Northumberland Links Moves Up The Rankings, With More Enhancements On The Way

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Northumberland Links Golf Course on Nova Scotia’s North Shore has once again raised its profile, not only on the provincial golf scene, but also nationally.

The golf course has notably hosted numerous prestigious provincial championships over the years, while also being known for its playability and challenge for daily visitors. Both of these aspects are enhanced by the steady breeze—sometimes stiff, sometimes soft—off the bordering Northumberland strait to the north, coming in from the Atlantic Ocean. The layout, recently ranked as the 4th best public golf course in Nova Scotia and 40th in the country by Beyond The Contour, places it among rarefied company, only ranking behind Cabot Cliffs, Cabot Links, and Cape Breton Highlands Links. The Cliffs came in at 1st nationally, while Links and Highlands Links ranked 3rd and 4th, respectively.

11th hole, Northumberland Links

The noteworthy rankings, put together by a panel of golf industry expects, are a testament to the dedication and work of the staff and crew at Northumberland, says course superintendent John Mills, a fixture at the club for nearly 35 years. The course has quietly built on its reputation as being one of the best courses in the Atlantic region since it opened in 1964 as a nine-hole layout. In 1988, Northumberland expanded to eighteen holes from architect Bill Robinson, who also renovated the original nine holes. His philosophy of letting the land dictate the layout was in a similar view as Stanley Thompson, one of Canada’s great architect. The views of the ocean and close proximity to the water gives the course its links-like flavour are an integral part of the outward nine, but in 2022, the nines were reversed and now offer golfers an everlasting memory of the course’s ocean setting.

A familiar focal point of many course designs is a signature hole, and not surprisingly, that signature hole is a real attention grabber. Nicknamed “Lobster Pot,” the par 3, 13th runs parallel to the ocean and is open to all the torment the sea can throw at you. It is both beautiful and brawny, and jutting out into the strait produces a wonderful one-shot hole. Another hole that caught the attentions of Beyond The Contour raters is the long 7th. Flanked by a creek up the entire left-hand side, this four shot hole works its way back to the Strait and Prince Edward Island in the distance, often visible on clear days across the large body of water.

Alongside the rolling fairways and elevation changes of the course, the greens at Northumberland mirror the micro and macro contours of the fairways, with a diverse set full of variety across eighteen holes. The high-quality bent grass greens make for consistent speeds throughout, and sloping, undulating greens test even the best putters. All of these traits have created 18 great holes of golf, each presenting its unique shot challenges in itself.

Even with its recent accolades, Mills believes the course can climb even further up the rankings. Mother Nature may have presented the opportunity to capitalize on, with Hurricane Fiona making landfall in September 2022. It left all the holes unscathed, but it knocked down over 60 acres of forest that bordered the fairways in the upper portion of the property away from the Strait. The club saw the opportunity to enhance the the course by expanding on its links characteristics, implementing rescue and revealing the seaside views on all eighteen holes. This summer golfers will not only experience more spectacular views of the ocean as they are greeted with a more open concept course, but they will also experience the beginning of an exciting new era for Northumberland Links.

Editor’s Note: While superintendent John Mills might credit the dedication of the staff who work at Northumberland Links, factors such as service, price, staff, or similar categories do not play a factor in Beyond The Contour rankings, which focus on the golf course and the golf course only. For more information on the ranking criteria, click here.


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