Emerald Links – A links course lost in the forest

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of getting out and playing a new course. Having been in Ottawa for roughly 7 years now I have played many of the courses in the area, but not all. I have been a member/staff at Metcalfe for the past 4 summers, so that has significantly cut down the number of different courses I play in a summer.

Due to an all day tournament at Metcalfe I thought it would be a great opportunity to get out and play a course I had yet to play in the city. After an extensive search I settled on Emerald Links, which is more or less down the street from Metcalfe. Emerald Links is a 27 hole facility, with 3 distinct 9s and depending on the day or time of day, you could play one of 3 combinations. The course is owned by the Patterson family, the same family that owns 2 other Ottawa area courses, Anderson Links and Cloverdale Links. I had played Anderson previously and enjoyed it, although it was not very tough. I have never played Cloverdale, but it is on my list.

Recently, my enjoyment of early morning golf has won out over my enjoyment for sleeping in, so I booked an early tee time (6:30am) and showed up at 6am hoping to get out early. I was in luck that the pro shop staff was open when I showed up and I was able to get out right at 6am.My day would feature a front 9 on the East Course and a back 9 on the West Course. This combination was a par 71, with a rating of 70.9 and a slope of 127.

In addition to being happy I got out early I was also happy that I was not joining another group. Although I do enjoy meeting new people for a round of golf, I was hoping to get some pictures while on the course Saturday and would have felt less comfortable taking my time and taking some photos if I was with other players. In the end I was able to get a good selection of photos which you can view below.

As for my golf game, I hit the ball pretty well all game, but had trouble scoring. I really only had 1 crappy hole and a couple of other not so great holes. I was 42 going out, including a double on the par 3 8th, and 40 coming in, for an 11 over 82. Having not played the course before cost me maybe 1 or 2 strokes, but nothing significant, my mistakes had nothing to do with the course layout.

As for the course itself, I was quite impressed. Although not a true links course as the name suggests, it is a neat sort of hybrid. While playing the East course one senses that they took a links course and dropped it into the middle of a forest. Almost all the holes are tree lined, but also feature rolling mounds on the fairways, lots of bunkers and medium to large undulating greens. The West course, although short at only 3,000 yards, features a lot of elevation change and requires you to hit pretty accurate shots for any chance of scoring well. It is much less links like than the East course. Both the East and West courses feature many doglegs, almost too many, but not quite. I suspect this was necessary in order to fit 27 holes and a driving range into the space. Both 9s were tough, but neither was outright hard. On the East course, good ball striking leads to lots of birdie putts, bad ball striking leads to lots of bunker shots. On the West course I found it difficult to get many scoring chances even on good shots, which I assume is the intention given the shortness of the layout. One bad hole on the West course and you are left waiting for an opportunity to get it back, but there really aren’t any “gimmie” holes. Even the seemingly easy holes of 4 (a 306 yard par 4  from the back tees) and 7 (a 466  yard par 5 from the back tees) demand perfect tee shots to have any chance of making a birdie.

The conditions were some of the best I have played all season, right up there with Outaouais and only slightly behind Eagle Creek. The fairways worked really well with my game, which is firm, but not hard. The greens were quick, but not super fast. That could have been due to the fact I was playing at 6am with dew still on the course. I imagine they would have been quicker in the late morning.

The price to play was $55 plus tax, which seems a little steep for a round at 6am, but I still feel the course warrants it. It is more expansive than Outaouais ($40 plus tax), for a round prior to 8am but the exact same price for a prime time round ($55). I would say the overall conditions and toughness of the course is similar between the two courses, so the price point makes sense to me.

I will be back to Emerald Links and I would recommend the course to a friend, but I am not sure I would recommend it for beginners. Even from the front tees there are some pretty tough tee and fairway shots.

That’s all for now,

@brewcee on twitter

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