How to Experience Cabot Cliffs Golf Course When You Don’t Golf

August 23, 2023   2 Comments »

“What is a links course anyway?” I asked as we pulled into the swanky Cabot Links Resort in the little town of Inverness in Cape Breton. I’m not a golfer, so I don’t follow golf, I know nothing about golf terms, and I never really understood the ‘draw’ to what motivates people to be excited about golf. However, Pete and Dalene, my travel companions, are golfers. They’ve been looking forward to this moment at Cabot Cliffs Golf Course the whole trip. We’ve been carrying their clubs around in our rental car for 3 weeks now, and finally they are going to get some use.

I Don’t Like Golf

I tried to understand golf, and I even tried to love it once upon a time. Back in my early 20’s I even joined a women’s golf league. My sister, who is a golf fanatic, gave me her old set of clubs and signed me up for a women’s golf league that met every Wednesday in the summer.

I went to driving ranges trying to learn how to swing. However, my swing always got confused with a softball swing (which is a sport I love and grew up playing my whole life), and that’s not a good thing. I never really excelled at golf, yet I drug myself to that women’s league every Wednesday. For some reason hitting a little ball (poorly in my case) and walking around from hole to hole seemed really pointless to me.

Is Golf Considered Exercise?

People would tell me that it’s great ‘exercise’, but honestly running is exercise to me, not walking a golf course. The only exercise it resembled was an exercise in futility for me. And I basically stayed on the league to not be a quitter (my dad taught me well), and to hang out afterwards with my girlfriends and drink beer.

cabot links

I decided after that summer I didn’t need to waste time on things I wasn’t that interested in. And I could go out and drink with my girlfriends other nights. So the golf clubs went back to my sister and I vowed never to golf again and waste my time on things I don’t love.

So – What is a Links Course?

Pete starts to explain to me what a links golf course is and I sort of pay attention, but my mind is truthfully wandering to the next day. When they are out golfing this world famous links course, I plan to do stuff I love – like hiking! I’m really excited we both get to do something we love and I’m excited I don’t have to write about golf, experience golf, or do anything golf related.

But wait a minute…why am I writing about golf then?

Sometimes Plans Change

We stayed in an incredible villa overlooking the Cabot Links golf course and the plan was for Pete and Dalene to get up and golf at the Cabot Cliffs Golf Course nearby. I was going to take the rental car and explore on my own for the day; my favorite kind of day!

But that morning Pete came knocking on my door early. He explained that Dalene wasn’t feeling well and she wouldn’t be able to golf. I felt horrible, as I knew how much she was looking forward to this. But this shitty cancer and recovery journey she had been on for the last 6 months had reared it’s ugly head again and suddenly left her incapacitated this particular morning.

This wasn’t exactly a surprise as this was her first trip since she was declared cancer free; she was just getting her legs underneath her again after months of treatment. I was honored I got to travel with her on this momentous ‘first journey’. She had her ups and downs on the trip and her desire to get back to ‘normal life’ left her pushing herself a little too hard at times on the Cape Breton hiking trails. But I admired her fight more than anything.

But this morning’s news was still shocking to me as I figured her sheer excitement for golf would beat out any exhaustion. But it didn’t, and suddenly Pete was golfing alone.

It was too late to cancel the other spot really, so Pete asked if I wanted to golf. I thought about it for a second out of friendship, but the thought of me trying to golf for the first time in 20 years on a course that is ranked 19th in the world’s top 100 golf courses seemed like a really, really bad idea.

I had to say no. I just couldn’t do it.

So Pete asked if I could come and walk the first 3 holes and take a few pictures and videos as an alternative. Walk a few holes and take pictures? That seemed reasonable.

Looking for more things to do on Cape Breton Island? Read about the culture, golf, hiking, food and more

Walking Cabot Cliffs Golf Course

Cabot Cliffs

For the first time in 20 years I stepped onto a golf course again. And not just any golf course, the Cabot Cliffs Golf course; this was Cape Breton’s premier golf course and the best new course of 2015.

Needless to say – I felt a little self-conscious. That was always the part about golf I disliked, I felt like it was such a prestigious game for wealthy people with wealthy hobbies; I always felt like I didn’t belong. We weren’t even completely sure they’d let me walk along on such a renowned course, but they didn’t seem to have any issue with it.

A Caddie is Required

There are no carts on the course, only caddies, and Pete had a caddie, which was a whole new level of prestige to me that made me feel slightly awkward. I just decided to roll with it and dubbed myself the camera caddie trying to add a little levity to this serious game.

Cabot Cliffs Golf Course Caddie
Pete’s Caddie

I planned to just walk the first 3 holes and leave. After all, I didn’t think the other people they would put us with would really appreciate a walker. A young couple showed up and said they were paired with us. As we introduced ourselves, the woman apologized and said she wasn’t going to be playing, but just walking along.

What?! I had a walking buddy all of a sudden, which meant the guys had a cheering section…or a heckling section following them.

We started off, the sun was out and the wind was blowing (typical of the Cape Breton coast!). As I followed along and took pictures while talking to my fellow walking buddy, I suddenly realized – I was having fun on a golf course. Eeek!

Cabot Cliffs front 9

In fact I was having so much fun that after hole 3, I decided to stay a few more, and then a few more, and suddenly I was in for the whole thing! We got beers, we put on sun screen, and made a day of it.

Photo and Beer Caddies aren’t Required, But they are Fun!

While the guys golfed we took pictures and videos and enjoyed the views. I enjoyed the photography aspect and documenting the whole thing on video. Being a photo and beer caddie was hard work, but most of the time I was laughing my ass off. This wasn’t the stuffy game of golf I was expecting.

Cabot Cliffs Most Famous Holes

We got to the last 3 holes, which are the ‘famous’ holes right along the cliffs, and somehow Pete actually pared hole 16! I personally think it was his great cheering section that had an impact, or maybe it was his beer. Who knows?

Hole 16 Cabot Cliffs
The famous Cliff Hole – Hole 16

I had a whole day outside and likely walked about 5 miles around the whole course. That was the most fun on a golf course I had ever had. I was out in the sun getting exercise and enjoying some of the most spectacular views on all of Cape Breton. Maybe this golf thing isn’t so bad after all.

For all of you out there like me that find yourself on a golf vacation and you don’t even like golf I suggest giving walking the course a try! It’s a nice way to participate and get some outdoor time!

Watch my Instagram story of what it’s like to be a camera and beer caddie on Cabot Cliffs!

Cabot Links Resort

However the other way you can enjoy a golf course when you don’t golf is by simply staying on one! This was one swanky golf villa with incredible views of the other famous golf course – Cabot Links.

When we arrived at the villa they had a welcome bottle of gin with tonic and limes for us. Probably the best welcome gift ever! The villa was modern yet cozy; I wanted to stay a whole week and just cook in that kitchen! We had a big balcony where we could watch people golf or just enjoy the beach view and sunset. You could even walk across the course and end up right on the Inverness beach boardwalk for sunset!

Stay at the Cabot Links Resort on Cape Breton

Book a room or an entire villa! Either way you’ll have spectacular views! 
Cabot Links Resort
Read reviews of Cabot Links Resort on Trip Advisor

Maybe A Golf Vacation Isn’t that Bad After All

Ok – learned an important lesson – maybe I shouldn’t poo poo something I didn’t like 20 years ago. Granted –  I still have no interest in the act of golfing – but I have a new appreciation for walking the course and spending time with friends while I walk! Thanks to the company and the views, I had an incredible time; it didn’t matter if I was on a golf course or a hiking trail!

If you don’t golf, don’t despair, there are many other ways you can enjoy your time while your friends/family who do golf. Walk the course with them, stay on a course – or just simply do your own thing and come back together after. There are plenty of great things to do on Cape Breton, including golf!

How do you get to Cape Breton Nova Scotia to play golf?

It’s easy to get to the Cabot Trail with daily direct service from the NYC area to Halifax! There are several flights a day via Air Canada/United direct to Newark and via Delta direct to LGA. Its just a 2 hr flight and you have US Customs pre-clearance at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport for the return trip! PLUS…you can carry on and carry home fresh lobster from the Halifax airport!


I was a guest of Nova Scotia Tourism however my desire to go back to Cape Breton for a second time was all mine so that I could have more time in this lovely place.  All opinions expressed here are mine.

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