The Ottawa Valley’s Eclectic 18
Piggybacking off of Andrew’s eclectic 18 for the G.T.A, I hereby present my own choices from the Ottawa area, a much-less sterling selection of holes from which to choose than my southern contemporary. Like him, I kept the holes as they are ordered (i.e. the 1st hole in my 18 had to be a 1st hole from whence it came, the 2nd a 2nd, etc), and I limited myself to one hole per course, a set of limitations that, I must confess, proved irksome and difficult after a while, culminating in a few fairly average choices (namely the 14th and 17th) among the eighteen.
#1 — Equinelle — 422 yards, par 4
The opener at this highly popular (for some reason that eludes me) Kemptville-area Darrell Huxham design begins with an intimidating, bite-off-as-much-as-you-can-chew tee shot over a water hazard and culminates with a two-tiered green featuring a bit of a false front. Unfortunately, the architectural interest for the day pretty much ends here, but this is an excellent hole—in truth, I’d just about rather play this hole eighteen times over than the seventeen tedious ones that follow it.
#2 — Camelot — 444 yards, par 4
This brutish 460 yard par 4 is among the better holes not just in Ottawa but in all of Canada. Strategic, picturesque, and extremely difficult, this very well might be the best hole that Thomas McBroom has built so far in his three-decade plus career. (The 6th at Tobiano and the 17th at Memphremagog are others that immediately came to mind.)
#3 — Ottawa Hunt (Gold) — 436 yards, par 4
No one hole at the Hunt better showcases the wonderfully rolling, sand-based topography over which the course was routed. I can’t quite recall how it looked prior to Dr. Hurdzan’s renovation (i.e. in its McBroom iteration), but I really like the dancing look of the fairway bunkers and the green complex, particularly its slim back tongue, which makes for some interesting second shots when the hole is cut there.
#4 — Carleton Golf & Yacht — 427 yards, par 4
This long par 4 features a tough tee shot that must avoid the out-of-bounds and barn to the left and the row of the trees to the right of the narrow, leftward-turning fairway. For the majority of players, this will be the first driver swing of the day (quite literally, as the range is irons only and the first three holes are claustrophobically narrow) and it is a nerve-racking one, indeed.
#5 — White Sands — 163 yards, par 3
A cool, mid-length par 3 featuring a clover leaf green set beyond a bunker that visually impairs the tee shot. Thankfully, green-speeds here are usually kept quite slow, for the back portion of this surface is pitched insanely inwards and, thus, would be essentially unplayable at anything above 7 or 8 on the stimp-meter. One of the better holes at this rather underrated par 3 course in the east-end of the city.
#6 — Rockland (South/East) — 522 yards, par 5
A wild ride from start to finish, this severely up and side-hill par 5 culminates with one of the more distinctive greens you’ll play—the best way I can describe it would be a C-shaped half-pipe with a knob short and right. The green surface is hardly functional and usually in bad shape due to the water that pools at the bottom of the trough, but it’s the kind of unique thing we jive with here at BTC.
#7 — Hawkesbury — 591 yards, par 5
A sweeping par 5 around a creek that guards the inside of the fairway, with some tree-clearing along the bank this could be among the better and most visually appealing par 5s in the province. The green is especially intense and interesting, featuring three tiers and a drooping tree that closely guards its right edge, a feature that must be considered when planning one’s layup.
#8 — Club de Golf Nation — 185 yards, par 3
A truly excellent, long par 3, from one ridge, where the tee box sits, over a sunken creek, to a rather large and low-lying green set upon another ridge. Although surrounded mostly by dross, this scenic par 3, however, could fit in seamlessly on most any golf course in Canada.
#9 — Eagle Creek — 441 yards, par 4
Among the best from a largely dreadful lot of holes at this Ken Venturi design in Dunrobin – one of the rare legitimate Doak 0s in Canada and a mainstay of ScoreGolf‘s Top 100 list for decades. Water guards the entire right side of the fairway and the large green features some interesting internal movement, punctuated by the back half which falls away.
Out: 3,631 yards, par 36
#10 — Royal Ottawa — 323 yards, par 4
An ultra cool, old school golf hole featuring a miniature (and I mean miniature) green that seems taken straight from Brookline. Options galore greets the golfer as he stands on the tee of the 310 yard par 4: lay up way back; fly the fairway bunker; or take a lash at the green.
#11 — Brockville — 278 yards, par 4
A stock solid, sidehill Stanley Thompson par 4, culminating in an intense green that matches the landscape beautifully.
#12 — Rideau View — 421 yards, par 4
Ian Andrew’s decision to move the fairway bunker from the right side of the fairway to the left side greatly improved this already fine hole, for it now directly impedes the line of charm, rather than the bailout. Moreover, this new bunker reintroduced some of the interest that was lost when a lightning-bolt eviscerated a massive tree that used to guard the left edge of the green. A good drive will leave the golfer with an uphill wedge-shot second to a green that sits mostly blind to the fairway and features a deceptive amount of internal movement, especially towards the front and left edge, where it falls off sharply. A distinctive hole on an otherwise pretty monotonous golf course.
#13 — Rivermead — 330 yards, par 4
An excellent short par 4, punctuated by the most picturesque and surprising green on the course, one of Canada’s most underrated and under-appreciated. I’ve always been attracted to the look of this tee shot, particularly with the way that the fairway banks inwards like a Nascar track.
#14 — Loch March — 532 yards, par 5
A cool and tricky downhill tee shot from a tee deck set halfway up a ridge under the shadow of the clubhouse. I like the on-grade nature of the second and third shots on this par 5.
#15 — Chateau Montebello — 396 yards, par 4
An absolute masterclass in architecture and among the best par 4s in Thompson’s stacked catalogue of them.
#16 — Kanata Lakes — 149 yards, par 3
A nerve-racking short par 3 to a volcano-style green where you must absolutely not go long. Early McBroom at his most brutal, this hole bears a distinct “Muskokas” feel.
#17 — Le Sorcier — 193 yards, par 3
In truth, I was struggling to come up with a selection for this hole by this point in the exercise. So I went with this one, a slightly above average par 3 featuring a downhill tee shot that must carry a marsh and find a tightly guarded green.
#18 — The Marshes — 500 yards, par 4
A 500 yard beast to finish this pretty underrated Trent Jones Father and Son effort in Kanata. Perhaps to finish with double green is a bit cliched by now, but I don’t mind it too much on this occasion. Two heroic shots are needed to get home in regulation, here, especially when into the wind, which it tends to be.