Down The Fairway – Outaouais Golf Club

The patio view of #9 West at the Outaouais GC (Photo: Scott MacLeod)
The patio view of #9 West at the Outaouais GC (Photo: Scott MacLeod)
The patio view of #9 West at the Outaouais GC (Photo: Scott MacLeod)

The Outaouais Golf Club, located in Rockland, Ontario, is located forty minutes east of Ottawa along the river that bears the name of Canadian’s capital city. It traces its roots back to 1959.

The story is told that Gerald Chamberland, the founder of the golf course along with several business associates, was getting a little tired of having to take the ferry across the Ottawa River to play golf at the Buckingham Golf Club.  He gathered his friends, including Mr. Gaëtan Schingh, Mr. Robert Paris, Mr. Eugène Laviolette, Mr. Léopold Laviolette, Mr. Roger Thibault, and Mr. Maurice Tessier, and set out in the fall of the year to search for a good location on which they would be able to build a suitable golf course. They found their dream property in the city of Rockland in the form of a 118-acre lot that they purchased for the princely sum of $5,000. They closed the deal on January 15th, 1960. An additional thirty-five acres of property was acquired from a local landowner to would eventually supplement the original acreage.

In a time when golf architects were scarce individuals, and with economy in mind, Chamberland is reputed to have ordered a copy of a book from the National Golf Foundation in Chicago, Illinois with the ambitious title, “How To Build A Golf Course.” The book cost a single American dollar and building a golf course is just what the group set out to do.

By May 29th of 1961 they had nine holes of golf (today’s South Course) ready to play. Two years later they followed up with another nine holes, creating the original and very popular combination of South and West courses that is the staple for play today. It was the layout used when the club co-hosted the Canadian Amateur in 2012.

An executive length course, the former Red course was added to the property in 1977 but was replaced with a new nine-hole golf course in 2003, one of the biggest happenings in the golf clubs’ storied history.

The East Course was the much-awaited replacement of the original executive course. To facilitate the new holes, an additional fifty-five acres of land was purchased and Paul Takahashi was retained to design and oversee construction of the course.

Takahashi, an emerging Canadian golf course design star, is best known for his onsite architecture work at ClubLink courses like Lake St. Joseph and Rocky Crest in the Muskoka area of Ontario. The new nine laid out by Takahashi measures three thousand four hundred and twenty-three yards from the longest of four tee decks and plays to a par of thirty-six.

Work began on the new nine holes in March 2002 and it was successfully opened in July 2003 to rave reviews. While Takahashi’s design is slightly varied from the original championship course at Outaouais it still manages to keep a similar feel with its tree-lined fairways and rolling property.

Over the years a reputation has grown for Outaouais as one of the most picturesque courses in the Ottawa Region. No hole more readily demonstrated this then the ninth on the West course; the hole that plays as the eighteenth for most golfers playing the traditional eighteen-hole combination of South and West Courses. A simple long iron off the tee brings you to a fairway that turns ninety degrees to the right and to the reverse side of the scene that greets you from the popular patio area, adjoining their full service clubhouse.  The final approach shot of the day must be played over two ponds, accented by fountains, to a small elevated green in full view of your peers.

Few final holes settings can match the drama it creates each and every time you play the course.  The scene is so integral to the golf course that it was even commemorated in a painting by golf landscape artist Tony Harris.  It is truly “Pretty as a painting.”