Ottawa, Ontario maybe a Golf Capital as well?

Why hasn’t someone told us!

Happy Birthday Tim, aka Big Dog!

I have been hanging around with golfers forever, surprise ‘dat! And for the life of me I can’t think of anyone ever telling me that they went to Ottawa for a golf weekend or even brought up golf and Ottawa in the same sentence.   With two rounds under my belt recently, and a few more many years ago, it’s truly a shame.

The Excuse – Big Dog, Tim Baines, a frequent writer on the Traveling Golfer, is from Ottawa and just turned 60 last month.  No way was I going to miss that, and part of the plan for the weekend was a surprise round at The Marshes with a bunch of his local friends just happening to show up!  Having played once before but many years ago I remembered it being a tough track. I also remember it beating me up a bit – LOL – golf courses sometimes do that, but not this time!

Making the most of a self-induced long weekend, I arrived just in time to catch the Ottawa Red Blacks, Calgary Stampeders CFL tussle at an impressively rejuvenated Landsdowne Park area.  Plenty of bars and restaurants for the Red Black patrons to enjoy as they empty into the neighboring streets. On this night tears might have been floating in their beers as it was a last second loss.

Emerald Links Golf & Country Club

It was a beautiful Friday in Ottawa and Birthday Boy and I had plans to tee it up at Emerald Links Golf & Country Club just south of the Ottawa Airport.  One of three courses owned by the Patterson family, with the others being Cloverdale Links and Anderson Links.  All three are Graham Cooke designs so you know you are in for some quality golf!

I see Martin and Gib (dad) Patterson when we are at the Ottawa Golf Show every year, and they always ask that I let them know if I am coming to town – I did just that.  So grateful that I did, as this experience was an eye opener and enticing me to explore more of what the Ottawa area golf scene has to offer.

Unassuming as you drive into Emerald Links, 27-hole complex.  It’s a quaint Clubhouse and make time for lunch, you won’t be disappointed –  I highly recommend the clam chowder.

The first couple of holes ease you into the round before it begins to weave you through landscaped tree lined fairways, ponds and wetlands to a variety of sizes of undulating greens.

Parkland in style, easy to walk, it is a fun experience for all.  No forced carries, a number of risk reward opportunities and a great collection of par 3’s.

Saturday was another beautiful day, no surprise as Mother Nature would not dare spoil the birthday surprise.  Thinking that he was going for a FREE birthday lesson on his big day (which we all know he dearly needs) such was not the case.  Buddies arrive and away we go!

It surprises me that The Marshes Golf Club rarely makes it to the top of any lists of Provincial or National golf course rankings.  My guess is that not enough of those chosen as rankers visit Eastern Ontario, sadly…

The Marshes Golf Club

Approximately 17 years ago Sir Terry Matthews, had a vision to provide the Ottawa area a top quality public golf facility.  Sparing no expense he engaged two of the world’s most renowned golf course architects of the same name, Robert Trent Jones – one being a SR. and the other JR. to create this masterpiece.

From the moment you arrive you know that there will be a touch of class added to your day.  On the first tee you are in awe of the beautiful surroundings.

On the second tee you begin to understand the challenge ahead.

From then on it is simply yours to enjoy!

OR…look for balls!

You won’t likely find your ball on the daunting 2nd hole, arguably the most difficult hole on the course, a par 5 of just under 600 yards. Even from the white tees a small lake that looks huge from the tee runs down the entire right side that protects the front of the green.

The 2nd hole is a most memorable one to say the least and from here on in you begin to understand the name – The Marshes.  Wetlands, streams, ponds and of course marshes stare you down on many occasions, but the fairways are generous and the greens, large and undulating, so play the right tees (5 sets) and you too will love this place.

The Joneses provide you with just about anything that a great course can have.  Picturesque par 3’s, most with water hazards adding to the beauty – my favorite, the 8th, has a rock wall protecting the green and the Brookstreet Hotel in the background.  No wonder the Marshes has hosted five Canadian PGA Senior Championships amongst many local and provincial amateur championships.

The Brookstreet property is so much more than a hotel, located about 20 minutes west of Ottawa’s downtown, it is the region leading 4-Star Hotel Resort and Conference Centre.   Strategically bringing a quality of excellence in both golf and corporate needs in an area of the province considered to be the Silicon Valley of the north.  Yes they have golf packages!  I knew that you might ask.

There is so much more here to explore, many options for family style vacation, dining packages, award winning cuisine with live jazz seven night a week.  The Options Lounge has been recognized as the Best Jazz Lounge in Ottawa.  Great sounds, taste and sophistication!

With a huge gathering of friends and family for Big Dog’s 60th I parked my butt at the new Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites right by the airport, less than 10 minutes from Tim’s house and only about 15 minutes from Ottawa’s downtown which, by the way, could be one of the best or at least one of the most happening downtowns in the country!  Stay downtown and you can walk to more bars and restaurants than you can imagine. So many options to Stay and Play in the area and so easy to get around.

So while we in southern Ontario are lured to Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania for summer golf excursions, in our own backyard, great golf, combined with a great destination remains waiting to be discovered and you don’t have to factor in a 30% exchange.