Ben Cowan-Dewar’s Love of the Land
Margaret Mitchell, the Atlanta-born author of “Gone With The Wind,’’ is credited with saying that “land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything.’’
Ben Cowan-Dewar knows about land. The visionary CEO and co-founder of Cabot estimates he sees up to 80 different pieces of land annually, each in search of a site for the next great golf course.
“The places either speak to me or they don’t.’’
More than 20 years ago, 1,200 acres of North Central Florida (near Brooksville) – then known as World Woods Golf Club – screamed at Cowan-Dewar. The golf club itself, which featured a pair of Tom Fazio-designed courses, had started to suffer from neglect. But the land, with its sandy soil, elevation changes, rolling terrain, and seemingly ageless oak trees, spoke volumes to the young Canadian.
Skip ahead to early 2024. Cowan-Dewar, whose Cabot properties in Nova Scotia (Cabot Cap Breton) and Saint Lucia have helped revolutionize the high-end golf resort industry, stood on that same 1,200 acres he saw 20 years ago to celebrate the opening of Cabot Citrus Farms, its ruggedly striking Karoo course (7,562 yards) designed by Kyle Franz, and the Mike Nuzzo-designed Squeeze (nine holes) and Wedge (10 holes) courses. The Roost (7,200 yards), co-designed by Nuzzo and Franz with Ran Morrissett, is scheduled to open in April.
“This property has an absolutely amazing feel,’’ Cowan-Dewar said. “It’s a peaceful place – very bucolic.’’
The Karoo Course
That peacefulness is occasionally broken with the sounds of hammers and drills as construction continues on the two- and four-bedroom cottages comprising Cabot Citrus Farms’ Main Street. But there is no mistaking that Cowan-Dewar’s vision for Citrus Farms is crystal clear.
Phase 1 of the real estate at Cabot Citrus Farms is nearly sold out. The next phase will consist of single-family homes and additional two- and four-bedroom cottages. The property will eventually include a sporting club, dining hall, golf clubhouse with a restaurant and bar, and other food and beverage outlets.
It all adds to a game-changing property among Florida and Southeast golf resorts. But at the end of the day, it all goes back to the land – wherever that might be.
“We are always on the lookout for greatness,’’ Cowan-Dewar said. “You really try to narrow the (prospects) list so you don’t spend too much time traveling. But when there is something special, you always want to take a look at it.’’
How long does it take him to know a property is worth pursuing?
“About 15 minutes. It’s much easier now with things like Google Earth and topographic maps. So you kind of get a sense before you go. But I usually know it right away.’’
Put Cabot Citrus Farms in that “know it right away’’ group.
“This feels different from other places I’ve seen in Florida,’’ Cowan-Dewar said. “And we’ve had a very warm welcome. We really want to be part of the tourism fabric of the state and this region.
“With its proximity to Tampa and Orlando, we will obviously see folks introduced to the Cabot brand for the first time. So, we want it (Citrus Farms) to be what we want all of our places to be – warm and welcoming. Make our guests feel like they have come home, hopefully, play some great golf and provide some great memories.’’
Photos Courtesy of Cabot Citrus Farms