INVERNESS: Three courses on GOLF’s 2021-22 ranking of the Top 100 Courses You Can Play are located in Cape Breton and two of them also just so happen to be ranked the top two courses in Canada.
Cabot Cliffs took the honours for GOLF.com’s top public course in Canada while ranking fourth overall in the world, its sister course, which is only 4.4 kilometres away Cabot Links was Canada’s second best course and ranked 12 globally.
Another recent accolade Cabot Golf received was Golf Digest’s Editor’s Choice for the Best Golf Resort in Canada.
Rounding out the local courses, Cape Breton Highland Links in Ingonish Beach ranked 28 on GOLF’s list.
Cabot Cape Breton General Manager Andrew Alkenbrack said when they first started out they were just hoping people would come to Inverness to play golf.
“To be consistently reminded of the efforts that have gone into this and what the team’s been able to achieve has been pretty sweet, I’m not going to lie,” Alkenbrack told The Reporter. “It’s somewhat humbling too, there’s a lot of other great spots in the country, and throughout the globe and to just be featured on that list is pretty great.”
And to have placed as prominently as they did, he indicated it makes everything worthwhile.
“As an operator, someone who’s tasked with guest experience, as sweet as those accolades are, they also make you kind of nervous because they don’t do anything to register expectations,” Alkenbrack said. “We take a little bit of time to celebrate, but at the same time you’re only as good as the experience people are having on that day. “
Alkenbrack said even though they’re ranked in the top two spots, courses that ranked below them will be pushing for the top spot. Taking this into consideration, Cabot Cape Breton has a collective list on ways to improve their courses.
As for a golfing season this summer, Alkenbrack said the availability of a vaccines gives them hope.
“This time last year, all of us, myself included, we thought we’d be open in two weeks, we’d be open in two weeks, we’d be open in two weeks,” he said. “And before you know it, the whole season goes by and you don’t see anybody from the rest of Canada or the U.S.”
Alkenbrack suggested things are a bit more measurable this year as they were trying to figure things out last year.
An opening date hasn’t been set yet as it is conditional on people being able to freely travel throughout the province, but with the province easing restrictions, Alkenbrack said they should be on track to open by last year’s June 19 date.
“There’s always been optimism, even last year at this time you’re optimistic that these things are going to happen,” Alkenbrack said. “But there’s actually some measurable there this time that you can kind of better structure your season around.”
On April 19, it was announced that Cabot Links, would be able to access lower-cost financing through the tourism sector financing assistance program. Cabot can access up to $14.25 million for their golf courses and resort.
Overall about 85 per cent of Cabot’s market comes from outside Atlantic Canada and despite the local support from Atlantic Canadians, he said eventually you start to run out of people.
“Obviously with that part of our market not being able to make it here, it certainly had a significant impact on the business,” Alkenbrack added. “And will continue to until we’re able to see those people.”