Nova Scotia’s Top 5 Coolest Golf Courses:
I know, it sounds like an oxymoron, ‘cool golf courses’ but they happen. With these Nova Scotia properties now offering everything from après golf skeet shooting to lobster rolls and views over a UNESCO World Heritage Site, how could you argue?
1. Fox Harb’r Golf Resort and Spa:
Nova Scotia’s only five-star property and gated community once hosted Tiger Woods. While you could arrive in style via the private airstrip or marina, the drive is a scenic, two-hours from the Halifax International Airport. Owner Ron Joyce, of Tim Horton’s coffee fame, provides his highly addictive substance in all the suites and the otherwise high-end dining room.
The back nine holes hugging the Atlantic Ocean offer true links-style golf while the front nine feature super fast greens on odd-shaped holes carved out of the forest. A nine-hole par 3 course – perfect for the kids is free with all reservations.
The very manly sporting lodge, buried deep on the property and missing only the “No girls allowed” sign offers skeet shooting as an après golf activity.
2. Glen Arbour Golf Course
Halifax is an excellent place to start or end your Nova Scotia golf trip. Twenty minutes from downtown, play the Glen Arbour Golf Course, host to the inaugural Wayne Gretzky and Friend’s Invitational and more recently, the BMO Canadian Ladies Open.
Canadian golf architect Graham Cooke, creator of Fox Harb’r, chose this property for its natural features and proximity to the capital city. At 6,800 yards, Glen Arbour is short by today’s standards but the water hazards, wooded areas, elevation changes and bent grass greens more than make up for the yardage to challenge players of all levels.
In addition to this championship course, Glen Arbour offers a nine-hole par 3 track that’s perfect for a quick practice round or a chance to get out with the kids.
Don’t miss lunch at the Georgian – style clubhouse for panoramic views of Sandy Lake and the 9th and 18th fairways.
3. Chester Golf Club:
Continue driving forty minutes south along Nova Scotia’s scenic Route 3 to the Chester Golf Club, which sits on Chester Basin. Try to play here at twilight for the great sunset views from the ocean holes.
On the narrow second hole, beware of the steep cliff dropping into the Atlantic to your right on the 183-yard par 3. You’re safer in the sand trap to the left should you miss the grassy slope that feeds down to the hole.
4. The Bluenose Golf Club:
Thirty minutes further along Route 3 in Lunenburg, play the nine-hole Bluenose Golf Club, overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage Site of downtown. On this hilly course most of your shots will be played with the ball either above or below your feet.
All of the holes are interesting in their own right, but the final par 4, played downhill on an angle, functions as an optical illusion. Aim 50% further left than what your eyes are telling you.
Celebrate your pars with a lunch of fresh lobster rolls washed down with a local brew while watching the fishermen tending to their scallop boats in the harbour below.
5. Bell Bay Golf Club:
Bell Bay Golf Club sits high above Cape Breton’s Bras d’Or Lakes – the world’s largest inland salt-water bodies. Designed by Thomas Mc Broom, Bell Bay offers a Golf Digest-recommended round for a high season fee of less than $100.00 with ‘Stay and Play’ deals for not much more.
The course takes full advantage of the area’s natural features, with each hole boasting a different experience than the last. On some holes, fairways slant downwards towards wooded areas while others force players to shoot uphill towards the woods surrounding the flagstick.
Bell Bay’s 16th hole tempts players to go for the green, which requires a tricky draw shot in a perfect risk – reward scenario. The par 3, 17th signature hole requires players to hit over a 180-foot gully to a green protected by a grove of trees. Most players fail to take enough club on this one. You’ve been warned.
On the 18th, the Bras d’Or Lakes and Alexander Graham Bell’s summer estate are fully visible as players shoot over a gorge. The hole then winds its way to the clubhouse, under the Cape Breton Highlands.