Back in the early fall, before the leaves started to change colour and fall off the trees, my wife Mary and I headed an hour east of Ottawa to play a Saturday afternoon round at the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello Golf Club in Montebello, QC. I had never played the course before, but up until last year had always heard really good reviews. In 2013 they had a rough year conditions wise I am told, but they seemed to have recovered in 2014.
Coming from the east end of Ottawa the added bonus of heading to Montebello is you get to take a ferry!
The golf course, a Stanley Thompson design, originally opened in 1929 as part of the exclusive Seigniory Club. The club and golf course remained private until 1970 when it was sold to Canadian Pacific Hotels, who opened it as a public resort and renamed it Chateau Montebello. Montebello became a Fairmont property in 1999 who continues to operate the facility to this day, however the land itself was sold to Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) in 2006.
As would be expected at a Fairmont property, the course is very well maintained. In the spring and summer I wouldn’t say there is anything particularly spectacular about the course, but I image it is a pretty awesome place when the Gatineau’s go into full fall foliage.
The club house matches the rest of the resort in that it is a big, old, rustic log cabin. The pro shop is well stocked with the usual items, plus a decent inventory of high end apparel. By the time we finished our round it was dark and the restaurant that overlooks the 18th greens was closed. The round was well priced at $55 with cart, this was an after 3pm rate.
The course is fairly easy, but not very easy at the same time. You need to keep the ball in the fairways, but the fairways are wide, so hitting them isn’t really an issue. The greens are a good size, not postage stamp, but not huge, and I wouldn’t say they are overly well protected by water or bunkers for the most part. The kicker is once your get onto the putting surface. The greens are a decent speed, maybe a 10, but there isn’t a straight putt to be found on any of the 18 holes. Drive down the middle, hit the green and 3 putt was not an uncommon sight the day I played.
There were a number of interesting holes, mixed with a few wonky holes and a few average holes. I found the 1st par 4 with a blindish tee shot and the 9th, a short par 3 with an overly elevated green silly holes, but at the same time I thought the par 5 4th, par 4 8th, par 3 6th were great holes. I also liked the par 4 11th and the par 3 17th. My favorite hole on the course was the par 4 14th. An elevated tee shot down to the fairway and back up to an elevated green. There is water around the 100 yard marker, so depending on tees you play you may need to lay up. There is trouble down the right hand side as well. For me it was just a really great hole demanding a smart tee shot (not necessarily long) and a solid approach. As with the rest of the course, the green has a substantial amount of slope to it.
I hit 54% of the fairways and 61% of the greens, but had 38 putts for an 80 on the par 70 track. It wasn’t my best outing, but I enjoyed the course and look forward to going back, maybe in the fall where I suspect the course reaches its full potential for scenery.
See you at the turn,