Ken Venturi (1931 – 2013) won 14 PGA Tour events, including the 1964 US Open (side note – 1964 was last year they played a 36 hole final day) . He retired from the PGA Tour in 1967 due to complications from carpel tunnel syndrom. Venturi spent the next 35 years as a color commentator for CBS Sports, retiring in 2002. In 2013, shortly before his death he was inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Ken Venturi also dabbled in course design and has one Canadian course to his name, Eagle Creek Golf Club. Eagle Creek, situated about 40 min west of Ottawa proper opened in 1991 as a high end public course, but was purchased by Clublink as some point (note sure when) and operates as part of their stable of courses to this day.
I first played Eagle Creek in 2008 and have played it more or less once a year since. While rankings are always up for debate, it is hands down the best course in Ottawa, in my humble opinion.
Eagle Creek is technically in Dunrobin, ON, but most people would tell you it is in Ottawa. Dunrobin is about 40min west from downtown with no traffic (so give yourself an hour or more during busy times) and about 15min from Kanata. It is, more or less, in the middle of no where (side note – more golf courses should be accessible by public transit).
There is no one thing that makes Eagle Creek a great golf course. It is a little bit of everything. Take any category used to rank golf courses, quality of greens, design, conditions, difficulty, or memorable holes. While it may not rank 1 in every category, it is going to rank in the top 5 in every category.
The greens are quick and true. Tiering is used, but not excessively. Depending on pin placements you are going to see your fair share of flat putts as well as some not so flat putts. Like most modern courses, the greens are relatively big and protected by bunkers are pretty much every hole.
I don’t know a whole lot about course design, but something about the layout and routing at Eagle Creek just seems right. The transition from hole to hole seems to flow naturally, even with a few extended walks between holes. There is no over whelming sense that you are replaying a hole, like some courses (although I find the 3 and 16 similar from the tee, and 5 and 14 similar on approach).
In the 7 years I have been playing Eagle Creek I have never come off the course thinking it could have been in better shape. The tees, fairways, rough and greens are always in top shape. This year, there was some browning on the fairways, but given the recent heat and the trend towards less watering, I don’t see this as a negative on conditions. The one area they do struggle is they have a geese problem, but they manage to do a decent job keeping the course clear of excessive bird poop.
If you can keep the ball in play at Eagle Creek you have a chance to score well. If you are spraying the ball or playing overly aggressive, you could be in for a long day. The course provides a lot of risk reward shots, with a lot of potential carries of hazards to set up short approach shots. I wouldn’t say the course is hard by default, but the course can certainly play hard depending on your shot selection.
In terms of memorable holes, Eagle Creek features its fair share. I would say the par 3 4th, par 4 9th and par 5 18th are all great holes. The 18th is easily one of the best par 5s and best finishing holes in the city.
Eagle Creek features a pretty impressive clubhouse perched high above the 18th green overlooking the course, like a castle overlooking its fiefdom.
The Clubhouse has a small, but serviceable pro shop, a decent sized restaurant with patio overlooking 18th hole and a really great change room compared to what I have seen at other courses.
Bits and Bites
- My golf game has been inconsistent if nothing else this year. I was even par through 13 and shot a 7 over 79 thanks to 2 doubles in last 6 holes.
- The Eagle Creek Classic was a Canadian Tour stop from 1998 – 2001.
- Most golf courses no longer have drinking water available on the golf course. My understanding is that it has to do with insurance. Clublink courses still have drinking water on them, for this I am appreciative, it was a hot one Friday, even with a 8:30am tee time.
See you at the turn,