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Preview: 112th Canadian Amateur Championship

The Royal Ottawa Golf Club (Photo: Flagstick.com)
The Royal Ottawa Golf Club (Photo: Flagstick.com)
The Royal Ottawa Golf Club (Photo: Flagstick.com)

The 112th Canadian Amateur Championship is being played this year at the Royal Ottawa and Eagle Creek Golf Clubs in the National Capital Region. This is significant for Golf Canada as it will be the first time the Canadian Amateur Golf Championship will be contested in two provinces over the first two days of the four day event.

The Amateur Championship is not new to the Ottawa Area as it has been held at the Royal Ottawa eight times (1895, 1896, 1899 & 1911 when it was the Ottawa Golf Club and in 1914, 1925, 1951 & 1991 after the Club received its Royal designation) and at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club in 1937, 1960 & 1970. It  was last in the region in 2012 when Camelot Golf & Country Club was the main hoist with the Outaouais Golf Club acting as the second course.

The Royal Ottawa Golf Club

Shortly after the meeting that founded the Royal Canadian Golf Association in Ottawa in 1895, the new group consisting of members of ten clubs set out to play their first championship at the nine hole Ottawa Golf Club in Sandy Hill in the vicinity of the area we now know as Strathcona Park. In 1896, due to a demand for land with the growth of the City of Ottawa, the golf course was relocated to the Brigham property on the Chelsea Road near the present Casino de Lac Leamy. In 1903, the members sold their property and its valuable mineral deposits to the Portland Cement Company and relocated to its current position on the Mcveity property on the Aylmer Road overlooking the Ottawa River.

Tom Harley of the Kingston Golf Club (founded in 1886 but later disbanded) won the first championship, soundly defeating Alex Simpson of the host club by a 7&5 margin. Simpson, coincidentally, is credited as being a driving force behind the creation of the national governing body for golf.

Just eight players took part in that first National Amateur Championship but it would lay the groundwork for a rich tradition to follow.

The last playing of the tournament at Royal Ottawa saw Jeff Kraemer win over a trio of fine players. His 283 total was two better than Rob Anderson, Steven Davies, and a man that would go on to win 8 PGA Tour titles and the 2003 Masters, Mike Weir.

The Royal Ottawa Golf Club is celebrating their 125th Anniversary as well in 2016 and they will tie with the Toronto Golf Club as the club that has hosted the Canadian Amateur Championship the most times when it visits for the 8th time. The Royal Ottawa golf course

The Eagle Creek Golf Club

The Canadian Amateur Golf Championship will be a new entity to the ClubLink-owned Eagle Creek Golf Club when it is played this year. But the course, celebrating its 25th Anniversary, is not new to golfers, especially professionals who played on the Canadian Tour from 1998 – 2001.

Designed by Ken Venturi, Eagle Creek was opened in 1991 as a championship 18-hole, private equity members’ golf course. The Club soon suffered with too few memberships being sold during a downturn in the Canadian economy and eventually went bankrupt. It operated as a public-play facility until 1996 when businessman Andre Lacasse and his wife Jeanette saw a business opportunity and purchased “The Creek” as it was affectionately known. Eagle Creek operated as one of the finest public golf courses in Canada with many upgrades by the Lacasse Family until 2007 when the golf club was sold to ClubLink Corporation.

The key to the appeal of Eagle Creek has always been the course itself and its championship layout that stretches to over seven thousand yards in length. Only the best was used in the construction of the course including bentgrass in the fairways and on the greens. Over seventy bunkers are filled with the finest Ohio White sand.

What Eagle Creek offers, especially as far as layout is concerned, is eighteen holes of great variety. Eagle Creek is routed through two hundred and thirty acres of mature forest with many gentle creeks and fresh, clean ponds that define many of the holes and golfers are presented with elevated holes, doglegs, short and long holes of varying pars, and as mentioned by many people, six risk-reward type holes that bring out the hero and villain in any golfer. The result is an entertaining golf course that will test the limits of your skills yet still be a pleasurable place to play even if your abilities are more of the average variety. The scenery alone puts less emphasis on the score and more on enjoying a day of golf.

No hole at Eagle Creek defines the layout more than the final one – often chosen by many people as one of the finest closing holes they have ever seen or played. It has been the site of dramatic conclusions to many rounds – both by professionals in tournament play and each and every day of the golf season by amateur golfers.

The eighteenth hole is the ultimate precision and power hole that can be played numerous ways. The diversity of the hole means that eagles and double bogeys come into play on an almost equal basis. Five hundred and seventy-three yards of fairway, rough, and sand lay in a half-moon shape around a sixteen acre lake with a peninsula jutting out into the clear blue lake that comes into play more often than players would prefer. A daring tee shot to this extra landing area can leave a player with only a long iron into the green. Whatever the plan of attack, the approach will have to carry the lake and bunker that fronts the two-level green.

Participants in the 2016 Canadian Amateur Golf Championship will be tested to their limits on both the Royal Ottawa and Eagle Creek Golf Clubs and at the end of the championship a winner will emerge who has seen the best that both courses have to offer and risen to the occasion to become Canada’s Amateur Golf Champion.

The Ottawa area Canadian Amateurs & Winners:

2012     Camelot G&CC & Outaouais GC   Mackenzie Hughes  Canada

1991        Royal Ottawa Golf Club            Jeff Kraemer            Canada

1970        Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club         Allen Miller               United States

1960        Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club         Keith Alexander       Canada

1951        Royal Ottawa Golf Club            Walter McElroy          Canada

1937        Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club          Ross Somerville         Canada

1925        Royal Ottawa Golf Club            Donald Carrick           Canada

1914        Royal Ottawa Golf Club            George Lyon             Canada

1911        Royal Ottawa Golf Club            G.H. Hutton               Canada

1906        Royal Ottawa Golf Club            George Lyon             Canada

1899        Royal Ottawa Golf Club            Vere C. Brown           Canada

1895        Royal Ottawa Golf Club            Thomas Harley          Canada

/ Joe McLean @FlagstickJoe