“I’ve decided to purchase some more land and I’m going to build a golf course.”
That was the announcement to his family by Ken McBride about a new McBride Family project in 1988. “Dad had retired from his plumbing and building company and was bored”, said Tricia McBride, Ken’s daughter and now general-manager of the Irish Hills Golf & Country Club.
After an initial bout of scepticism, the family was quickly on board and as Ken’s wife Maureen says now, “There’s nothing that we were not willing to try.” Mrs McBride continued, “Ken had reasoned that with the surge in popularity of the game of golf and more leisure time available for families, a golf course would be a viable business opportunity for years to come.”
The land with the scenic landscape overlooking the Carp River Valley that Ken and Maureen purchased was the 160 acre Boyd Farm at 3248 Carp Road near Carp. At the time, the land was located in West Carleton Township and swift approval was given to change the status of the property from agricultural to open zoning. With Karson Kartage and Konstruction Ltd. providing the equipment and material, the Irish Hills Golf & Country Club quickly became a reality.
The name “Irish Hills” had been adopted by Ken and Maureen, both with Irish backgrounds, as their new property reminded both of the rolling hills found in Ireland.
In 1989, 18 holes were ready and the golf course opened for business with the management team of Ken McBride, Howard Soucie and Ross Chiarelli at the helm. The pro-shop was located in the farmhouse that dated back to the 1800’s and some of the original barns were used for equipment storage. A functional 14,000 square foot clubhouse and banquet facility, designed by Ken, was built for use by the members, green-fee players and the public.
Let’s fast forward to 2015 and take a look at the Irish Hills Golf & Country Club that is now a 27-hole family run operation owned by Maureen McBride and managed by her daughter Tricia. Their partners were bought out in 2011 and unfortunately Mr. McBride passed away two and a half years ago and if fondly remembered.
The pro-shop is now located in the lower level of the clubhouse, providing better access to food and beverage as well as other amenities. The century-old log barn that housed the maintenance equipment and golf carts succumbed to a fire in 2008 and was replaced with a modern steel structure.
Many members and staff have been with the club for years and the goal is to treat them all like “family”. Staff members are encouraged to know each other’s jobs, creating a large amount of respect for each other.
The original idea of “having fun while playing golf” is still the goal today at the Irish Hills Golf & Country Club. Maybe that is why it is still a popular golf destination with golfers coming primarily from the west end of the City of Ottawa.
There is a variety of play on the 27-hole golf course with generous fairways meandering through an assortment of full growth trees and punctuated with a number of spring-fed natural ponds. Even though the golf course is located within the confines of the City of Ottawa, once on the course golfers spend a few hours in a country atmosphere where wild-life is abundant on the course and scenic views are omnipresent.
A number of changes have been adopted for the 2015 season including an interactive website where members can book tee times from their home computers or smartphones and the introduction of bat houses on the course to combat mosquitoes. A reasonably priced twilight (after 3 pm – 7 day) membership has also been introduced for those still in the work force, allowing them an outlet for exercise after work. Ryan Hale, a former member and club champion at Irish Hills, was recently appointed as the Director of Golf at Irish Hills and his enthusiasm is evident when he talks about introducing younger golfers to the game. To that end, two junior summer camps have been scheduled this summer with not just golf but arts and crafts, badminton, volleyball and more on the schedule.
Apart from the standard fare found at most golf courses, the updated menu at Irish Hills includes items such as a roasted cauliflower appetizer and a kale & feta salad for health conscious customers.
A number of changes have been initiated by Tricia and her mother over the past couple of years. When asked what Ken would think about them, they both replied that he would be in favor as long as the changes were benefitting members and guests alike.
If you haven’t visited Irish Hills recently, take the time to book a tee time and experience the changes for yourself.
After 25 years in operation, Fun, Family and Friendly are still the key components at the Irish Hills Golf and Country Club.
Privately Owned – Maureen McBride and Family
Director of Golf
Associate Director of Golf
Blue – 6637/70.9/118
White – 6173/68.4/115
Gold – 5831/66.9/111
Red – 5402/69.8/120
Blue – 6189/68.5/115
White – 5780/66.7/108
Red – 5148/68.4/111
Blue – 6130/68.2/115
White – 5655/66.1/107
Red – 5106/67.9/115
Average Hole Lengths (White Tees)
Par 3’s – 159 Yards
Par 4’s – 358 Yards
Par 5’s – 491 Yards
Irish Hills Golf and Country Club
3248 Carp Road