The Cape Breton Highlands Golf Course

4.8529411765 4.9 stars from 5 (5)
  • Holes: 18
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 6592 yards
  • Slope: 141
  • Rating: 73.3
  • Layout

Rentals/Services

Carts: Yes - $17.50 - $22.00
Clubs: Yes
Caddies: No

Practice/Instruction

Pitching/chipping area: Yes
Putting green: Yes
Teaching pro: Yes

Policies

Walking allowed: Yes
Metal spikes allowed: Soft spikes only
Dress code: Proper golf attire is required.
Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard, American Express Welcomed

Tees | Layout | Full Scorecard

Tee Par Length Rating Slope
Blue 72 6592 yards 73.3 141
White 72 6161 yards 70.9 135
Yellow 72 5243 yards 72.6 126

Rating Snapshot

GA Rating Index 4.9 stars from 5
Off-Course Amenities: 3.3 stars from 5
Value: 4.6 stars from 5
Pace of Play: 4.1 stars from 5
Staff Friendliness: 4.3 stars from 5
Course Layout: 5.0 stars from 5
Course Conditions: 3.9 stars from 5
Rating Breakdown 5 Reviews
5 stars:
4
4 stars:
1
3 stars:
0
2 stars:
0
1 stars:
0

recommend this course

5 out of 5 reviews


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Reviewer Photos

Reviews


Overall Rating
Recommended
Handicap
Age
Type of Golfer
Gender

"Still can't par Killiecrankie"


BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
Golf Advisor
Age:  35-44
Gender:  Male
Skill:  Advanced
Plays:  Few times a week
Handicap:  5-9

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 10/04/2017
Previously played Walked Cold weather

Reviewed on

This was my third time making it back to Ingonish, on Cape Breton Island's northeast corner, since 2012. Those of you who have been know what kind of commitment that takes. There are few courses in North America that take as long to get to from Texas than here, but it's worth it every time, and every time I come back, the course has been improved upon by the staff (and this time around, the hotel, too). Golf courses this special within a national park just can't be found in the U.S. Highlands is every bit as good as Stanley Thompson's Jasper Park and Banff Springs efforts in Alberta.

Highlands is a different animal, though. It's a long walk. 8.1 miles according to my Garmin Vivoactive. But it winds so pleasantly from the more exposed peninsula and then deep into the mountains and winds along the Clyburn River. The hole variety and memorability takes no backseat to Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs and in someways exceed them. One of my favorite par 5s anywhere in the world is the 7th, Killiecrankie, despite the fact it has my number.

One of my cardinal rules of golf travel is if you're going to Cabot Links, you can't leave until you come here. If you love golden era architecture and stunning parks scenery, you won't regret it.

One off-course tip: The clubhouse's grill isn't much, but between the Keltic Lodge and the course, the Arduaine has a much more suitable lunch with lobster and ocean views.


Pace of Play: Good

Course Layout: Excellent

Course Conditions: Good

Value for the Money: Excellent

Off-Course Amenities: Average

Course Difficulty:  Somewhat Challenging


I recommend this course



"IMpressed; But not blown away"


BabyLama2014's avatar
Top 500 Contributor
Miami Advisor
Age:  25-34
Gender:  Male
Skill:  Intermediate
Plays:  Few times a week
Handicap:  5-9

4 4.0 stars from 5 Played on 08/08/2016
First time playing Used cart Played 18 holes Excellent weather

Reviewed on

After hearing so much about this course for years, was excited to finally play it.. Nestled in the heart of the Cape Breton Highlands, one must sit back in awe of the layout and what it USED TO BE.. I am aware that the course was only recently sold and is no longer in control of the government. For that I give two thumbs up. The course played firm and fast, but the overall conditions, including the tee boxes were just simply unacceptable for the price ($95 for Cape Breton Residents). New owners just invested 5 million into hotel (Keltic Lodge), and rumour has it that they will invest into the golf course in the near future.

We played from the white tees as recommended by my playing partners. It allowed for us to challenge the par 5's and have tough, yet fair shots into par 3's and 4's. Green were FAST but true, and seeing the ball fly into the mountains after a tee shot and roll for miles on the hilly fairways was a treat.

Looking forward to seeing what is done to the course conditions moving forward and I was told that they want to keep the course as a true links style (which I am all in favour for). In my personal opinion, it would be best for them to give the place a major face lift and contact Cabot Cliffs/Links to package some type of deal, because one can truly see its potential

Final point is that there are many ways to play this course. Forces you to use many and all clubs in your bag if you wish. Looking forward to seeing it again next year


Pace of Play: Good

Course Layout: Excellent

Course Conditions: Average

Staff Friendliness: Average

Value for the Money: Fair

Off-Course Amenities: Average

Course Difficulty:  Somewhat Challenging


I recommend this course


"National Park Golf"


JeffArenson's avatar
Top 50 Contributor
Denver Advisor
Age:  45-54
Gender:  Male
Skill:  Intermediate
Plays:  Once a week
Handicap:  10-14

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 07/16/2016
First time playing Used cart Played 18 holes Excellent weather

Reviewed on

What was a golf course like before the machines? It was like Highlands Links and, quite frankly, was better off for it. This course is a beauty set in a National Park. The fairways and greens have wonderful undulations and mounding. Green speeds are kept so that these enhance a round and don't make it unfair. There are also two blind shots on the course; Highlands Links was built to be played many times and one person I played with called it a course for a lifetime. I would have to agree-I played two rounds, learned from the first to the second and still have many things to discover about this place. If your idea of golf is flat land and cookie cutter holes-then you won't like this. If you want something unique and wonderful, this is your type of course and must visit up in Cape Breton (go here before moving on to Cabot.

As mentioned before, this course is built into a National Park. Holes are almost isolated completely from each other. The most notable feature is the almost links like undulations and mounding in the fairways. Shot making skills of the highest order are required as a flat lie is rare. The course does not have a lot of bunkers, but they are quite strategically placed. The layout is amazing. You are going uphill and down hill; vistas abound, and you are surrounded by hills, woods and ocean. I do regret not walking as I am sure that it would be one of the best ones taken.

The1st and 2nd are a wonderful introduction to what awaits you; they have elevation change and typical undulating green complexes. The 8th and 9th holes are shortish and also have a blind drive or blind approach-love holes like this-there is even a bell to ring on the 8th green for the next group. The stretch from 13-18 is also wonderful. The par 3s have varied length, all play in different directions and are quite great as a set. The par 5s also vary and range from a 4.5 to a 5.5; the 6th is a scenic variation of a "Cape" Hole, the 15th and 16th go downhill and then back up-the 16th is a 4.5 par 5 and the 7th is a beast of an uphill par 5 whose narrowness makes it the most difficult par 5 in recent memory. The 15th is also probably the prettiest hole on a course full of beauty.

My only regret is that the course did not play firm and fast. The course underwent renovations and has rebounded from horrible conditioning so I can see why it is not set up to play less than lush. It is still recovering and is not August like, but it is above average. Nobody I played with even knew of the issues from years ago.

Off the course: There is a putting green and practice putting green, but no driving range. The staff is very friendly and accommodating. The Keltic Lodge is upscale and lives up to its reputation. Just down the road, there is hiking and whale watching tours and plenty to do for the non-golfing hours or non-golfer while you are on the course.

The bottom line is that if you are up in Cape Breton to see Cabot, you should take the detour and play here. It is different than the links of Cabot, but variety is the spice of life and this is a treat.


Pace of Play: Excellent

Course Layout: Excellent

Course Conditions: Good

Staff Friendliness: Excellent

Value for the Money: Excellent

Off-Course Amenities: Good

Course Difficulty:  Somewhat Challenging


I recommend this course


"Home of My Heart, Cape Breton"


CBHighlands's avatar
Age:  45-54
Gender:  Female
Skill:  Advanced
Plays:  Few times a week
Handicap:  10-14

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 08/06/2015
Previously played Played with a group Walked Played 18 holes Excellent weather

Reviewed on

Full disclosure. This is my home course. It is the course where I learned to play golf as a junior. It is the course I have played more than any other on the planet. It is the course to which I compare all other courses...which is why, if you can, you must play here at least once in your lifetime. Preferably twice.

It's 18 holes of exquisite design and wondrous scenery. No hole is like another. You will never have the impression that you've played "this" hole before. Each is a self-contained playground of golfing bliss, the sometimes-diabolical lies (you might catch a flat one on #11) making you work for a good score.

Walk it if you can but carts now make it possible for many, including my now 100-year-old grandfather, to keep on playing it. And to quote him, he who has played the course every year since it first opened in 1939, "I could never skip a hole. I love them all too much." You will, too.


Pace of Play: Good

Course Conditions: Good

Staff Friendliness: Excellent

Value for the Money: Excellent

Quality of food & beverage: Good

Off-Course Amenities: Good

Course Difficulty:  Somewhat Challenging


I recommend this course



"A 'walk in the park' unlike any other"


BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
Golf Advisor
Age:  25-34
Gender:  Male
Skill:  Advanced
Plays:  Few times a week
Handicap:  5-9

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 07/29/2014
Previously played Played with a group Walked Played 18 holes Good weather

Reviewed on

Top 100 panels often refer to a ratings category called the "walk in the park test." I would say that Cape Breton Highlands Links, located in a National Park, is the standard to which all courses should be measured in this regard.

The course, designed by the renowned Golden Era architect Stanley Thompson, was designed in the 1930s as an expedition of sorts, traversing through woods and on coastal land overlooking the ocean. There are long walks between many greens and tees (uncommon for the time period), but these walks are all lovely, whether they go along a river bed, through woods or past the local church.

That isn't to say what's happening between tee and green isn't first-class, because it is. One's golf travels aren't complete until they've experienced a Stanley Thompson design. they are something else, full of quirks and strategy. There is simply no dull moment from the time you reach the practice putting green to the thrilling finishing holes.

Yes, a lot of folks tend to take a golf cart rather than make the 11km expedition, but remember your ancestors walked this gem and so can you. You'll cherish the loop.


Pace of Play: Good

Course Conditions: Good

Staff Friendliness: Excellent

Value for the Money: Excellent

Quality of food & beverage: Good

Off-Course Amenities: Good

Course Difficulty:  Somewhat Challenging


I recommend this course




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