Atlantic Canada
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Travels with Tom

Fox Harb’r gives golf the spa treatment—and lots more.

Driving through the fall foliage to Fox Harb’r, writer Tom Peters talked about skiing and golf. He regaled me with tales of trips to China to cover the shipping trade, and also to play golf. The Chinese plan decades out, he told me, converting an offshore island to a giant container port, for example.

Fox Harb’r is also a long-term investment. Overlooking the Northumberland Strait in Wallace, Nova Scotia, it bills itself as a golf resort and spa. That is an understatement. There is also a marina with boat charters, tennis, kayaking, fly fishing, sport shooting, meeting facilities, and residences for sale at $700,000 and up. And a golf academy planned for 2011. Did I mention the airport and affiliated aviation company?

Head pro Elliott Isenor shows us around the clubhouse: lots of dark wood, marble, art, and windows with panoramic views. He says owner Ron Joyce is in Florida visiting his friend Wayne Huizenga, who built Waste Management, Blockbuster video, a car retail empire, and owns various sports teams. Joyce gets ideas for Fox Harb’r from the golf courses owned by his friends, says Elliott, and he prefers not to have tee times. This all suits Tom, who has played all over—and prefers not to keep score.

The current marketing is focusing on Ontario, says Elliott, though the airport means a certain clientele can fly in from anywhere. The new GM is a whiz, he says. Expect the place to get busier.

He tells us how he watched Tiger Woods set the course record of 63 at a Nike event, while enjoying the local seafood the chef had set up on some of the holes. Former US presidents have come here for events—and golf. You can tell Elliott likes his job.

The next few hours are a blur. We have sun, cloud, wind, and no wind, as we enjoy links and parkland holes. Some of the views of the water–you just stop and stare. We have a great walk and hit a few good shots. The course is designed so the average hacker and the skilled pro can both face a challenge.

Afterwards we drop by the spa. Besides massage and facials, there are gym facilities and a pool with windows looking out at the sky.

Mike Clarke takes us on a tour of the shooting area. The lodge is adorned with art, mounted geese flying across the ceiling, Western sculptures by Remington, pool tables and poker tables. (My late father Leif would have loved this. He was good at sports, but a genius at games.) Skeet shooting and sporting clays are complemented by the real thing: pheasant and Hungarian partridge. “Women do better than men as new shooters,” Mike tells us.

Mike’s life story is sort of a dream. He grew up bird hunting in New Brunswick. Now he is a golf pro and shooting guide, as well as high-level ski instructor. He likes people and you can tell he loves dogs. He explains how bird hunting requires lots of diverse habitat; in other words, it is good for the planet. When he talks about “the joy people get from their experiences here” his eyes light up. He appreciates Ron Joyce’s love of the outdoors, and allows “He’s a good shot for a lefty.”

Mike is concerned the new generation is hooked on technology and doesn’t appreciate nature. “They are missing out on their surroundings,” he says. Rural Atlantic Canada is a great place, he says. “You can see deer anywhere.”

Tom understands that. On the drive home he tells me about growing up on a farm in the country. The leaves are dull yellow with a splash of red. He will find ways to play golf this winter—and ski.

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