Cape Breton Highlands - No. 7
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Cape Breton Highlands - No. 7
The par-5 7th is a double-dogleg, uphill hole named "Killiecrankie." Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Images
Cape Breton Highlands - No. 3
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Cape Breton Highlands - No. 3
The scenic, downhill par-3 3rd hole. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands LInks - No. 16 green
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Highlands LInks - No. 16 green
The view from the elevated green of the par-5 16th hole has a great view backwards. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links - No. 18
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Highlands Links - No. 18
The 18th hole is a straightaway par 4 at Highlands Links. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Stanley Thompson statue at Highlands Links
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Stanley Thompson statue at Highlands Links
A statue of Stanley Thompson sits by the first tee at Highlands Links. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links - No. 8
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Highlands Links - No. 8
A view from the 8th tee at Highlands Links. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links - No. 2
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Highlands Links - No. 2
The 2nd hole is a downhill, dogleg left par 4. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links - No. 4
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Highlands Links - No. 4
The 4th hole is a short par 4 with an elevated, volcano green. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links - Clyburn River
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Highlands Links - Clyburn River
The 8-mile walk at Highlands Links includes a stroll along the Clyburn River between the 12th and 13th holes. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links -No. 9
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Highlands Links -No. 9
The 9th hole is a short par 4 that is a blind tee shot over a crest, but is drivable with a downslope that heads to the green. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links - No. 9 green
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Highlands Links - No. 9 green
A view of the 9th green at Highlands Links. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links - No. 10
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Highlands Links - No. 10
The 10th hole is a short, downhill par 3. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links - No. 15
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Highlands Links - No. 15
Establish an understanding of "ready golf" with your group on the first tee. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links - No. 16
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Highlands Links - No. 16
The par-5 16th hole is short but uphill the whole way to a small green set into the side of a slope. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links - No. 17
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Highlands Links - No. 17
The 17th hole is a moderate-length, downhill par 3. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Highlands Links - national park
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Highlands Links - national park
There is plenty of mountain scenery at Highlands Links, set in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor

Photos of Highlands Links in Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Stanley Thompson's Cape Breton Highlands (also commonly called "Highlands Links" on Cape Breton Island is one of a handful of works by the famous golden era architects set in one of Canada's national parks. Like Jasper Park Lodge and Banff Springs, Highlands Links is one of the country's most memorable rounds even if it is remote, located on the island's northeast corner.

Thompson built Highlands Links in 1938 with the help of associate Geoff Cornish as part of efforts to bring a new resort, The Keltic Lodge, to this part of the island (unlike Jasper and Banff, no railway leads to this remote spot of the island). The routing, originally referred to as the "Mountains and Oceans" course, begins on a narrow strip of more exposed ground high above the ocean before heading down and deep into mountains and dense woodlands. One really unique aspect (among very many) is each side has back-to-back par 5s. On the front, the 6th hole ("Mucklemouth meg") is a more reachable, risk-reward hole followed by what is by many measures one of the more epic three-shotters in the north: Killiecrankie is a narrow, uphill double-dogleg 570 yards long with big mounds in the fairway. The green isn't flat, either.

On the back nine, the par-5 15th hole heads downhill towards the ocean, while the 16th then trudges back uphill along a ripping fairway to a small green tucked into a slope.

Recent improvements to the course include tree-clearing projects to improve views, playability and the health of the golf course. Also, a bank was raised along the Clyburn River to mitigate flood damage to the low-lying holes Nos. 11 and 12.

Cape Breton Highlands is located about three hours from Cabot Links and the two are connected by the spectacular Cabot Trail scenic drive, which winds through the mountains before heading out to the coastline and heading south. Golf North has invested millions into the Keltic Lodge resort property in recent years and in addition to the main hotel there are cabins and other larger options for golf groups.


Staff course review of Highlands Links: Brandon Tucker


Video: Tour Cape Breton

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.
Related Links
From Vancouver Island to Newfoundland, Canada's scenery is spectacular. And, thankfully, if you're into golf, that jaw-dropping scenery is on display on many of the Great White North's most notable courses.
Canadian Golden Era architect Stanley Thompson designed Whirlpool Golf Course, one of the most convenient plays near the famous Niagara Falls on the Canada side. Tour the course here.
Cabot Cliffs, the follow-up to Cabot Links on Cape Breton Island, is one of Canada's most spectacular courses. Tour the Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw designed course here.
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Photos of Highlands Links in Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Highlands National Park
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