Location: Ingonish Beach, Nova Scotia
Course architect: Stanley Thompson
From the tips: 6,592 yards
Saturday morning green fee: $$$ ($100-$149 Cdn)
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: Yes
Greens: Poa annua and bentgrass
Starter: The course was built as a “make-work project” during the Great Depression with 200 men and just one steam shovel. The routing is exceptional, following the contours of the heaving topography. It is a healthy hike — about 8 1/2 miles.
Play because …: Set in a national park at the tip of Cape Breton Island, Highlands Links culminates a breathtaking drive along the Cabot Trail. The scenery at the course and on the drive is spectacular. The course was recently renovated to return the greens, tees and bunkers to their original states.
Takeaway: A trip back in time, well worth the trip. The course is among the best ever — guaranteed. The minimalist clubhouse and pro shop are afterthoughts to the adjacent world-famous Keltic Lodge, which was also recently renovated as a return to its previous splendor. Celtic culture, splendid seafood and the hallmark hospitality of Cape Breton.
RATINGS [1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest]
Food | beverage: 9
Pro shop: 6
Pace of play: 8
Best par 3: No. 5 (164 yards) / Canny Slap (every hole has a Gaelic nickname). Requires all carry from the tee. Take time to appreciate the dragon-shaped bunkering.
Best par 4: No. 13 (435 yards) / Laird. A huge ridge down the middle of the fairway protects the green.
Best par 5: No. 7 (570 yards) / Killiecrankie. One of the best par-5s anywhere. A troop of buried elephants marches down the narrow, twisting fairway.