Review: Cabot Cape Breton (The Nest)

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  • Inverness, Nova Scotia
  • Resort — Daily Fee
  • Rod Whitman and Dave Axland (2020)

Having a short course is akin to a ’90s Hip-Hop album and their skits: you gotta have it. And so, Cabot Cape Breton expanded with a 10 hole short course in 2020 from Cabot Links architect Rod Whitman (alongside future partner Dave Axland, with Keith Cutten taking on the project as lead shaper).

First and foremost, the routing is fairly playful on a high plateau above Cabot Cliffs. On the initial four, the golfer works their way back and forth, slowly up the hill before crossing over to the 5th. From there, you loop back around to the 4th green where the 10th tee awaits the final shot straight downhill.

Also noteworthy, it is an attractive golf course, sitting high above Cabot Cliffs. Some excellent views over the #1 golf course in Canada, plus, the ocean!

The course starts off with a nice, gentle par 3 at 95 yards. There is some severe tilt towards that pin in the back half of the green, and anything left centre should funnel down.

At the 2nd, a slightly longer and different look greets players. At 128 yards, the golfer does not see much of the surface, but there is a redan-ish feature here where it kicks balls to the left.

The third is an absolutely insane golf hole. 118 yards, every player should have a shorter club in that most par 3’s, yet the green is so exacting that you feel the pressure. On the opening two, a soft introduction to the golf course; on the third, the “firm handshake” awaits.

You can see the green perched high above the surroundings, with only the short left really sitting on-grade. Anything short, short right, or long is no good, and honestly brings 5 into play.

The fourth is our first look at The Nest’s night golf. As opposed to Bandon Dunes or The Cradle, The Nest has lights around the golf course that allows golfers to play into the night. A cool feature, and an easy way to differentiate themselves from contemporaries. From here on out, the photos are obviously not as good as they were taken in the dark! Anyways, the 4th is 109 yards to a double green with the 9th. There are a ton of little pockets of this green that would make for some awesome pin locations. Also, worth mentioning: the little hillock in the front disguises the front of the green and really messes with depth perception.

I hardly doubt Rod Whitman would approve of a hole being classified as a “signature hole,” but if there will be one at The Nest, it is the par 3, 5th over water. Still a wedge for long players at 142 yards, menacing bunkers await short of the green, providing the sharpest visual yet. With a middle left flag, we did not get to see the kicker slope short right, but the flexibility in how you would play this hole depending on the pin location is a massive plus in my mind.

Part of the charm of The Nest is the navigation of different landscapes in such a small property. In the lower portion of the property, an expansive, links-like feel, but up top, a wetland (5th) turns into a forested stretch, starting at the 6th. To this point, the 6th is the longest par 3 on the course at 146 yards.

This is likely the worst photo I took that night, but you can see the 6th in the left side of the photo below.

I really liked the 98 yard par 3, 7th. A sneaky interesting shot even with a wedge, the greens were so firm at The Nest that you would have land the ball short, bringing in some pretty interesting contours to affect the ball. If you went long, three bunkers await. This is an A+ hole.

I am a little upset I did not take a photo of the par 3, 8th. My favourite hole on the course at 104 yards, a ridge short of the green hides the green surface, minus a small view of the flagstick. In retrospect, it reminds me of the approach at the 13th at Cape Breton Highlands Links, where the golfer plays over the ridge. Truthfully, the best play is to play it out right and have it kick down. You can see the hole below, centrefold.

No tee shot photo of the 9th unfortunately, either from the camera or the drone. At this point, I was far more interested in our three versus two match and obsessed over not playing golf with shoes (a really interesting feeling!). At 132 yards, this is an attractive downhill approach. What I did take a photo of, however, is the menacing green if you miss short right. Yikes!

Coming home is an oddly long par 3 that is potentially too long for the golf courser. Until this point, the longest hole is 146 yards. The 10th, however, is 232 yards (!?). Granted, it does play quite downhill, and the play is to land it short, but my point stands.

As seen in the plan above, that bunker short actually sits left side of the green, although from the teeing ground, it functions more as a centreline bunker. There are almost Lion’s Mouth features around the 10th, though not quite authentic enough to call it that.

Would I go back to The Nest? Absolutely. Distinctive in its vibe, especially against the bigger golf courses at the resort, The Nest is notably low-key. Music? Sure. Drinks? You bet. Shoes? Optional. At The Nest, it is all about the fun and the vibe. To me, that is the perfect par 3 course. It becomes difficult to compare and contrast to Bandon Preserve or The Cradle. They all achieve separate goals, yet all serve their respective resorts in the functional way they are intended to. My only advice: make sure you save time for The Nest, and even better if it is during night golf season.


  • Andrew Harvie

    Based in Toronto, but having lived in Alberta, British Columbia, Montana, Arizona, and Texas, I have been lucky enough to see over 400 golf courses and counting!

1 thought on “Review: Cabot Cape Breton (The Nest)

  1. I know it is Cabot, but pricy for a par 3 at almost $100. Think they would do better at $50 and get more people to play and likely spend more time looking around and maybe play Cliffs or spend money in the restaurants or pro shop there.

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