18 JAN 2017: What’s the greatest golf course in the world? In my opinion, golf has no single highest temple. Certainly a number of courses come to mind when creating bucket lists, but each swinger steps up to the first tee with his or her own personal criteria. I adore the ancient links of the British Isles. But tempt me with a tropical seaside course or the mountain marvels of the Canadian Rockies and I’ll be packing my clubs. Here are some of my favourites.

Cabot Cliffs

After playing a sneak preview round at Cabot Cliffs last summer I vowed that if Cape Breton’s newest seaside sensation wasn’t ranked the number one course in Canada, if not North America, I’d eat my putter. Fortunately, I was right! Golf Digest named it “Best New Course in America” for 2015 and third in its list of America’s 100 Greatest. This is remarkable considering that Cabot Cliffs didn’t officially open to the public until June 2016.

Fairways tumble and twist down from a forested glade high above the sea. They meander up and over dunes, cross meadows and ravines and skirt ragged cliffs. There’s an empathetic harmony between the design by Coore & Crenshaw and the rollicking terrain—an ebb and flow with endless sea views. There’s a rhyme, a reason and a natural rhythm to this masterpiece.

Most photographed are the green at 16 and the tees at 17, both located on jagged, windswept promontory. Number 17 is a cliff-hanging drivable par-four. Birdie this one and you’ll be on cloud nine.

Finish your day by tucking into some fabulous seafood in the Panorama restaurant, watching the sun slide into the St. Lawrence while the last golfers sink their putts on number 18. The folks at Cabot deliver golf as it was meant to be played and life as it was meant to be lived. www.cabotlinks.com

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Probably nowhere else in this country is the classic Hollywood image of the great Canadian west better portrayed than at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. You can almost picture a Mountie emerging from the forest with a distressed damsel in his arms.

Designed by Canada’s foremost architect, the late Stanley Thompson, the Jasper course has been ranked number one in Canada by SCORE Golf magazine.

Thompson’s wit and genius shine throughout. He named the par-three 9th Cleopatra because of its voluptuous mounds. Every fairway is aligned to frame the Rocky Mountain setting. On the 11th, the shapes of the bunkers mirror the outlines traced by the snow on the distant peaks of Pyramid Mountain.

When you combine scenery that Teddy Roosevelt remarked, “would bankrupt the English language” with Thompson’s brilliance, it’s tough to top the Jasper experience. www.fairmont.com


Muskoka Bay Club

Though only minutes from the town of Gravenhurst, a round at the Muskoka Bay Club is a romp in the wilderness with fairways winding through mature forests and across majestic wetlands and beaver ponds that have been incorporated and preserved in the layout.

Designer Doug Carrick elevated many of the five tee decks to give golfers extraordinary fairway views and eliminate blind shots.

The phenomenal number nine requires a high-flying tee shot from a precipice over wetlands to an uphill and increasingly narrowing fairway squeezed on both sides by granite outcroppings. Swing thought: thread the needle!

Imagine golf in a Group of Seven painting. www.muskokabay.com


Nefyn & District Golf Club

Playing Nefyn was probably my most giddying golf experience. Dubbed the “Pebble Beach of Wales,” Nefyn is a twenty-six-hole track with ten outward fairways and two separate inward eights called the Old and the New.

For sheer cliff-hanging drama, I recommend the Old that clings to the top of a narrow peninsula. One golf writer remarked that it was “like playing on the deck of an aircraft carrier.”

Perhaps no other hole in the world confronts the golfer with the distractions of number twelve with its blind drive, blind second shot, public thoroughfare populated by hikers and a crater-sized pit. After draining your putt on number fifteen, follow a footpath down to the Ty Coch Inn, located on the beach at Porthdinllaen, for a quick pint. It’s a Nefyn tradition. www.nefyn-golf-club.co.uk


Quivira

Quivira reigns as the most spectacular new public course in Los Cabos, Mexico. I was there when Jack Nicklaus officially opening his epic layout in December 2014.

Quivira has more oceanfront exposure than any other course in Los Cabos. From December to March you are likely to spot whales leaping in the wild blue yonder.

Your “all-inclusive” golf day at starts with a complimentary shuttle service to the club. Warm up on the range where full array of beverages and snacks are offered. I like to loosen my swing with a Bloody Maria.

After the first four holes, experience the “greatest drive in golf” as you manoeuvre your cart to the first comfort station perched 200 feet above the ocean. Enjoy more snacks and drinks.

You’ll need fortification in order to tackle the 5th hole. The fairway, slanted below a shouldering dune on the right, traces the edge of sheer granite cliffs to the left as it tumbles downhill to a transition zone before dropping to the green. Long hitters can attempt to drive it, but it’s adios if you miss the cliff-hanging green.

The Oasis halfway house offers inventive Baja cuisine and a deluxe tequila bar. Indulge, it’s all part of your green fee.

When asked to predict how Quivira will impact his legacy, Nicklaus said, “I think some people will say it’s the most spectacular and best golf course they have ever seen and others will say, ‘You have got to be kidding.’ I don’t think there will be a lot of middle ground.” If you look at the game of golf as having a fun experience, and playing in an exciting and beautiful place, you will absolutely love it.”

I can’t argue with you Jack.

To play Quivira you must be a resident or guest of one four Pueblo Bonito Oceanfront Resorts and Spas in Los Cabos. www.quiviragolfclub.com

 

 

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Anita Draycott

Quite aside from being an award winning writer, whose travel articles and photography regularly appear in golf and lifestyle publications and websites, Anita Draycott is a self confessed golf fanatic, who has chased dimpled white balls over five continents.  

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