary would give you an excuse to drive around the Cabot Trail (don’t turn around and go back after your round, go all the way around the trail instead), and I’d consider that a “must do” for anyone visiting Cape Breton. The scenery is spectacular.

For what it’s worth, my vote for a “bonus round” on your way home would be to go to Baddeck and play Bell Bay. It’s just under an hour from Cabot and not really out of your way, is an interesting layout with great views of the Bras D’or lakes and has a great 3-hole finish.


#5

second this… while i didn’t get to play Highlands, we did take our WAGS on a drive around the trail and it was pretty special.


#6

It really depends on what you’re looking to get out of your visit. Highlands is an iconic Canadian course that used to rank as top course in the country. Unfortunately, the course has seen very poor conditioning over the years, especially lately it seems. A combination of tough winters combined with a lack of funds/resources/management to keep up. So if that really turns you off, it might not be for you or the group (especially if some aren’t convinved anyway!). VERY hard to beat Cabot…

I’m from from Nova Scotia (and still live here!) so definitely a bit biased. I think it has an interesting layout with some great holes. Incredible setting along the Cabot Trail – and you really can’t go wrong exploring more of Cape Breton Island!

As previously mentioned, Bell Bay is good course and is much closer to where you’ll be, so that could be a fun day trip to see another part of the island. Enjoy!


#7

Sounds like there was some fairly significant restoration work completed. Have a listen here: https://golftripx.com/golfgetaways/2018/01/12/talking-golfgetaways-ep-83-restoring-stanley-thompson-classic-canadian-golf-architect-historian-ian-andrew-107996/. Great history on Thompson and the course – worth a listen if you’re into GCA and/or will be visiting the area. Andrew indicates it’s taking time for the course to get back in shape after years of too much shade and other issues, but a huge step forward!


#8

Thanks! Will listen