The Links at Crowbush Cove ****
Of all the courses to open in the region in recent years, none is more responsible for the surge in interest in Atlantic Canada golf than Crowbush Cove. The Thomas McBroom design is renowned for a stretch of holes that brush against giant dunes and the Northumberland Strait. The course teases players with a glimpse of the ocean at the close of the front nine, while the back nine runs into the dunes. Some sensitive environmental areas forced McBroom to make the occasional design concession—notably the awkward carry over wetlands on the par-five eleventh—but a round at Crowbush Cove is still a grand golf experience.
Route 350, Lakeside, Prince Edward Island; 800-235-8909, golflinkspei.com. Yardage: 6,903. Par: 72. Slope: 148. Architect: Thomas McBroom, 1994. Greens Fees: $72$85.
The Algonquin Golf Course ***1/2
Donald Ross, as legend has it, visited the site of the Algonquin so briefly that the course was designed on the back of a napkin. The resulting layout was—no surprise—one of the great Scot's minor works, leaving Thomas McBroom plenty of room for improvement during his renovation in 2000. McBroom's routing retains the resort flavor—it's walkable, with wide, forgiving fairways—but makes better use of its seaside location. The best holes, including the par-three twelfth, take in the ocean. Playing 154 yards downhill to a windswept green perched by the sea, the twelfth is an Atlantic version of the seventh at Pebble Beach. 465 Brandy Cove Road, St. Andrews, New Brunswick; 506-529-8165, algonquingolf.com Yardage: 6,908. Par: 72. Slope: 134. Architect: Thomas McBroom, 2000. Greens Fee: $89.
Bell Bay Golf Club ***1/2
The newest layout in Cape Breton, Bell Bay is about an hour's drive south of Highlands Links, and it's the perfect warm-up for the main event. This is partly due to its terrific fifteen-acre practice facility, one of the best in Canada (and Highlands Links doesn't have one at all), as well as for the course itself: a challenging, modern affair with wide fairways giving way to tricky, undulating greens. There are few courses in Canada that can rival Bell Bay's stretch from the long par-four fifteenth through to the finale, a 566-yard par five overlooking the glittering Bras d'Or Lake. 761 Highway 205, Baddeck, Nova Scotia; 800-565-3077, bellbay.ca. Yardage: 7,037. Par: 72. Slope: 137. Architect: Thomas McBroom, 1997. Greens Fees: $58$71.
Glen Arbour Golf Course ***1/2
Located twenty minutes from Halifax airport, Glen Arbour is an upscale public facility created by Montreal architect Graham Cooke. The course leads golfers into an isolated world of hardwoods and tranquil lakes. The fourteenth, a par five with Bottle Lake threatening the entire left side of the fairway, and the long par-three seventeenth, with its small green perched amid wetlands, are standouts on a course with multiple remarkable holes.
40 Clubhouse Lane, Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia; 877-835-4653, glenarbour.com. Yardage: 6,800. Par: 72. Slope: 138. Architect: Graham Cooke, 1999. Greens Fees: $85$108.
Best of the Rest
For a full tour of Cape Breton Island, also check out Dundee Golf Course (800-565-5660) and Le Portage Golf Club (888-618-5558). Slightly off the beaten path in Nova Scotia is Stanley Thompson's Digby Pines Golf Course (800-667-4637), which recently received a face-lift from Graham Cooke. Cooke was also the force behind the award-winning Claws Course at Kingswood Park (800-423-5969) in Fredericton, New Brunswick.While it's overshadowed by neighboring Fox Harb'r, Northumberland Links (902-243-2808) has several strong seaside holes and can be played at a fraction of the cost. Finally, if you're looking to extend your trip farther afield, Doug Carrick's Humber Valley (709-686-8100) up in Newfoundland is part of a luxurious new year-round resort.