No surprise here, Cabot Links in Cape Breton has been named the best new course in Canada for 2012 by influential ScoreGolf magazine.
The outstanding links on the shores at Inverness, N.S., beat out five other courses for the honour.
Cabot officially opened this summer amid a mountain of hype because of its epic design, by Canadian architect Rod Whitman, its spectacular ocean views, its ownership group that includes Mike Keiser of Bandon Dunes fame and Canadian businessman Ben Cowan-Dewar, and its audacious aim to turn a former coal town into a golf mecca.
ScoreGolf calls Cabot “a fantastic, fun and exhilarating golf experience” and said its panelists gave it an average rating of 8.57 out of 10.
Full disclosure: I’m on the panel. I visited the course in 2011 and even though a handful of the holes were not completely finished, it was obvious that Cabot is a special place and a truly unique golf course, for Canada anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it ranked among Canada’s top 10 eventually. (It would make my top 10 easily.)
The other new courses under consideration by ScoreGolf were Blue Devil in Calgary, Oak Bay in Port Severn, Ont., The Quarry in Edmonton, Southwood in Winnipeg and Wildstone in Cranbrook, B.C.
A second course at Cabot Links is planned. It is to be located less than a couple of kilometres away on the cliffs that overlook Inverness and the ocean. Appropriately called Cabot Cliffs, it is to be designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Wouldn’t be surprising to see it win the same ScoreGolf award after it opens.
CANADIAN CONNECTION: The World Golf Hall of Fame announced Thursday that Willie Park Jr. will be enshrined with the class of 2013 that includes Ken Venturi and Fred Couples.
The name might not mean much to casual golf observers today, but Park of Scotland was an influential figure in international golf in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and he had important Canadian connections.
He was a two-time winner of the Open Championship and had a brilliant second career as an architect. Regarded as one of the first two architects who made a living designing courses (Donald Ross was the other), Park drafted 170 layouts including the Old Course at Sunningdale near London, Maidstone in Long Island, N.Y., and Olympia Fields in Chicago.
His Canadian work was equally notable, with Weston Golf & Country Club in Toronto his strongest.
“Mr. Park designed several famous courses including Sunningdale, Maidstone and Olympia Fields, and we have always felt that Weston can and should be mentioned in the same breath as these other fine Willie Park Jr. creations,” Colin Imrie, the head professional at Weston, said in an e-mail.
Weston, in west Toronto, continues to hold the Willie Park Invitational for elite amateurs each year. The tournament started in 1925 to memorialize Park’s passing.
“We our proud of our association with Mr. Park and are pleased that he has received the ultimate recognition in a World Golf Hall of Fame induction,” Imrie said. “Mr. Park's induction will perhaps entice golf enthusiasts to visit what we feel is the finest member golf club in the nation.”
Weston, incidentally, also has the distinction of being the venue for Arnold Palmer’s first PGA Tour victory, at the 1995 Canadian Open.
Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, Laval-sur-le-Lac’s Green course in Laval, Que., Mount Bruno in Saint-Bruno, Que., and Calgary Golf and Country Club are all also Park designs.
Park will be inducted posthumously in the Hall in St. Augustine, Fla., on May 6, 2013. His father, Willie Park, is also an inductee.
The Short Game blog is a compilation of small news stories, statistics and analysis from the wide world of golf, with a focus on Canadian content. Jeff Brooke has written about golf for The Globe and Mail since his first assignment at the 2007 Masters.